Bitter about Sony and the label’s handling of his career, Xzibit split from the major and went indie, taking his Open Bar imprint and himself to Koch. In 2006, there are plenty of other major-label rappers in exile at Koch, but few of them have exploited the freedom of indie life as well as Xzibit. With a wide range of topics being covered and former Bomb Squad member Keith Shocklee’s name in the credits, Full Circle is an uncompromised album in the classic hip-hop style, with Xzibit eager to get back to business on his own terms.
There’s a reference to his job as the host of Pimp My Ride, but there’s no ridiculous capitalizing on it and the guest list doesn’t pander to who’s on top. Hot superstar the Game is on here, but like most of the other choices, he’s hard West Coast and fits in perfectly with folks like Daz, Kurupt, and DJ Quik. Surrounded by like-minded artists, Xzibit sounds more comfortable than he has in a long time.
Comfortable enough to deliver “Thank You,” an ambitious, sincere, and moving thank-you to his fans that lays out the emotions and doubts in an honest and vulnerable way few other rappers would attempt, fearing they’d get those “gone soft” accusations. Xzibit is fearlessly mature elsewhere, with “Black & Brown” calling for unity between the young people of those colors, because the way he sees it, if a kid’s out on the streets rioting, he “ain’t learnin’ sh*t about math and science.” “Family Values” finds the rapper outgrowing hoes (“Do you have anything to offer me besides some ass”), but if you want that visceral, N.W.A type of anger, “Ram Part Division” is hard to the core, with the rapper taking on the cops and their ultimate power (“And if you try to come back with a civil suit/I sit back and watch my system take a sh*t on you”).
The worthy single “Concentrate” represents the less heavy side of the album, and a couple misogynist and downright sleazy moments show Xzibit hasn’t clamped down entirely or forgotten how to have irresponsible fun. The wise-ass moments are dispensed perfectly among the wise ones, the hooks and engaging productions are plentiful, and his words paint a vivid picture, be it of booty or revolution.
It’s strange that the title Full Circle implies the man has returned to square one, because this is grown man’s business and just what veteran, enlightened thugs should sound like.
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