Gangsta rapper Xzibit became a pop culture icon as host of MTV’s car show, `Pimp My Ride,’ where he, uh, exhibited a warm and lovable personality. But he’s always been a hard-core rapper at heart.
His sixth album, `Full Circle,’ which came out this week, marks 10 years in the rap game for Xzibit. This time, he’s his own boss, going independent on Koch Records, leaving his relationship with Sony. Besides music and television, the 32-year-old also has expanded his repertoire into movies, with his latest part alongside Dwayne `the Rock’ Johnson in `Gridiron Gang.’
Xzibit (Alvin Joiner) performs Saturday at Slim’s in San Francisco; Bay Area rapper San Quinn is the opener. We spoke to Xzibit by phone, as he was traveling on tour, `stopping at all these fine American truck stops,’ he says.
Q You’re seen as hard on the outside, but a softy inside — what are you really like?
A There’s nothing soft about me . . . but I’m compassionate to my fellow man. I understand because I come from humble beginnings. . . . I’m a regular dude; I’m comfortable with my skin. . . . What I say through my music does not necessarily control every aspect of my life. I think I balance it out by realizing that music is music, that it is what it is. I don’t have to keep up no images for anybody. That’s how I am on “Pimp My Ride.” That’s how I am with my family at the house, joking with them, playing with them. It’s a nice environment. It’s a healthy environment. . . . I got so many dimensions to my personality that you don’t get to see it just through music or just through movies.
Q Do you see yourself as a role model?
A I see myself as a father, and I conduct myself from that standpoint, but if someone sees something positive in me in what I’m doing as a father, then of course, I’d love to be seen as a role model. I handle my son first, and from there it plays out to everything I do.
Q How old is your son, and what is his name?
A Eleven, Tremayne.
Q Would you want him to be a rapper as well?
A I won’t say no. He can do anything he wants. . . . Before he does anything, he has to exhaust all his resources in education first. He has to show me some diplomas first, high school and college, before he goes into entertainment anyway because I’ve done that, I’ve been down that road. If that’s what he really wants to do, he’ll show me, because he’ll get his education first, because then he’ll have something to fall back on first, because I didn’t have a Plan B. You know, music is never promised; stardom is never promised.
Q How have you evolved as an artist?
A I’m a lot more mature; you know, my priorities are straight. I realize that this is business, and I run it like that.
Q What is the message in your music?
A Perseverance, being an underdog, saying what I feel, feeling what I say, meaning what I say.
Q How do you choose your movie roles, like “Gridiron Gang”?
A They have to be strong. They have to have some kind of added attraction to me. With “XXX 2,” it was great — everybody wants to blow (expletive) up, everybody wants to be in an action movie. I got to shoot a hole in the side of the Capitol building, for God’s sake, I mean, come on. And then with Jennifer Aniston and Clive Owen in “Derailed,” I got to smack her up with a Desert Eagle (gun), that was incredible. And this is my first co-star role with the Rock. It was great — I got to be part of a great message. The Rock was very personable. He embraced me in the filmmaking process, and we reflected these guys — these heroes — correctly.
Q What’s your ideal role?
A I don’t know. I got to look at the icons that went before. I’m in a unique position. I really want to do strong roles. I either have to create a franchise for myself . . . or I got to look at what Ice Cube did through Cube Vision and his film company. I got to look at Will Smith and what he did and how he took control of his career, about creating certain roles, and then only accepting certain roles. You got to be picky.