Xzibit recently took part in an interview with Australian newspaper ‘Herald Sun’ where he talks about the current world tour, the current state of Hip Hop, and the joys of licensing his own music.
YOUR new tour is called Back to Basics. Paint us a picture.
A DJ, one guy on stage with me, me and the crowd. No fireworks, no video screens, no lights. Well, there should be some lights so you can see what’s going on, but that’s about it. Back to what I know as hip hop.
Your new album, Full Circle, has come out on Koch Records. What happened with Sony BMG?
Koch is not the place for Xzibit, not at all, but it’s the only place that would put my record out and distribute it the way I wanted it.
So Koch is only a temporary deal?
It’s a one-off. I had to get away from Sony. Sony’s not the place to put out hip hop records. But why would I sign a new deal in 2007 with another label when I’ve been an artist for so long? I can control more of it now, own the licensing, that’s where it’s headed. The days of charging someone $(US)15 or $16 for a CD are over. Even getting paid for downloads is sketchy. The only way to protect yourself as an artist is to own the licensing. Ten years down the track, if they want to use your song for a Coca-Cola commercial then they have to deal directly with you.
So would you start your own record label as well?
I don’t know. The path of success in the music industry has yet to be paved. There was a time there was a working business model, but so many things have changed that it doesn’t work any more. You have to be empowered as an artist, you can’t give away that power by signing a deal that puts you at the lowest part of the totem pole. It’s about owning your music and your licensing until that new working business model is created. Anybody who tells you, “Oh, I’m gonna sign to this and that” — they don’t f—ing know. Record sales have dropped. Big time. Let’s figure out what it is first.
I don’t want to sign to your label. F— you and your label! I own 100 per cent of my music now.
Is it good to look for a deal with some success under your belt?
I’m playing on my terms now. I’m not swayed either way by someone’s opinion. What I do on the film or TV side, what I do in music, is because I have a desire to do it, there’s something drawing me to do it. I have no intentions of alienating myself any more from my fans than I already have by going with Sony or somewhere else. I think my fans will support me regardless as long as I put out quality material and stay consistent.
There were rumours Sony tried to silence your creativity?
Definitely. On Weapons of Mass Destruction I put together a Bush speech. There were Sony lawyers who wanted me to sign something to leave them clear of repercussions. I was like “Aw man”. We’d argue about the songs they wanted as singles and it’d hold my record up for months if
I didn’t agree with them. It wasn’t cool. I came to them with a connection to the streets that made those records work. They had no intention of going to the streets! Sony is a good label to get you from one million to five million, but they can’t get you to that one million. It was a tough situation to come from an independent label, Loud Records, where I was selling two million albums to Sony and only get to gold (500,000) twice. Something was wrong. We decided to amicably part ways because it was alienating my fans. They knew what I was doing was really not me.
That Bush speech was a bit ahead of its time. You were slagging off the President before the Dixie Chicks or Green Day.
At the time it was very apparent to us there was something up. He was not being a President of the people, he was policing the people. He was serving his own agenda. I don’t see myself as an activist, but I know when a gangsta is trying to make a move! Real recognise real.
What’s up with Pimp My Ride?
I’m done with my obligations to Viacom with Pimp My Ride. Now I have to go and do what I want to do as far as the music side. There’s a few offers for movies but right now it’s important for me to go out and do what I want to do, play live.
There’s a skit on Full Circle in which you say you’re sick of being asked about Pimp My Ride.
Ah, I’m not sick of it. It’s two different audiences. There are people who know me from my music and the people who know me from the TV show. I don’t feel there’s a need to combine them, it’s two different attractions. There’s a personality people are attracted to, it’s the ability to relate to the common man, that’s the biggest part of Pimp My Ride. A lot of people think it’s the cars or the guys in the shop, but it’s the ability to relate to the common man. The way I am on that show is me. That’s how I talk to my friends and family, it’s not like I put on a character.
Would you do another series of Pimp My Ride?
My contract is up. Whether they continue with it is up to them.
Do you want to do it again?
It depends on them.
What about movies?
We’ll see. A few good ideas are on the table, but once again I have to be in control of that aspect of my career. There are a lot of opportunities, but it’s not about getting the next thing, it’s about getting the right thing. The next thing could have me on Soul Plane 3, the right thing could be two years from now. Xzibit the brand is worldwide. It’s bigger than ever, it’s untarnished. Now it’s a point of extending the brand and have the growth happen that’s acceptable to me. It’s no point growing overnight just because I could be here or here — you know, “Xzibit’s going to do this watch ad, then he’s going to do a children’s cereal ad, then he’s going to be museum guy in a movie because his name is Xzibit”. Get the f— out of here! I’m just going to chill, and wait for the right thing.
Do you say no to a lot of things?
I say no like it’s my second name. That’s the only way I can keep things the way they are. I’m not in love with money. Money comes and goes. What I do hold dear to my heart is that I’ve become very conscious of what this means to people. I’m very respectful of that. I don’t want to do something just because I’ll get paid. Being paid doesn’t necessarily get you respected. You go anywhere in the world where money is of no consequence and you’ll see respect is everything. I’d rather have respect. You can get money if you have respect. If you have money you try to buy respect and it’s not something you can buy. I have options. It’s not like I have to feed my family off just rapping now. I can feed them off movies. It’s nice to have options. When you don’t have options you do desperate s—.
Do you get a lot of cliched movie scripts?
F— yeah. You’d be amazed how weak some of the roles are in Hollywood for African American men. And women.
I say no to a lot of them. The movie I did with Jennifer Aniston, Derailed, was good because of the cast of characters and the plot twists. It was a good experience for me. Those are the things that expand my career, my range. I’ll take small steps until I’m ready for the big one. In Hollywood they give you enough rope to either hang yourself or pull yourself up. I’m at a point where I’m not really ready to wrap that rope around my neck and jump off a ledge, so I’ll take little steps.
Full Circle (Liberation) out now. Xzibit, Metro in Melbourne, June 29, $72.50, Ticketek.
Source: Cameron Adams – Herald Sun Australia