The West Coast rapper and one time Pimp My Ride host is back in the game, hitting Australian shores for a tour this week… Many people might have thought we’d seen the last of Xzibit. It seems a long time ago now, just over a decade in fact, when he secured his place amongst hip hop’s heavyweights. His reputation had grown steadily throughout the 90s, releasing a couple of highly-rated records, but it was with third album, Restless, that his breakthrough came. The Dr Dre-produced record, which featured the likes of Snoop Dogg, Eminem and Nate Dogg, sold over two million copies and spawned his most successful single, “X”. That then led to the legendary “Up In Smoke” world tour, a couple more albums, a few film roles and, of course, the hugely successful Pimp My Ride, which cemented his position as a global star. A few years ago, however, things started to go wrong. Pimp My Ride was axed, his sixth album, Full Circle, bombed, and Xzibit decided to take a break. But that was 2007 and this is now. The X-Man is back and, speaking to TNT from his US home, he seems humble, excited to be hitting the road again and thriving on the creative process of putting together his new album, Napalm, which Aussie audiences will be getting a sneak preview of over the coming weeks. “I haven’t put a record out since ’07, I was just out of the time zone,” explains Xzibit. “It’s been a while, so I can’t explain the feeling to be doing this man. You’ve got to be on top of your game, you’ve got to be focused, so I’m glad to come back with a record that I’m comfortable with. Napalm is coming next year for sure. We’re about 75 per cent done, we’ve just gotta do a bit more work on it.” Indeed, after a tough few years, the man who has also appeared in over a dozen films, seems reborn from the experience of getting back in the studio. “The creative part is always great,” he says. “That’s when you get in a studio and find yourself. When you get out there and perform it, that’s when you find people that relate to you. It’s a long process you know, it’s something that you don’t recognise until it’s actually done and you can see the record and how many people relate to it. It kind of hits home that, ‘wow, I’m not the only one to feel like this’. So has he learnt much from getting back to his musical roots? “Yeah, when you stop learning, that’s when you lose the game. You’ve always got to be learning. I always want to know more. Because you know the game, it progresses and changes.” But with the new album being called Napalm, following the likes of Man vs Machine and Weapons of Mass Destruction, it seems that Xzibit, now 37, has lost none of his edge. “The album has nothing more or nothing less to do with chemical weapons,” explains the hip hopper. “But if it speaks to you, it burns. I feel like the music I make is aggressive. I feel like that’s my calling sign, it’s what I do. I’ve just got to stick to my line and what I do.” Now, I’ve been warned by his press people not to ask too much about his past, but as my time with him nears its end, I can’t resist throwing a couple of old school questions his way. Luckily, he doesn’t mind. Indeed he immediately becomes brighter, lighter, less intense. On the 2000 “Up In Smoke” tour, on which, along with the likes of Dre, Eminem, Ice Cube and Warren G, he filled stadiums around the world, he enthuses, “that was one of the pivotal points in my career. It was incredible. That was one of the highlights”. Pushing my luck, I ask how he feels about his MTV show Pimp My Ride, which ran for six seasons until 2007 and made him a household name. He says, “I loved what Pimp My Ride represented. We got inside pop culture and we changed the word ‘pimp’ from a negative to a positive.” And how pimped is his own car? “Ha, nah man, I don’t drive a pimped up car, I drive a fucking bat car. I’m not gonna tell you what it is because people will look at me in my car, but it’s a fucking bat car.” Xzibit’s 14-date Australian tour starts this Thursday, when he plays Newcastle (Nov 24). He then visits Melbourne, Adelaide, Cairns, Canberra, Townsville, Perth, Frankson, Geelong, Traralgon, Hobart, Sydney, Gold Coast and Darwin. Check out