Xzibit has a message for any detractors out there.
“You can’t count me out,” the gravel-voiced rapper said. “I’m here. I’m stronger than ever. I’m coming to (mess) you up.” Xzibit reiterates that message in his aggressive new album,
“Napalm,” his first since 2006’s “Full Circle.” “This is the time, the opportunity for me to come back and (succeed),” said Xzibit, who performs Sunday at the second annual Fall Frenzy at the Pozo Saloon alongside Kendrick Lamar, 2 Chainz, DMX and other hip hop acts.
Born and raised in Detroit, Xzibit – aka Alvin Nathaniel Joiner – experienced a series of childhood hardships, including the death of his mother when he was 9. His father remarried and moved the family to Albuquerque, N.M., where the budding rapper’s numerous run-ins with the law eventually landed him in state custody.
“I had been kicked out of every public school district in Albuquerque,” recalled Xzibit, who promised his father he’d get a job and a GED. At age 17, he went west to launch his hip hop career.
“There were no guarantees when I came out to California,” said the 38-year-old rapper, who initially performed under the name “Exhibit A.” “I had to let go and accept what was coming ... to leave what was my comfort zone.
“That’s a scary choice to make as a young kid. A lot of adults couldn’t even do (that).”
Against the odds, Xzibit became part of the West Coast underground scene in the 1990s, making guest appearances on albums by King Tee and Tha Alkaholiks before being taken under the wing of legendary rapper/producer Dr. Dre.
His first two albums, 1996’s “At the Speed of Life” and 1998’s “40 Dayz and 40 Nightz,” were released to critical acclaim, while 2000’s “Restless” eventually went platinum.
In 2004, Xzibit found widespread fame as the wisecracking host of MTV’s “Pimp My Ride.” On the makeover show, Los Angeles auto shop West Coast Customs transformed dilapidated vehicles into dream rides tricked out with all the latest toys -- everything from a plasma television to an espresso maker.
“There was an element of wish fulfillment,” Xzibit said, an aspect that set “Pimp My Ride” apart from other reality series at the time. “Other shows were based on somebody’s humiliation or personal flaw…. (In our case) the shock value was somebody receiving something.”
Xzibit described the popularity of “Pimp My Ride,” which went off the air in 2007, as a “double-edged sword.” “Those people see me on the street and expect me to fix their car,” he quipped.
“They think I act a certain way, like I’m jovial all the time. … ‘There’s that cute grizzly bear. Let me go and pet him.’”
Still, the rapper acknowledged, “Pimp My Ride” opened the door to several film and television roles, including a pivotal appearance in 2005’s “xXx: State of the Union.”
In the action-packed sequel to 2002’s “xXx,” Xzibit plays a former gang leader who aids government agent Ice Cube. “I didn’t know anything going into that movie. I got a lot of crash lessons from Cube,” he said, including the proper way to drive a prop car. Luckily, Xzibit said, he’s been able to apply many of the lessons he’s learned as a rapper to his acting career.
Remembering dialogue is easy when you’re used to memorizing rap lyrics, he explained. “Delivery, stage presence, feeling comfortable on stage, being able to use your body as an instrument – these are all skills you use in acting,” said Xzibit, whose movie credits include “Derailed,” “Gridiron Gang,” “The X-Files: I Want to Believe” and “The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call -- New Orleans.”
His upcoming film “Code Name: Geronimo,” co-starring Cam Gigandet and Anson Mount, follows the Navy SEAL team that took down Osama Bin Laden.
Xzibit hopes to eventually follow in the footsteps of rapper-turned-actor Ice-T, star of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” and Cube, who parlayed his hip hop fame into a number of film and TV franchises (“Are We There Yet?”, “Barbershop” and “Friday”).
“I can only do so many co-starring roles, I can only do so many guest appearances before I wear out my welcome,” Xzibit said. “My next step in movies (is to) put out my own project.”
Meanwhile, he’s embarking on a new chapter in his music career with “Napalm,” which features collaborations with the likes of E-40 and Wiz Khalifa. Xzibit filmed the music video for the rock-flavored title track during a recent tour of Iraq. “It was literally the perfect backdrop for the aggression of the record,” said Xzibit, who shot a four-part documentary about his trip. “When I went to Iraq and put a visual to it, I realized, ‘This is the backbone to the record. This is where the power lies.’”
Xzibit said the album, due in stores Oct. 9, represents a bold new direction. “That’s why I do it – for the challenge,” he said.