Before becoming one of the West Coast's most illustrious MCs at the end of the 1990s, and later a TV celebrity, Xzibit was a promising underground rapper.
Born Alvin Nathaniel Joiner on September 18, 1974, in Detroit, MI, Xzibit began his rap career was part of Tha Alkaholiks, a loose-knit collective of California rappers including King T, Defari, and Tha Alkaholiks. Early on, he was featured on "Free Style Ghetto," a song on King T's IV Life (1994), and subsequently appeared on "Hit and Run," a song on Tha Alkaholiks' Coast II Coast (1995). Signed to Loud Records, Xzibit released his solo debut album, At the Speed of Life, in 1996. The album boasts a Billboard Hot 100 single, "Paparazzi," and features production work by Thayod Ausar, Craig Sherrad, E-Swift, DJ Muggs, Saafir, and Diamond D.
Xzibit's second album for Loud, 40 Dayz & 40 Nightz (1998), was a bigger success on all counts. Often considered the rapper's best album, 40 Dayz & 40 Nightz spawned a Top 50 single, "What U See Is What U Get," and features extensive production work from Sir Jinx, who had previously worked at length with Ice Cube, among other significant West Coast rappers. Following the acclaim of 40 Dayz & 40 Nightz, Xzibit made several high-profile guest appearances in 1999, most notably alongside Snoop Dogg on his hit "B Please" and on three tracks of Dr. Dre's 2001 album, including alongside Eminem on the hit "What's the Difference"; also that year he was featured on Kurupt's Tha Streetz Iz a Mutha, Prince Paul's A Prince Among Thieves, Sway & King Tech's This or That, and Tash's Rap Life.
Xzibit's third album, Restless (2000), was executive produced by Dr. Dre, who personally produced or co-produced three songs, including the Hot 100 single "X." Restless features an illustrious list of featured guests and producers -- among them Snoop Dogg, Eminem, KRS-One, Nate Dogg, Erick Sermon, DJ Quik, Sir Jinx, Rockwilder, Scott Storch, Rick Rock, Soopafly, and Battlecat -- and marked the zenith of Xzibit's popularity as a rapper, passing the platinum sales mark handily. Man vs Machine (2002) sought to duplicate the success of its predecessor, once again featuring a roll call of well-known talent, including Dr. Dre, DJ Premier, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Nate Dogg, and Anthony Hamilton. However, despite debuting at number three on the Billboard album chart (his first time breaking into the Top Ten), Man vs Machine proved a bust. It spawned no major hits and barely reached gold sales status, let alone platinum.
Weapons of Mass Destruction (2004) also sold disappointingly, and consequently Xzibit began diversifying his portfolio, turning toward acting instead of music. He had previously appeared in the films The Wash (2001) and 8 Mile (2002), along with numerous videos, so it wasn't much of a stretch when he acted in the Hollywood films Full Clip (2004), XXX: State of the Union (2005), and Derailed (2005). Furthermore, in 2004 he began hosting the MTV show Pimp My Ride, which quickly became one of the network's most popular, carrying on for many seasons (with Xzibit) and eventually being spun off internationally (without him). Full Circle (2006) marked Xzibit's return to the music marketplace. No longer signed to a major-label recording contract, Xzibit released the album via Koch Records, and consequently it sold only a fraction of what his previous few albums had, despite some first-rate production and the rapper's newfound status as a TV celebrity. Pimp My Ride was canceled in 2007 and Xzibit focused for a time on his acting career, doing small roles in an X-Files movie, television roles as well as a cameo appearance in the concert film Tha Alkaholiks: Live from Rehab. Financial troubles plagued the actor/rapper in this time, and he dealt with the repercussions of both tax evasion and multiple bankruptcy filings during this phase of his career. In 2012, after a long musical hiatus, he returned with full length album Napalm, assisted by friends like Dr. Dre and Wiz Khalifa on the album's party-friendly hip hop. ~ Jason Birchmeier, Rovi