Ive seen this sophomore record of the famed West Coast rapper Xzibit often hailed as his best work. My adventure into these eighteen tracks has been both fun and insightful. It would seem there is a significant tone heard in mood and production style that would be a precursor to Dr. Dre's masterful 2001 and Eminem's generation defining Marshall Mathers LP. Released a year earlier there is a undeniable stylistic similarity. 3 Card Moly would slip easily into 2001without the blink of an eye!
The only apparent link is Mel-Man who handles production on Los Angeles Times, a stand out track with a crunking groove and sparse bassline for X to bounce his rhymes off. Sir Jinz, Xzibit himself and a few others put together the rest of the songs. Given their worlds would collide over the next few years, I'd never thought it was mister X to the Z with the apparent weight of influence on that era that helped define my youth.
Onto the album itself, X is far more pronounced and assertive than his previous effort. His aggressive energy is channeled into his flow well, making for explosive strings of rhymes that click with the beat. Nobody Sounds Like Me's opening verse a great example of stars aligning. Bringing on a helping of guests keeps the records pace interesting but its not all gold. A disappointing feature from Method Man on Pussy Pop pulls together a disposable track with a flimsy hook from the Wu-Tang legend.
Xzibit can't help but let a little of his humorous nature through. Ironic rhymes, amusing interludes and bizarre tracks like Shroomz crop up for relief in places. He also has a very serious side too, not shy of addressing topics often challenged in conscious Hip Hop music. His story telling is elevated too, Inside Job is a brilliant word by word ride of a high stakes incident playing out through his swift rhyming. Vivid song!
One of my favorite track has to be Let It Rain, bringing together again his liquid crew for everyone to run through with a series of solid verses. Its got such a fun groove and vibe to it and summarizes my overall experience, its a really fun record that doesn't get too deep into any of the variety it offers. The main surprise was the similarity with musical landmarks yet too come. Xzibit is a talent but even on his "classic" work I don't feel like we see the best of him.
Favorite Tracks: 3 Card Molly, What U See Is What U Get, Nobody Sound Like Me, Focus, Los Angeles Times, Inside Job, Let It Rain