Xzibit - Manchester Academy - 6.11.02

Plink, Plink, Plink Plonk - it can only be the trademark sound and production of Dr Dre. And of course it is, but that's not to take anything away from Xzibit because he's been doing his own thing for years in the underground scene and it's only now when the rest of the world come round to his way of thinking that he crosses over to the mainstream. It's this work ethic that has seen his touring with the likes of Eminem and Papa Roach in the States while attracting the likes of Snoop Dogg, Dr Dre, KRS1 and MOP for collaborations on his crossover albums "Restless" and this years "Man Vs Machine".

In Manchester for one of a handful of dates on his UK Tour, there's none of the bling bling crystal and gold chains culture we see in his video's. Just stripping it back down to the bare essentials of the decks and the mic he gets back to the origins of hip hop without any of the pantomime set pieces you'd associate with the likes of Eminem. The crowd demographic split between fans who were there back in the day and fans who jumped on board after the release of "X" and his association with Eminem. Still regardless of their cultural background the white middle class kids come together with the street kids and launch their hands up and down in that familiar hip hop style as soon as Xzibit takes to the stage with "Front To Back". In scenes which outstrip any rock bands moshpit it seems that X can do no wrong and the cross armed signals flashed in the air as a sign of appreciation.

His set, relying heavily from the material on "Restless" and Man Vs Machine" he offers an alternate take on hip-hop. Sure there's the ladies, the money and the paranoia - but add a healthy amount of alcohol instead of the usual weed smoking for "Alkaholik". Like most of the men in hip hop it's a familiar disrespect for the ladies (although Xzibit's audience has a more equal male / female ratio) on the likes of "F**kin' you right" and "Choke Me, Spank Me (Pull My Hair)" but with tunes like this it's hard to sit back and take a moral stance on the proceedings. Just before he launches into his biggest smash to date with "X" he plays an exclusive cut from the "8 Mile" soundtrack and after just an hour and a quarter X leaves the stage triumphant with the knowledge that next time he plays Manchester he'll be taking it to the next level.

Alex McCann

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