May 17, 2009

Xzibit - 40 Dayz & 40 Nightz (August 25, 1998)


Two years after Alvin Joyner saw a bit of success with his debut album, At The Speed Of Life, the rapper commonly known as Xzibit decided to roll the dice again with 40 Dayz & 40 Nightz, his sprawling sophomore effort. It was released on Loud Records with little promotion outside of the hip hop community, and yet is considered to be the man's finest achievement, and not just because it slowly sold over half a million copies.

With 40 Dayz & 40 Nightz, Xzibit stuck to the same formula that made his debut so damn catchy, but expanded on it just a little bit, even managing to include an A-list guest star from the East Coast (who will be revealed later). The disc featured his highest ever charting single, "What U See Is What U Get", and eventually led to Alvin being invited by Dr. Dre himself to join his Up In Smoke concert tour, which set up his affiliation with Dre and Marshall Mathers, who were powerhouses in our chosen genre in 1998 (they still are today, but to much less of a degree).

Even though I enjoyed his debut disc, Xzibit was always the artist who I looked past to see what else was out. I ran across this in a used CD store a few years after it dropped, and as I listened to it on the way home, I recall being extremely pissed at myself for not having the music in my life back in 1998. But you can only look forward, right?

Anyway.

1. INTRO (THE LAST NIGHT)
Insipid rap album intro, but it's set to the music from Alvin's “Paparazzi”, which helps the medicine go down.

2. CHAMBER MUSIC
I was expecting an organ to come into play at some point, or at least some kung-fu sound effects, but the beat is energetic enough, and X rips it to shreds anyway, so I guess everything is as it should be.

3. 3 CARD MOLLY (FEAT RAS KASS & SAAFIR)
Sure, a couple of lines on here are fucked up (Saafir's statement about “ripping tracks up like immigrant Chinese” doesn't even make sense, and X talking about “Christopher Reeve doing the Crip walk” comes off as being mean simply for shock value), but the track itself is so damn entertaining that you'll wonder why these three didn't just release a mixtape together, label politics be damned.

4. WHAT U SEE IS WHAT U GET
A good choice for the first single (although “Los Angeles Times” appeared on the Soul In The Hole soundtrack prior to this disc being released, if I remember my dates correctly). I've always liked the video, which is just cool to watch. The Jesse West production work is both simple and awesome.

5. HANDLE YOUR BUSINESS (FEAT DEFARI)
The energy level takes a significant dip at this point. The rhymes are alright (Defari has never really impressed me, but he sounds okay on here), but the beat is boring as shit.

6. NOBODY SOUND LIKE ME (FEAT MONTAGEONE)
“I spit on the mic to get these emcee's pussy wet”? What kind of rhyme is that for a guest to spit? What the hell is that supposed to mean? Maybe it's best not to dwell, as this song isn't interesting enough to worry about for very long.

7. PUSSY POP (FEAT METHOD MAN & JAYO FELONY)
My theory is, Method Man lost a bet, and his punishment was to rhyme alongside a rapper with the ridiculous name of Jayo Felony on two separate occasions (on here and on Jayo's own “Whatcha Gonna Do?”), both of which resulted in truly horrible songs. The last time he lost a contest this substantial, Meth was forced to perform on the title track from Foxy Brown's Ill Na Na.

8. CHRONIC KEEPING 101 (INTERLUDE)


9. SHROOMZ
I would say that this song only exists because of his homey Eminem's influence, but this album was recorded and released prior to X getting down with Dr. Dre's camp. The song, detailing a bad trip, is okay, but X's line “fucked up n----z and firearms don't mix right” is pretty hilarious.

10. FOCUS
This Glove production is pretty good, but the disembodied voice that keeps repeating the song's title is distracting, and essentially ruins the experience for me.

11. JASON (48 MONTHS INTERLUDE)


12. DEEPER
This shit is so good that you'll want to take it behind the middle school and get it pregnant. You'll forget that all X-to-the-Z (a nickname that actually takes longer to say than just “Xzibit”) is now best known for Pimp My Ride and for appearing in the X-Files sequel last summer.

13. LOS ANGELES TIMES
Xzibit's first sentence is both hilarious and great, setting the tone for an entertaining track. Mel-Man, best known for his work alongside Dr. Dre and for absolutely nothing else, provides some production that is a perfect complement to the lyricism.

14. INSIDE JOB
You don't really think about X being a storyteller, but he does a truly great job detailing a bust, with both humor and clarity: when he says that he doesn't care about the money but he'll fuck you up, you're prone to believe him, regardless of Gridiron Gang.

15. LET IT RAIN (FEAT KING TEE & THA ALKAHOLIKS)
This Likwit Crew posse cut does not disappoint. X, King Tee, and J-Ro all build on each other's verses, and Tash brings the house down, like he always does about this time. This song is just fucking good.

16. RECYCLED ASSASSINS (FEAT MONTAGEONE)
The energy level dips again on here, but this song actually works. The serious rhymes from X and his guest are a nice change of pace. Montageone's beat is also unnervingly calm, considering the track's subject matter.

17. OUTRO
Ostensibly, this is Alvin's father praising his son. Not a bad way to end your album, if you can convince your parents to do it.

The following is included as a bonus track on 40 Dayz & 40 Nightz.

18. DON'T LET THE MONEY MAKE YOU (FEAT KING TEE & SOOPAFLY)
Sir Jinx's beat doesn't really fit in with the rest of the album, which is probably why it's considered a bonus track. Also, it's not a very good song. Oh well.

FINAL THOUGHTS: 40 Dayz & 40 Nightz is one of those buried treasures that nobody ever seems to talk about in hip hop. Xzibit used to be one of the best in the West: this album is the proof. Its production is almost consistently entertaining, and his writing is impressive, which is pretty much what I constantly hope for whenever I write one of these posts. To put it very mildly: this album is fucking good.

BUY OR BURN? What sophomore slump? This one's a purchase. Go and get it now. You'll be pleasantly surprised, and you'll feel good that your money didn't go to waste, especially in this harsh economic climate.

BEST TRACKS: “What U See Is What U Get”; “Deeper”; “Los Angeles Times”; “3 Card Molly”; “Let It Rain”; “Chamber Music”; “Inside Job”; “Recycled Assassins”

-Max

RELATED POSTS:
Xzibit – At The Speed Of Life

10 comments:

  1. By far, the greatest of Xzibit's albums! "Let It Rain" is worth the purchase alone... well, maybe not... but this album is definitely overlooked. And yes, you can only look forward!

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  2. AnonymousMay 18, 2009

    one of the best in the west? that's pushing it

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  3. yeah i seemed to always loose this one in the shuffle between speed of life and restless, this was the first xzibit cd i bought, i think i got it the day it came out of the strength of that fist single

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  4. "What You See Is What You Get" - song is SICK! And the video is pretty neat too.

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  5. i bought it and i wasn't disappointed, thanks for once again improving my collection

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  6. Watched a documentary by Simon Schama awhile ago titled "the american future". There's quite a bit in it about how Chinese workers layed much of the railroad track linking the country (in brutal conditions and for awful pay). It's a good watch.

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  7. That was one of my favourite albums from the 90's. What u see is what u get, 3 card molly, let it rain and handle your business are the highlights to me. Really underrated!

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  8. Dude, "rippin' tracks up like immigrant Chinese" makes total sense. The Chinese came to America to work on San Fransisco rail... duh?

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  9. They weren't destroying the railways that they built, though.

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  10. I was looking at the artwork for this album. And it looks like there are two versions. Only slightly different between the two - Glow around the album title, lighting, and Xzibit's chain. It looks it might be a Day Version (Lighter, glow around title, and X chain - perhaps symbolizing sun), and Night Version (darker, no glow around title, and Half moon chain)

    Day
    http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/71lN9zEktxL._SL1050_.jpg

    Night
    http://migratingtaste.oldeenglish.org/iloverap/xzibit-shroomz.jpg

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