Xzibit

Weapons of Mass Destruction (Sony Music Urban/Columbia)

The youngest MTV viewers know Xzibit primarily as the host of Pimp My Ride, in which he comes across as the benign, good-humored benefactor of shitbox autos. Musically, though, his grin turns to grim on a regular basis. Weapons is characteristic of his work: a spare, stern hip-hop foray that emphasizes hyper-articulate street wisdom over honey and hooks.

Current events are on Xzibit's mind judging by "State of the Union," in which a heavily edited George W. Bush is made to say, "The tyrant is me." For the most part, however, X sticks to the usual motifs: the gangsta life ("Ride or Die"), those damn women ("Crazy Ho") and so on. As a result, the main attraction is often his delivery, which is crisp and authoritative even on tracks that fail to rise above the ordinary.

It's not that Xzibit's approach is radio-hostile: The propulsive "Hey Now (Mean Muggin')," overseen by Timbaland, sounds great coming out of a boombox. But most of the other vehicles on display are pretty stripped down. As any Pimp My Ride viewer knows, it pays to accessorize.

 
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