|E-Swift, Rockwilder, The Neptunes, DJ Scratch, DJ Twinz
|Xzibit, Shae Fiol, Busta Rhymes, Defari, Butch Cassidy, King T, Kurupt
|2000, 19 Tracks at 57mins44secs
|Eitan Prince aka Supafly
In an industry where artists fall off more frequently than Wu-Tang members change their monikers, you can understand the pressure on the Alkaholiks with the making of their fourth album, X.O. Experience. After three critically-acclaimed, but commercially-disappointing efforts that hardly threatened the platinum-plaque makers, it was almost a given that Alkies Tash, J-Ro and E-Swift would shoot for the pop charts.
So what do they do? For one, the trio have changed their name to the less offensive Liks and, for this album, roped in production assistance from beatsmiths of the moment, the Neptunes, Rockwilder, and veteran DJ Scratch. The result? Well, they haven't lost their frat-boy irreverence or rambunctious approach to making music, and lyrically they actually seem to have spiked their verbal punches. However, beat-wise, Tha Liks occasionally mix their drinks. It's not that the album is poorly produced or even too 'poppy' and 'blingy' - sometimes their beats and rhymes simply lack synergy.
Alkaholiks fans who were down from the get-go will remember the old skoolism of '21 & Over', the dark funk of 'Coast II Coast' and the eclectic - erm... patchy - production of 'Likwidation'. When describing the Likwit sound of 2001, however, the only word that comes to mind is synthetic.
That said, if you're looking for party jams with superior lyrics, you might revel in tracks like 'Run Wild', which bangs despite its cheesy sung hook, 'L-I-K-S', where Tash and Ro break down their Likwit ideology, and the neurotic 'Goin Crazy'. Sadly, as with most modern rap releases, X.O. hits a few bumps and spills a couple of drinks along the way, most notably on filler material like 'Sickiness' and the King-T assisted 'The Bubble', where Tha Liks come off like a shandy rather than strohrum.
To recycle a popular phrase, this album is Tha Liks, but not as we once knew them... you may prefer your Likwit of an older vintage. [7.5/10]