Since the days that they cracked the 40's open on the
classic 21 & Over, Tha Liks (formerly Tha Alkaholiks) have been making music that would appeal to any hip
hop head. While they are reppin' the west for sure, their music has a unique
combination of both east coast and west coast hip hop.
A lot of heads were paranoid (myself included) that X.O. Experience would be too commercial when word came about that Rockwilder and The Neptunes did some production. I have to say that I am quite relieved as E-Swift still handled the brunt of the beats and represented well. While this LP does possess a different sound than their previous work its more of a sound evolution than selling out to the radio.
The obligatory Likwit Crew appearances are here, Xzibit (twice), Defari, and King T (where is Phil Tha Ag?). Busta Rhymes makes a surprise appearance on the playful, DJ Scratch produced Bully Foot. E-Swift shows his versatility with a more synthesized sound on Bar Code and My Dear. 40 Oz Quartet (parts 1 & 2) are both covers of 2 beats (the names of which I can't remember for the life of me) meant to sound like the beat was made by blowing into a 40 Oz bottle. Very dope stuff. E-Swift goes horn crazy on the jazzy L-I-K-S.
Tash kicks one of the illest verses of the album on the dope Thayod produced DA DA DA DA with lines like the genie in the bottle gave Tash like 30 wishes/first I wished for health cuz I be thinkin' 'bout myself/I be drinkin' by myself/liver shrinkin' like an elf. Best U Can sounds like a vintage E-Swift track but is actually done by The Neptunes, nice adaption fellas. The guitar driven Anotha Pound is off the heezy even with the chorus.
The weak moments of the album come with Rockwilder's continued weak production, both Run Wild and Sickness are both hella wack beats. 151 seems a little uninspired but I think this track might grow on me so I haven't counted it out yet. Promote Violins featuring Kurupt just isn't the right sound for Tha Liks. Other then that X.O. Experience is another strong album. It is hard to hate on an album with Tash and J-Ro ripping mics they way they do. Their energy and charisma are as evident as ever and their lyrics are only getting better. Meanwhile, E-Swift again proves himself to be one of the premier beatsmiths in hip hop. After surviving likwidation from coast to coast with those that are 21 and over, this X.O. experience has left me realizing that I will be an alki for life.