Now that Xzibit is enjoying his first platinum album with Restless and Tha Liks are prepping for the June 5 release of their X.O. Experience, the Likwit Crew is firing on all cylinders.
The Los Angeles-based collective has several new projects brewing; each member of Tha Liks Tash, E-Swift and J-Ro is working on a solo set, and Xzibit is working on his next album, tentatively titled Man Vs. Machine (see "Xzibit Stays Restless On Headlining Tour").
The first new development to see the light of day is a Likwit Crew Presents compilation overseen by King T, the collective's founding father. Scheduled to arrive in stores by the end of August, the record will feature tracks with the established members of the clique King T, Tha Liks, Xzibit, Defari, Loot Pack and Phil Da Agony as well as affiliates Dilated Peoples.
Even with all of this proven firepower, the project's emphasis will be to introduce the newest rapping inductees to the clan: Major, Tri State, Ben Buford and the Gunz Click.
"It started out with me wanting to do a Likwit Crew album with just us, but we had a meeting about it and we're going to hold up on it and plan it right," King T said. "While I've got the opportunity to do [something else], I'm going to let these new cats shine on most of the album."
Up-and-coming beatmakers Pen 1, Thayod, Stoobie Doo and Clever will deliver much of the album's sonic shine. King T said he hopes the compilation will provide a solid platform for the next wave of Likwit members.
"This is really to let the young cats shine," said King T, who also has a deal with Ruthless Records, the label founded by late gangsta rap pioneer Eazy-E. "On the West Coast, it's so hard for people to get put on because it is Hollywood and people get Hollywood on you. But I like kicking back and letting the young cats just explode, like we did with Tha Liks and Xzibit."
The Likwit Crew full-length, which will feature King T, Tha Liks and Xzibit more prominently, will surface sometime in 2002, according to E-Swift, who may release the set on his own Street Soul imprint.
"It's going to be like how the Juice Crew would have done it back in the days," E-Swift said, referring to the Marley Marl-helmed projects that featured hip-hop heavyweights such as Big Daddy Kane, Biz Markie and Kool G. Rap. "Everybody's going to be getting together on one album, and if there's any outside people, it's going to be people that we've done stuff with before. We just want to show the world that we, as the Likwit Crew, can hold down a complete album from start to finish [that will] be as hot as the next album. I think people expect that from us now.
"Everybody's proven themselves as artists, and we've got the respect we deserve," he continued. "It's time we display our skills together on multiple songs instead of us just showing up on Xzibit's album for a song or Xzibit being on one song of ours."
Billed as King Tee, King T introduced Tha Liks, then known as Tha Alkaholiks, on his 1993 release, Tha Triflin' Album. Tha Liks dropped their debut collection, 21 & Over, later that year. Xzibit arrived with At the Speed of Life in 1996.
The crew had not enjoyed a platinum album until Xzibit's Restless, which was released in December 2000 and featured production from Dr. Dre and guest vocals from Tash and J-Ro. The LP helped the Likwit Crew enjoy increased radio and video play, something they wouldn't mind seeing with the compilation.
"If we get a radio hit, that's cool. We'll never knock that," King T said. "But we're really trying to stick it to the underground with the Likwit compilation. This is for the backpack kids and the kids who like good hip-hop. That's what it's all about. We're not trying to sound like Dre or Puffy. We're just going straight for the dirty beats and rhymes. It's where the Likwit Crew started."