Thursday, August 04, 2005

Mad plays the bass like the race card

Essential: Madlib

Rapper/Producer Madlib has so many aliases and projects, it's a wonder he even remembers who he truly is. Born Otis Jackson, Jr., Madlib made a name for himself in the rap group Lootpack with his high school friends (DJ Romes and Wild Child) from Oxnard (40 miles N. of LA.) A demo tape caught the ear King Tee and he had them produce tracks on his Alkoholiks (aka The Liks) releases, 21 & Over (1993,) Coast II Coast (1995) and Likwidation (1997.)

Lootpack had trouble getting their own music out, however, and it wasn't until their poorly distributed EP, Psyche Move (1996) got in the hands of Peanut Butter Wolf that they got a proper release, on his Stones Throw label. They released three singles, "Anthem" (1998,) "Questions and "Whenimondamic" (1999) preceding their first full-length, Soundpieces: Da Antidote! (1999,) which got good reviews, but went unnoticed. Madlib, however, did not and became Peanut Butter Wolf's producer d'jour for his label, including a new artist that turned to be his alter-ego: Quasimoto.

Madlib began his solo career by acting as himself for producer, and as the alter-ego Quasimoto for the rapping duties. Unseen (1999) was released to huge critical success, and is one of the most unique and rewarding albums of it's era. A puzzle-piece jazz-rap piece of ear candy, Madlib alters his voice, puffed up on helium (much like Prince in "If I Was Your Girlfriend" and his abandoned Camille project.) Rhymes are loose, paranoid (seemingly bunt-induced) and come out of nowhere and disappear quickly, weaving in between jazz loops and crazy found spoken word samples.

Following this, Madlib put out a jazz album as Yesterday's New Quintet (Angles Without Edges, 1999,) which explores a fusion of jazz and hip-hop. He plays all the instruments in his studio, then cuts them up and samples them together. Further splitting his identity, Madlib even names his ficticious YNQ group members (Monk Hughes, Ahmad Miller, Joe McDurfey, and Malik Flowers, for those that care.)

Based on the strength of his YNQ project, Blue Note approached Madlib and gave him full access to their inventory to use as he wished for a reinterpretation of the Blue Note library. Shadows of Blue is what came of it, and while under the Madlib moniker, it has more in common with the YNQ alias with it's Jazz sound. What's great about the album is Madlib's use of the Blue Note samples (like Gene Harris' "The Look of Slim") to fit into his own sound. About the same time, Madlib then joined his old Lootpack buddy, Wildchild, to produce and perform on his debut, Secondary Protocol. A few other notable appearances in the next year were on De La Soul's The Grind (2004,) and his collaboration with Jay-Dee (Jaylib Champion Sound, 2004.)

In 2002, Madlib traveled to Brazil for business with uncompleted rough tracks for meant for a collaboration with MFDoom, called Madvillain. These tracks were leaked and created a huge stir, putting pressure on the two as they got down to finally recording the tracks in 2003. When the album, Madvillainy(2004,) was finally released, all the anticapation was well-founded: It's a hip-hop masterpiece. Making most every best of lists for 2004, Madvillainy saw two disparate styles fused together as of one mind. Twenty-two short and blunted tracks are built with layer upon layer of sick-beats and well thought out samples, making for probably the most exciting hip-hop underground releases ever.
Mad plays the bass like the race card/ Villain on the case to break shards and leave her face scarred.
- "Great Day Today"
Not to be outdone, Madlib's Quasimoto came back this year with another solid release, The Further Adventures Of Lord Quas (2005.) You could almost call it The Unseen 2005, which is goooood... not a hit amongst the 20+ tracks, but a highly compelling listen nonetheless. Of particular note is the giving-props-heavy song "Rappcats Pt. 3." Name checking Africa Baambaata, Schooly D, Boogie Down Prod., Public Enemy and more (which prolly more significant to me right now as I'm pouring through Jeff Chang's excellent page-turner, Can't Stop, Won't Stop: The History of the Hip Hop Generation. Madvillain accomplice MFDoom is back for the excellent track "Closer," which has Lord Quas in full hyper-mode:
MFDoom, Quas high like sky scrappers / Quasimoto gettin more ass than toilet paper / Who / Astro Black on attack you up on the bozack / Know smarts / Lightweight / Ya bald head like Cojack - "Closer"
Previous Essential:
Essential: Joe Pernice
Essential: Lifter Puller

Essential: In theory, Essentials are the best by an artist/group with the sum total of the tracks fitting neatly on an 80-minute CD. Ideally, artists that have multiple projects.

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2 comments:

drake leLane said...

Essential: Madlib

* "Slim's Return" - Dj Madlib
* "Rappcats Pt. 3" - Quasimoto
* "Weededed" - Lootpack
* "America's Most Blunted " - Madvillain (featuring Lord Quas)
* "Shopping Bags (She Got From You)" - De La Soul
* "Chops & Thangs" - Beat Conductor
* "Come On Feet" - Quasimoto
* "The Anthem" - Lootpack
* "Breaks Of Meditate" - Beat Conductor
* "The Red" - Jaylib
* "Microphone Mathematics" - Quasimoto
* "Figaro" - Madvillain
* "Julani" - Yesterdays New Quintet
* "Questions" - Lootpack
* "Closer" - Quasimoto feat. Madvillain
* "Mystic Bounce" - Madlib
* "Great Day" - Madvillain
* "Hydrant Game" - Quasimoto
* "Whenimondamic" - Lootpack
* "Harlem River Drive Interlude" - Yesterday's New Quintet
* "Put A Curse On You" - Quasimoto
* "Puttin' In Work" - Wildchild
* "Accordion" - Madvillain
* "Discipline 99 Pt. 0 - (featuring Mr. Herb)" - Quasimoto
* "Outro" - Madlib

Anonymous said...

Thanks from all at Stones Throw for your support!