When it comes to Madlib these days I am constantly of two minds. He is, without question a visionary, a musical prodigy with few peers in modern music. His style is copied by and has influenced countless other artists. He has released some of my all-time favorite albums (Quasimoto "The Unseen," Lootpack "Soundpieces Da Antidote." JayLib "Champion Sound," Madvillain "Madvillainy," Declaime "Andsoitisaid") and any number of tracks and remixes that are bright spots on the work of other artists (just click here for a full discography of the guy).
At the same time he meanders and wanders and has a general weed head's penchant for getting lost inside his own obsessions. When he works without a creative collaborator he can become tedious. His attempts at Jazz, while interesting for their very audaciousness, are not particularly good. I would call his most recent Yesterdays New Quintet album almost un-listenable. His beat albums have up to this point been mostly dull, tiresome affairs with few gems that might eventually end up on one of his crew's albums. His own lo-fi aesthetic has spawned a mutant band of poor sound quality, talentlessness within underground hip hop that has been allowed to masquerade as artistically stylized because of the cover layed down by some of his work.
All this being said, I still fucking LOVE the guy!! I wait with anticipation for each of his new releases. I gleefully insert them into my CD player and give them my full attention. Because whether I love it or hate it I know that I'm listening to a real artist in the truest sense of the word. He follows his own muse, blithely unaware of the cultural whirlpools that he leaves in his wake. His name alone could have gotten him some sorta major label production deal. He coulda been producing for 50, or Eminem, or any number of other cookie cutter mainstream artists. But this guy does his own thing. Makes his own music. Works with cats that he wants to work with. And the underground loves him for it! I love him for it!!
All this leads me to Madlib's most recent album "Beat Konducta vol. 3-4: In India." While I have usually been underwhelmed by his beat tapes with delusions-of-album-grandeur this release sees Madlib take a slightly different approach. The samples & vocal sound bites come from Indian Bollywood soundtracks. No great surprise in and of itself, Madlib used the same approach previously on "Beat Konducta vol. 1-2 movie scenes." But this time the production is a little more polished. The drums sound (dare I say) clean and compressed. The samples are intricately chopped and layered with a mathematical precision. Each instrumental pulses with what feels like a specific purpose and direction. This strikes me as Madlib with a Ritalin prescription. Maybe Oxnard went through a month long green drought? I don't know but this album is one of his most cohesive projects in quite some time.
Take a listen to a few tracks and make sure to go pick up the album from Stone's Throw as soon as it drops. I don't think you'll be disappointed.
Download "Sitar Ride"
doesn't that sample sound like "King of Pain" by The Police???
Download "Club Scene"