The problem with music reviews is that a writer might say something to describe an album or song that gets you interested enough to listen, but when you do, your impressions are inevitably tainted by the reviewer's perspective. The experience of discovering something on your own is spoiled.
This is why I'll keep direct commentary on Madlib's music to a minimum. Instead, I've made available for download a set he did for BBC Radio One with J-Rocc and Medaphoar so you can check him out first-hand (link below).
While you're downloading the mix, go to www.discogs.com and search "Madlib." He's put out so much music since 1995 one might think Madlib is a collective, which makes sense given how many names he's released music under. There's Quasimoto, DJ Rels, Lootpack, Yesterday's New Quintet, Malik Flavors, and collaborative projects with MF DOOM (Madvillain), and J Dilla (Jaylib). The dude works his ass off, yet he's less well-known than Dilla, Pete Rock, and DJ Premier. There are a couple reasons why. One is that Madlib hasn't done any major label stuff like the others. The other reason, in my opinion, is he is ahead of his time.
Born Otis Jackson Jr. in Oxnard, California to a father famous in the jazz world, as a kid Madlib supposedly made loops out of his parents' records without any formal training. He got his first fame rhyming and producing beats for Lootpack, a group comprised of himself and two dudes he grew up with. In 2000, he released The Unseen under his Quasimoto persona, and critics lost their minds trying to describe just how good it was. In 2004, he dropped Madvillainy with MF DOOM, a truly classic album and personal favorite.
Here is a video from the album to check out...
In 2007, he's dropping a Yesterday's New Quintet album, and volume 3-4 of his Beat Kondukta instrumental series. Also worth checking out is his Mind Fusion mix series, of which there are five. I like volumes 1 and 4.
Madlib makes hip hop, soul, and jazz music for people who understand nuance. Download the mix, put it on and do something. Clean your room, have a BBQ with your friends. Madlib has a rare understanding of the ebb and flow of a listener's attention span. His selections don't tax the brain yet pull you smoothly in the right direction until all of a sudden you're there and it's so painless you forgot how it happened. And every so often he'll drop one of his own beats, something so full of bass and funk and disgusting goodness it makes other music sound irrelevant and fake.
Consider yourself invited.
Link to Mix: http://www.megaupload.com/?d=J1RU1LSD
Review by: Ed Casey
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More of Madlib -- Interview