Madlib Shades of Blue

[Blue Note; 2003]

Rating: 4/5

Styles: jazz-hip hop, underground hip-hop, experimental hip-hop
Others: Lootpack, Peanut Butter Wolf, Yesterday’s New Quintet

Oh, how beautiful is the art of crate digging. To hip hop producer and collaborator Madlib, crate digging is like your father handing you the keys for the new Porsche parked in the driveway. Blue Note Records extended their many thanks to Madlib and his jazz influenced hip-hop sound by giving him the keys to the vault. I can see Madlib’s facial expression, feeling like a child in a candy store. And what transpired is a beautiful reconstruction of many great songs into a jazz-hip hop amalgamation called Shades of Blue, Madlib most recent album release.

Madlib’s resume has grown to all-star status in the last two years. Primarily driven by Lootpack and the production of the off-kilter Quasimoto, Madlib has extended his work by contributing to the jazz-influenced Yesterdays New Quintet and most recently, creating a collaboration under the title Blunted In The Bomb Shelter Mix. But the self-proclaimed Loop Digga has recently had another trick up his sleeve. With the help of yesterday’s legendary jazz performers on the most renowned Jazz label Blue Note, Madlib has created an innovative and fresh record by cutting and pasting several classic jazz songs and adding a personal dash of refreshing and uplifting hip-hop. The mixture is compelling and inventive, exposing us to the art of blending musical genres. But Shades of Blue does not only consist of remixed jazz tracks and also offers some original covers by Madlib’s Yesterdays New Quintet and Morgan Adams Quartet Plus Two. The mixture creates a harmonized and consistently surprising album from beginning to end. 

Madlib’s vision is clear throughout Shades of Blue. His boundaries are endless and his musical approach is imaginative, focusing on the marriage of music and the ability of creating something refreshing and contemporary. Overall, Madlib’s visualization has been achieved on this album. And for Blue Note Records, they could not have picked a better hip-hop producer to market their newfound jazz interpretations. Shades of Blue is the perfect example of the asset resulted by fusing the old and the new. 

1. Intro
2. Slim's return
3. Mystic land
4. Mystic bounce
5. Stormy
6. Blue Note interlude
7. Please set me at ease
8. Funky blue note
9. Alfred Lion interlude
10. Stepping into Tomorrow
11. Andrew Hill break
12. Montara
13. Song for my father
14. Footprints
15. Peace/Dolphin dance
16. Outro