Madlib Time Out Presents: The Other Side Los Angeles

[Deaf Dumb and Blind; 2007]

Styles: jazz hip-hop, jazz-fusion, dub reggae, experimental hip-hop
Others: The Beat Konducta, Jaylib, Peanut Butter Wolf, Quasimoto, Yesterdays New Quintet

If anyone knows the Los Angeles underground rap scene, it's Otis Jackson Jr. Whatever moniker you want to assign him, the cred he’s built up is impossible to separate from his newest disc, Time Out Presents: The Other Side Los Angeles. Packaged as a box set with a fun but unmemorable DVD by Stones Throw’s Peanut Butter Wolf, Madlib’s latest mixtape is an intriguing disc, at least.

Like Madlib’s mesmerizing Shades of Blue, The Other Side of Los Angeles is, not surprisingly, rife with jazz and jazz-fusion, particularly that of Miles Davis, Chick Corea, and Herbie Hancock. And indeed this is soon apparent with Mark Murphy’s "Sly," produced and co-written by Hancock himself. The decision to include a track by saxophonist Steve Grossman, a former player with Davis after Wayne Shorter left his band, seals the deal. It’s great to see Madlib promulgating artists like this in such an interesting context, but their connection with Los Angeles is arbitrary at best (Mark Murphy only lived in L.A. for two years; Grossman is a New York native).

This fact raised my eyebrows even before I noticed a few other questionable L.A. natives, such as Jamaicans Linval Carter (a.k.a Prince Jazzbo) and Leroy ‘Horsemouth’ Wallace, not to mention Cyberton and Dabrye from Detroit. An artistic statement regarding the cultural amalgam that L.A. has come to be? That’s up to you, but far more frustrating than the geographical discrepancies are the five tracks included from previous albums. "Smog Theme" is a safe and straightforward beat, and "Greenery," an anything-but-subtle ode to herb, is somehow far less enjoyable here than it was on The Further Adventures of Lord Quas. I can never get enough of Madlib talking to himself through Quasimoto, but this is clearly not his best work.

This was all tolerable until I started reading the liner notes. Filled with maps and descriptions of hipster hot spots in the city, it would have been alright had Time Out not included its ridiculously stupid travel tips. "Don’t drink and drive: the penalties can be punitive," the notes warn. I can just see Madlib and PBW laughing together as they read the liner notes for the first time, particularly concerning a clever tip for good service at bars: "If you take care of your bartender, they’ll generally take care of you." Wink wink, nudge nudge.

In any case, the idea of cruising through L.A. with nothing but this disc wouldn’t be a bad time. On the other hand, 46 minutes won’t get you that far in L.A. traffic, so I think I’ll pass.

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