Madvillain Madvillainy

[Stones Throw; 2004]

Styles: hipper-than-any-ah-thou-hop, turntables and macrophones
Others: Madlib, Yesterday’s New Quintet, Jaylib, MF Doom, Viktor Vaughn

Always thirsty and searching, I'm a lowly reviewer on an otherwise jazzy website devoted to pointing you in the direction of some of them hidden rubies and emeralds from the deeper, murkier depths of an increasingly vast ocean. Saying that you can do an album like Madvillainy justice in 350-450 words is like having a great, long passionate kiss with Scarlett Johansson and inanely blabbing about it to all your friends. As overwhelmingly hopped-up on controlled substances as this sonically heaped record is, you can't play it down. It's an unstoppably blunted, soupy-surreal, sampledelic, garrulous, ridiculous/goofy, and timeless raw beat blast that you don't want to skip out on.

While I'm not necessarily an MF Doom follower, I found his delivery very strident and undistracted by the listener-disorienting mass of bells and whistles coming down on him. But enough praise has been heaped on MF Doom these days that I believe Madlib should be taking that extra bow for this record. And that's not just because the production tends to be the first thing this reviewer looks to. For a deeper critique of MF Doom's raps on Madvillainy (there's certainly plenty to talk about), you'll have to find another review.

Aside from the minor detours, this is potentially a classic banger of a hip-hop record. The wall-o-sound, pastiche flow of the record is simply too much, but in the best way imaginable. The vibe is brazenly juvenile, with tracks riddled with blatant pot-smoking paraphernalia, along with some goofy, esoteric retro TV and movie snippets. To add to the madness, Madlib's helium voiced alter-ego Quasimoto pops up to rap in a very Anti-Pop vein on some tracks.

My friends will take some time to come around, but eventually this album will be a staple (your friends are most likely cooler, so they'll be on board immediately). The only reservation I'll offer up with regards to this album is its 50 car pile-up production. Madlib's production here has a rough, mid-fi feel that suits what's going on, but at times, its brazen cacophony can be a bit overwhelming to digest. I personally like music that gets to that steamrolling space of sound overdrive like Dalek or cLOUDDEAD. And Madlib's got much more, structurally, going on with his music than both of those artists put together. Nevertheless, the guy could possibly benefit from a little more focus here and there.

There is a defiantly herb-centric content on extended display here. Let me put it this way: You don't have to smoke weed to enjoy Madvillainy, but I'm sure it wouldn't hurt. Promoting drug use isn't necessarily a big deal to this reviewer, but kids of certain age and comprehensive ability should probably not be tuning in to albums like these. I'm sure Madlib and MF Doom take multiple five-stage hookah hits all night responsibly, so the weed thing is just like Morrison and his willynilly bottle of Butchers. In this way, Madvillainy is a dizzying synergy of heavy brains and chemistry, culminating in blissfully fun, irreverent, and engaging brand of record-making magic.

1. The Illest Villains
2. Accordion
3. Meat Grinder
4. Bistro
5. Raid, feat. M.E.D. aka Medaphoar
6. America's Most Blunte, feat. Quasimoto
7. Sickfit (Instrumental)
8. Rainbows
9. Curls
10. Do Not Fire!
11. Money Folder
12. Shadows of Tomorrow
13. Operation Lifesaver aka Mint Test
14. Figaro
15. Hardcore Hustle, feat. Wildchild
16. Strange Ways
17. Fancy Clown, feat. Viktor Vaughn
18. Eye, feat. Stacy Epps
19. Supervillain Theme #4 (Instrumental)
20. All Caps
21. Great Day
22. Rhinestone Cowboy