Artist: MadvillainTitle: MadvillainyRating: 4 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Brolin Winning
A collaborative project between two of the most prolific, eccentric, and consistently dope artists in hip-hop today, Madvillainy has been highly anticipated (and repeatedly bootlegged) ever since word of its conception got out last year. Longtime underground favorites with alter egos aplenty, both Madlib and MF Doom continue to seduce new fans with their charismatic music and unstoppable work ethic. In the past year alone, Stones Throw beat maestro Madlib has produced entire albums for Dudley Perkins and Wildchild, remixed Blue Note jazz classics, and fronted his one-man band Yesterdays New Quintet. Meanwhile, Doom dropped two high-quality full-lengths under two different names (Viktor Vaughn’s Vaudeville Villain and King Geedorah’s Take Me To Your Leader), continued his Special Herbs instrumental series, and contributed scene-stealing verses on many other records. On their own, each of them is dangerous. Together – watch out.
Madlib’s production is some of his most inspired to date, a chaotically funky collection of jazz-drenched loops, finely chopped samples, bugged-out interludes, and blunted beats galore. Off the wall but always on point, his tracks set the perfect mood for Doom’s highly visual storytelling, bustling with quotable rhymes and delivered in a casually rambling flow. After a cinematic intro, they launch into “Accordion,” a short but sweet jam sporting a melancholy melody and references to Cheetos, Dick Dastardly and Mutley, Freudian slips, and Joe Tex. The first single, “America’s Most Blunted” speaks for itself, an unabashed ode to the powers of the green weed, set to a thumping, guitar-laced beat interspersed with bong hits and frantic scratches. Madlib gets some mic time as well, alongside his much-loved character Lord Quas (aka Quasimoto), who also shines on the absurdly ill Sun Ra tribute “Shadows of Tomorrow.”
“Figaro” begins with cool organ riffs before morphing into plodding boom-baps, as Doom drops an unrelenting string of rhymes that demand repeated listening. “Fancy Clown” finds Vik Vaughn addressing a failed relationship over a supremely soulful track heavy on the bass and piano chords. Guest appearances are limited and solid; Wildchild gets loose on “Hardcore Hustle,” Medaphoar does his thing on “Raid,” and Stacy Epps (of Sol Uprising) lends her creamy vocals to the mellow “Eye.” We also get plenty of collage-style dialogue skits and a few seriously dope instrumentals; “Sickfit” and “Supervillain Theme” are especially gangster. The album ends with a bang on “Rhinestone Cowboy,” with Doom going all out over some choice string blasts and spooky background singing.
With 22 tracks spanning just over 46 minutes, most of the tracks are short and to the point, effortlessly flowing into each other and making for an album you can actually sit and listen to all the way through. There are no cheesy choruses, no R&B radio hooks, and no dull moments in the mix. Madvillainy is a near-classic record and perfect example of why Madlib and MF Doom are running this rap shit.