Stones Throw

SHUFFLER 0100: NEITHER BACTRIAN NOR DROMEDARY

SHUFFLER 0100: NEITHER BACTRIAN NOR DROMEDARY
Thursday, September 3, 2015
Madlib – “Indian Hump” from Beat Konducta Vol 3-4: Beat Konducta in India (2007 Stones Throw)

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I can probably get through this whole post without saying “East meets West,” right?

This track is one of 34 on the instrumental album Beat Konducta in India, a continuation of soundscapes he’d created with an eye towards cinema. About the first installment (Volumes 1 & 2, released in 2006), Wikipedia describes it as “a soundtrack to a nonexistent movie in Madlib’s imagination. That’s evident on this track (technically the second track on the first of the two LPs that made up the vinyl release of Volumes 3 & 4), which mashes up two vampy loops that shouldn’t go together – soul piano and Indian strings.

But Madlib is Madlib, and so it works. And when it stops to give voice to some Bollywood dialogue that I can’t for the life of me understand (I’m ashamed to say I don’t even know what language it is, but I think probably Hindi), it still kind of makes sense some how, punctuating the track with some urgency.

The beat that undergirds the whole thing is a sort of shuffling traipsy hip-hop beat that sounds exactly like the kind of thing a producer who likes to cut things up and put them back together would probably create.

I know I’ve said it before, but I think that Madlib is one of the most interesting producers in hip-hop. His creations aren’t always the most accessible (though this one isn’t all difficult), and that’s fine. There’s joy in his music — he’s creating the projects he wants to create — and that, to me, is the mark of high art.

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SHUFFLER 0015: ARE YOU READY? ALRIGHT!

SHUFFLER 0015: ARE YOU READY? ALRIGHT!
Thursday, September 11, 2014
Madvillain – “Invazion (Interlude)” from Madvillainy 2: The Madlib Remix (2008 Stones Throw)

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Man.

If you don’t know about Madvillain, take a moment to check out the picture above. We have two dudes, one of whom is exhaling what his eyelids indicate is some fairly potent weed smoke, the other of which is peering out from behind a creepy metal mask. I feel like that pretty much gives you all you need to imagine what this track might be all about.

I’ll indulge you anyway. The gentleman on the left is Daniel Dumile, a.k.a. DOOM, a.k.a. MF DOOM (the MF in this case standing in for “Metal Face”, and sometimes also “Metal Fingers”. I suppose it might also stand in for an expletive). The gentleman on the right is Otis Jackson, Jr., a.k.a. Madlib, a.k.a. a million other personas that aren’t germaine to this discussion (but which include Quasimoto, among others).

Basically, these two are some of the most interesting DJ/producer types in all of hip-hop (though DOOM primarily MCed on this album, I think). Can I say that? I feel like I can say that now that J Dilla has passed. I’d go even further and say that Madlib is the closest thing that we have to J Dilla anymore (which makes sense, I suppose, as they worked together in the past).

That’s a pretty good place to pick up the story, because Madlib’s dedication to the craft (and the hours in the studio that go with it) are the impetus for this record. In 2004, Madlib and DOOM teamed up to make an album, calling themselves Madvillain (DOOM’s whole deal is that he is a super villain, and they took”Mad” from, well, you get it, right?), and the album Madvillainy. A little while later, Madlib, preparing for a ten-hour flight to Tokyo, reworked the entire album into a little headphone treat for himself. The good people at Stone’s Throw had the good sense to make it available for the rest of us, and so here we are.

The original Madvillain record has 22 tracks, while the reworking has 26, including three interludes and a reprise.

This one is one of the interludes, so it’s anybody’s guess whether the beat originates in the first record or not. I do the very best work that I can for you, I really do, but I’m not enough of a source hound to solve that mystery. Plus, by the time Madlib gets his hands on something, it gets cut up six different ways (see: Yesterday’s New Quintet), so I have no idea. It’s a minute and thirteen seconds of a pretty straightforward beat. There’s a Scooby Doo organ, a horn break, the occasional door chime, and what seem to be some pretty heavy funk vocal samples (“Are you ready? Alright!”).

What I like best about this collaboration can be summed up with this quote from the Wikipedia entry for the original Madvillainy album:

Madvillainy was praised for its unique and innovative approach to hip hop; short tracks, abstract lyrics, few choruses and a sound generally unfriendly to commercial radio.

Indeed.

For what it’s worth, I don’t know what’s going on with the video below, but it doesn include a bonus song, “Cold One,” so that’s cool. Note: DOOM sometimes says some misogynistic shit here, something I’ll take him to task for in a later post, no doubt.