Published Jan 01, 2006Madlib's wildly eclectic output in the last year has traversed hip-hop, jazz, reggae, broken beat, and several alter egos. A restless creative spirit, the connection between this producer, DJ and multi-instrumentalist's varied output is his intentionally raw, dusty and quirky style. This inimitable sound is forged by Madlib's consistent approach to avoid rueful revisions or perfectionist tendencies. Whether he's banging out beats on his $300 sampler or tickling the Rhodes keyboard, he'll not linger but press on to the next sonic adventure. Add the fact he often logs 20 hours a day in his converted bomb shelter studio basement in L.A. and the accounting for his prolific output becomes abundantly clear.
Madlib draws his lab rat tendencies from his soul vocalist father Otis Jackson and his trumpeter uncle John Faddis, who played with Dizzy Gillespie and Roy Ayers; jazz is the overarching influence in Madlib's work. His reverential attitude was manifested on Shades of Blue: Madlib Invades Blue Note where he deftly remixed, revamped or reworked master recordings from the legendary Blue Note label, incorporating elements of his Yesterday's New Quintet jazz band alter ego where he takes on five different fictitious personas. While he also released a broken beat single in tandem with a London producer under the pseudonym DJ Rels and helmed a mix-tape style retrospective of reggae label Trojan for Blunted In The Bomb Shelter, he's lost none of his hip-hop strut. He baked potent beats for Wildchild, a member of his original hip-hop crew the Lootpack, for his Secondary Protocol release and supplied bugged-out sonics for the charmingly off-key shower warbling of Dudley Perkins' A Lil' Light.
But his Jaylib project, Champion Sound with Detroit maestro Jay Dee, showcased his evolving sonic prowess and deservedly garnered the most attention on the hip-hop front. With anticipated projects in collaboration with MF Doom, a sophomore effort from his helium-voiced MC alter ego Quasimoto and upcoming production and remixing work with artists as divergent as Busta Rhymes and Radiohead on the horizon, it looks like the Madlib Invazion is actually just getting started.