Jaylib Champion Sound

This highly anticipated collaboration featuring revered producers Jay Dee and Madlib rhyming over each other’s beats could be read as a huge letdown for those looking for these artists to retread past glories on this joint effort. Divorced from the surrounding hype and expectations what’s left is a record where two creative individuals throw curveballs and change-ups at each other not really worrying or caring about if anyone’s watching. Madlib’s tendency to go against the grain is well-established with his alter-egos, dusty beats and generally off-kilter production and his approach is no different here. It’s evident though that Jay Dee aka J Dilla is eager to break out of a formula; there’s even a short skit poking fun at his trademark neo-soul sound, which has been bitten endlessly. On Champion Sound, he’s subsumed his recent Giorgio Moroder-inspired phase into his past, often brewing up some dirty electronic fuzz. While J Dilla’s beats proceed pedantically, it’s Madlib who actually produces most of the instant head-nodders here often incorporating reggae influences into his ever-widening inspirational pool. As for mic duties, Madlib would be first to downplay any prowess in this area, but to his credit he does deploy his Quasimoto alter ego to humorous effect while Jay Dee concentrates on aggressive delivery rather than content, but is sometimes upstaged by the guest appearances. A gritty unconventional affair, Champion Sound is best viewed as an intriguing snapshot of these producers’ ongoing musical transitions. (Stones Throw)