Lootpack The Lost Tapes

Before Madvillain, before Yesterday’s New Quintet and before Quasimoto or any other of his several alter egos, Madlib was your average MC/producer in the Lootpack. Along with DJ Romes, and offbeat rhymer Wildchild they released the dusty full-length, Soundpieces: Da Antidote on Stones Throw back in 1999, that in hindsight laid down the foundation for the dusty sound now associated with the label. The loose, freeform recordings on this collection are circa 1996 when the group was managed by Madlib’s father and finds the now-renowned maverick producer in comparatively restrained form. Madlib’s scope and imagination was clearly fixated on East coast jazzy hip-hop production from the early ’90s laying down soundscapes for his hungry crew including the likes of Kazi, Declaime and Medaphoar who have all become part of the Stones Throw roster. Madlib’s own strong mic presence is noticeable given his now oft-voiced boredom with rhyming, but it’s his production that is the most fascinating element here. While a resolutely hip-hop project, which will be welcomed by those still waiting for a Lootpack follow-up album, the burgeoning jazzy flourishes and and Madlib’s already accomplished ear for sound makes the record an important starting point for adherents of his more recent exploratory work too. (Crate Diggas Palace)