The beat is so butter, peep the slow cutter
As he utter the calm flow (“Your mother!”), don’t talk about my moms, yo
Sometimes he rhyme quick, sometimes he rhyme slow
Or vice versa, whip up a slice of nice verse pie
Hit it on the first try, Villain: the worst guy
Spot hot tracks like spot a pair of fat asses
Shots of the scotch from out of square shot glasses
And he won’t stop ’til he got the masses
And show ’em what they know not through flows of hot molasses
Do it like the robot to headspin to boogaloo
Took a few minutes to convince the average bug-a-boo
It’s ugly, like look at you, it’s a damn shame
Just remember ALL CAPS when you spell the man name….
Yesterday marked the 13th anniversary of a modern instant hip hop masterwork. Madvillainy is the first full-length collaborative effort from metal-masked, comic book-themed hip hop supervillain MF Doom and prolific, multi-talented super-producer Madlib, released on equally fruitful indie hip hop and soul-specializing label Stones Throw Records. Together as Madvillain, the duo presents one of the most innovative and original hip hop records ever made. With 22 tracks clocking in at just over 46 minutes, the short songs serve as little musical vignettes that blend together beautifully with the aid of instrumental interludes and sampled clips of TV/movie dialogue.
Madlib’s production on this joint is truly out of this world and all over the place when it comes to diversity and unpredictability, to say the least; I’d even say he’s on the same level as his late, great friend and fellow production wizard J Dilla (who passed away in 2006) in terms of creativity and sample-flipping skills, not to mention his penchant for using obscure samples from various genres to create an overall cohesive sound, almost like an orchestra. Doom’s blunted, largely stream-of-consciousness-fueled lyrical adventures are often highlighted by his dark and random sense of humor and his consistent blessing of Madlib’s beats on Madvillainy is surely one of the proudest moments of his nearly 30-year career; older heads might remember the enigmatic emcee’s humble beginnings as Zev Love X, frontman of the group KMD, a decade before reinventing himself and donning the metal mask in the late ’90s.
The lead single, “All Caps”, is one of the major highlights on Madvillainy with its infectious flute sample and signature comic book vibe (which is appropriately accompanied by an animated video stylized in a nostalgic comic fashion). Other notable moments include the hilarious “Operation Lifesaver (Mint Test)”, the jazzy “Rainbows”, the feel-good “Great Day”, the droning and offbeat (but uniquely dope) “Accordion” and additional strong album cuts “Meat Grinder”, “Curls” and closing number “Rhinestone Cowboy”. The guest features are very far and far between; Madlib’s frequent collaborator MED (also known as Medaphoar) and fellow Lootpack cohort Wildchild appear on “Raid” and “Hardcore Hustle”, respectively, while the producer/emcee’s own helium-voiced alter-ego Quasimoto pops up on “America’s Most Blunted” and “Shadows Of Tomorrow” and alternative neo-soul songstress Stacy Epps shines on the “Eye” interlude.
Madvillainy was easily my favorite album for several months following its initial release and it has since earned high praise across the board from just about every noteworthy publication and critic as well as a whole new cult-like generation of hipsters and backpackers. The project is a supreme example of two seasoned veterans displaying a remarkable chemistry in the prime of their respective careers and I think it’s safe to say that Madvillain held down the underground in 2004 while Kanye West dominated the mainstream with his equally important debut album The College Dropout that same year. In 2014, Stones Throw was kind enough to feed the tape fiend in me when they reissued Madvillainy on cassette (presumably for the album’s 10th anniversary) and I must say it’s a perfect fit for the all-but-abandoned medium. An official sequel to this joint has been rumored, teased and hinted at for several years now with no concrete evidence of it coming out anytime soon, although a limited edition remixed version of the album was released in 2008. Even if Madvillain’s second studio album never comes to fruition, Madvillainy is something special that can just as easily be remembered as a one-time, one-of-a-kind classic in its own right for many generations to come.