This is the long awaited collabo between underground (if there still is such thing) hip-hop's two most esteemed producers: Madlib (Lootpack, Quasimoto, Yesterday's New Quintet, etc.) and Jay Dee (Slum Village, The Ummah). If you follow non-commercial hip-hop in any capacity, you are no doubt familiar with the extensive list of artists that these two have worked with, and you know what these two cats are capable of. Accordingly, this project was so hyped that an earlier version that was leaked on the internet was completely shelved and reworked, this version is completely differently than any advance tracks you may have heard. Does it live up to the hype? Of course not, but that doesn't prevent Champion Sound from being a pretty damned good, if occasionally inconsistent album. Madlib and Jay split reverse production and MCing duties on every other track; and while we're obviously checking this album more for the beats than the rhymes (there's a few moments here that make Pete Rock sound like Rakim), Jay Dee brings adequate lyrical heat & flow on bangers like McNasty Filth feat. Detroit homey Frank-N-Dank, and the first single The Red. With that track's sick bumping analog-fart bassline, you'd only notice the words if they got in the way, and they don't. Neither of the pair break any new ground stylistically and I don't think that we'd want them to anyways; Madlib shows his sampling chops on The Official, nicely utilizing a different chunk of the same Gap Mangione joint that Jay Dee used for Slum Village's Fall In Love. And there's other treats here too. The Exclusive lets criminally underrated guest MC Percee P shine, the Jay Dee produced Stars amply demonstrates his knack for integrating samples with a more electronic, keyboard-based sound, and No Games is just a straight-up nasty beat, funky analog synths and shuffling drums showcasing Madlib at the top his game. Champion Sound's not gonna blow you away, but there's more enough to chew on here. The amount of great beats these two are responsible for is kind of staggering, and that prolific creativity is ultimately what makes this album worth picking up.
- music label: Stones Throw 2003
reviewed by: Language 10/2005
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