It took me a long time to write this review. I tried to do it the way Madlib made the record: I smoked about 3 ounces of high grade and then got down to work. Unfortunately for Lab, that meant that I spent most of the time I should've been writing listening to this incredible LP again and again, giggling over the hundreds of tiny psychedelic fragments within. From the very first cut, Bullyshit, where Quas sounds like a Just Don't Give a Fuck-era Eminem, you know this is some bugged-out genius. There's not a single tune that runs the beat straight through without an incomparably odd break, sound effect or twisted change-up coming out of left field. Add in Madlib's increasingly adept rhymes (yeah I said it) that flip dizzyingly back and forth in pitch from Quas helium to white-guy squeak to standard drawl, plus subject matter that references magic mushrooms as well as la yerba buena (Greenery), and you have a thoroughly psychedelic experience. I mean, the guy used Frank Zappa graphics on the cover and even has a song named after the Beatles' heaviest ode to acid (Tomorrow Never Knows). Of course, the main ingredient in this stew is the man's vast record collection, and for the beat diggers out there it's scrunched-face bobblehead time from the get. The requisite vinyl tribute is suitably sizzling (Raw Addict Pt.2), but each cut smacks unimaginative beatmakers silly with twisted drums (1994), loops to spare (Raw Deal) and awkward/awesome chops (Players of the Game). I said it before, and I'll say it again: Lib might not have the smoothest flow on the mic, but he comes with consistently clever lyrics and precise metaphors that suit his beats impeccably (Players has this to say about life in the music biz: Lose all your money or double up/fall off or bubble up/break a number one on the pop charts/or keep it real dropping sound like art (gotdam I'm broke)/goin' wood in the hood and getting Grammys/coming like Neptunes or Prince Jammy's). And did you see the video for Rappcats? It matches the tongue-twisting hip hop retrospective frame for frame. Frequent guests Melvin Van Peebles and Doom are both in the house, with the metal-faced fellow reprising a Madvillan cut over a new beat on Closer. The CD and vinyl versions have slightly different tracklists, taking advantage of the surplus of material 'Lib had in stock. Quas is just me fucking around, Madlib once told me. Let's hope he doesn't get serious anytime soon.
- music label: Stones Throw 2005
reviewed by monk 11/2005