Seb Chan sent me this album to review with a note: â€œyou will dig thisâ€¦â€ He was right. But, bopping away, I couldn’ help but think that the fact that he was right was interesting. It’s not about Seb, insightful though he is; it’s about Madlib fans. Madlib fans (and I can say this because I’m one of them) are simple: we like Madlib. We are often an uncritical bunch. The five word conversation will begin with a furrowed brow and uniformly conclude: â€œWho produced this?â€ â€œMadlib.â€ â€œAwesome.â€
‘Lib is the antithesis of the Dr Dre style hermit who only emerges when something is perfect. Our hero likes to makes music and share it with us. The scattergun approach is one of the reasons it’s easy to be a fan: with so much to choose from, there are always new surprises, and there’ always a loose end to go and follow up.
So, we find ourselves here: listening to Madlib’s fifth release for 2010 (!) He’ plans to put twelve out this year (!) It’s enough to make the mind boggle. With his Beat Konductas and his Sound Directions and his Stones Throw compilations, he’ always been productive but twelve album length releases in a year is changing the game. These days, his catalogue less like a record collection and more like a podcast or a radio show.
That said, there’ a romance to burning bright, quick, and often. It’s been captured on History of the Loop Digga, an instrumental trip back in time. We’ve never heard Madlib this raw, and he’ never sounded this reflective. Some of these beats sound their age, and it’s a joy. Some of them sound contemporary; that’s perhaps more thrilling. This flashback is exquisite but – then again, and as Seb will tell you – I was always going to say that, wasn’ I?