I wouldn’t be surprised if Otis Jackson Jr. has a sizeable physical library of thousands of bookshelves filled with thousands of crudely recorded tapes of the best hip-hop you’ll find anywhere. Jackson, or as he’s more popularly known, Madlib, seems to just bleed beats; his brilliant production has spawned druggy concept albums (his work under the alias Quasimoto), jazzy remix albums, and instrumental hip-hop epics. His Beat Konducta collections fit cleanly into that last classification, and his first two volumes, which were packaged together and released in 2006 with a Movie Scenes
subtitle, might be the best thing he’s ever done while not being under some crazy alias or collaborating with MF Doom.
Beat Konducta Vol. 1-2: Movie Scenes
is a mind-warping collection of ridiculously obscure samples and many different genres of music spliced together perfectly, with hints of jazz, house, rock, and soul all cracking the collection’s hip-hop façade. This diversity keeps every one of these thirty-five tracks interesting and fresh; you’ll be hard-pressed to find a dull spot on this album. Think of this as a funkier, blacker, and less boring Soundtrack of a Vacant Life
. But, despite the wide-ranging sound of this collection, Madlib is smart enough to keep the songs from delving into randomness and keeps this sounding like a complete body of work. Sure, tracks like the ominous, druggy duo of “Electric Company” and “Left on Silverlake”, the latter of which is easily the best thing on the album, are pretty far removed from the soulful, warm, and positive opener “The Comeback”. Despite these differences, there’s still the same minimalist, heavily retro feel of both these tracks, and the entire album keeps with this pattern. Even the dark electro-hop of “Box Top” feels oddly nostalgic.
Despite all the different genres and sampling and whatever, you can tell that Madlib was trying to create more than just another beat collection; this is subtitled “Movie Scenes” for a reason. This album is very cinematic, dipping and climaxing from happy-go-lucky R&B like “Friends” to darker, funkier, seedier tracks such as “Toe Fat”. Madlib’s first two volumes of his expansive and excellent Beat Konducta series aren’t met to score just any movie: it’s meant to score his own movie, his own life. If the man’s anywhere near as genius as the album, then this is definitely the perfect score.