Madvillain
Madvillainy


4.5
superb

Review

by Joe Schmoh USER (73 Reviews)
January 31st, 2010 | 32 replies


Release Date: 2004 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Too real for y'all?

Gangster rappers usually try to display themselves as the sickest villains. B.I.G. and Tupac painted images of ruthless enemies of societies, with slight hints of consciousness that truly makes them human, making their villainy all the more real. Their formula is imitable, and many of these workmen of the industry do imitate, but only the villainous, and not the thoughtful conscious nature that made these two men human. Their boasts are intangible; it’s hard to really feel any of it. Madvillain, a rap duo consisting of wordy MC MF Doom and at-the-time Peanut Butter Wolf protégé Madlib, rather than use this surreal gangster ruthlessness OR the blunt reality behind it, rely much more on the words and music to create a villainous work of art. Madvillainy is probably the realest display of a villain, but more of the sense of a superhero villain than a villain in the sense of human light, but MF Doom still manages to display some human features, and that’s one of the reasons why Madvillainy is one of my favorite records, and one of the most notable underground records released.

Madvillainy shows its true virtuosity in its structure. Rather than stretched over verses and five minute songs that would feel better as two minutes, Madlib as a producer cuts out all the fat, with the longest song barely running near four minutes, while the shortest barely closing in around a minute. Together, this record packs a lot of material into very little, making it a very broad experience without abusing the time of the listener. Wrapped in the structure, there are short instrumentals that fill in time as interludes, but don’t feel like absurd wastes of time. “Sickfit” utilizes a apocalyptic, ravenous keyboard loop, with thudding bass, militant drums, and little ‘wahs’ of synths bleeding into building sound. “Bistro” and “Rainbows” give smooth, jazzy backdrops for DOOM to do his non-rap thing, whether it is to introduce the album on the former, or to sloppily sing in a tone deaf, 50s way on the later. The Arabic waddle of “Do Not Fire!” and the sprawling theme song of “Supervillain” are the best of these interludes, allowing Madlib his chance to shine without DOOM’s meddling hands getting into the mix.

While Madlib does get his shine on these short snippet interludes and Lord Quas’ solo track, DOOM gets his work on over the course of the record. Before this, there was a certain one dimensionality about DOOM that I couldn’t get past. Operation Doomsday, as good as it was, sounded amateurish comparatively to his work here. DOOM starts the album at his best lyrical moment, on the minimalist “Accordian”, where he spits his absolute best verses over the song title (“Got more lyrics than the church got ‘Ooh Lords’/ and he hold the mic and your attention like two swords/ or even one with two blades on it/ Hey you! Don’t touch the mic like there’s aids on it.”). DOOM still carries his mush mouthed, intertwining delivery and tongue twisting lyrics, but the difference here is that he does it with the most heart he’s ever had. “Fancy Clown” is an inside battle between himself, the Villain vs. DOOM (“But have it your way, raw no foreplay/That's you if you want a dude who wear a mask all day”), and it’s odd how passionate he sounds. While technically proficient, DOOM, or better yet, the Madvillain has never sounded this good before, with the mixing of one of the most proficient flows in rap with a spice of reality and passion, it’s quite beautiful really.

As they always say, a great rapper is only defined by how good his beats are. While earlier DOOM had an assortment of great beats, these funk boogies and sample-fests were just like his rapping, proficient, but knowingly soulless. Madlib’s production throughout the record is cinematic, lo fi, and surreal. A lot of what Madlib does is simple minimalism that works perfectly. “Great Day” takes use of a wandering jazz piano line and runs with it, as DOOM raps over jazz perfection that would put Guru’s Jazzmatazz series to utter shame, while “Accordian” takes use of loud bass, popping drums, and, this one’s a shocker, an accordion. Along with this minimalism, Madlib creates wondrous soundscapes reminiscent of the first Lord Quas effort, but on weed instead of mushrooms. This is proved by the grooving, creamy bass often incorporated in the record, giving DOOM a slick rhythm section to bolster his rhymes over. The best beats, however, are where Madlib gets to show off his own props in his own crazy ways. “Money Folder” is characterized by sweet jazz interludes in-between thundering drums and whispering keys, “Shadows of Tomorrow” moves in consistent motion, creating dreamy vibes and feels like an interlude between the grooviness and instead creates a trippy, shroom-influenced environment. The album's best track; however, is the tambourine led darkness of “Figaro”, is one of the albums simplest tracks, and yet feels complicated in its timing.

Madlib and DOOM’s genius here is astounding, however, it isn’t unfaultable. There are moments where the filler gets overbearing, which is mostly on Madlib’s part. “Hardcore Hustle” is easily the albums worst track, using a warring horn track that would sound home on any other Madlib-produced album, while M.E.D. sounds just like your average weed carrier. “Eye” sounds hollow, with Stacy Epps echo-ing voice seeping into the track, creating what seems like an utter mess. “Operation Lifesaver”, however, is the fault of DOOM, who salivates all over a decent Madlib track, and breaks it up with slurry talk of women. These tracks, despite their faultiness, don’t really create much of a noticeable impression on the listener, and are truly forgettable and short, making them seem inconsequential to the listeners enjoyment of the record.

That’s why the forty six minutes of Madvillainy is some of the best rap music ever. Any filler that ever appears over the course of that time is easily forgettable, and even those are good in any other sense. From the beginning monologue in “The Illest Villains” to the ending monologue closing out the showman-like “Rhinestone Cowboy”, Madvillainy is the height of the career of two of hip hops greatest. After this record, both of these artists would be looked at in a completely different light than they were before. Madlib, years after this release, is considered one of the greatest producers out there, constantly relied on, and praised for almost every beat he pushes out there. MF DOOM, although fairly recently starting to falling off of his crown, reached new levels of popularity for an underground rapper, selling a decent amount of units and still writing humorously ridiculous rhymes. And the duo that created it? For years, we’ve been waiting for a sequel to this debut album. I guess it’s just too real to re-create in the studio.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
hydeyomoney
January 31st 2010


934 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

happy 50 to me!

i know i didn't beat Louis Arp's review but eh i love this album.

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
January 31st 2010


17920 Comments


second paragraph its

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
January 31st 2010


15035 Comments


probs a classic

hydeyomoney
January 31st 2010


934 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

thanks Chan.

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
January 31st 2010


15035 Comments


"The albums best track; however, is the tambourine led darkness of “Figaro”, is "

album needs apostrophe :D

hydeyomoney
January 31st 2010


934 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

:D okay man anything else really?

FistfulOfSteel
January 31st 2010


894 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

one of my alltime favourite albums. props. can't wait for their new stuff to be released, heard some tracks a while back and it sounds just as dope.

HenchmanOfSanta
January 31st 2010


1866 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Don't diss Operation Lifesaver. It rules.

HighandDriving
January 31st 2010


3288 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Neg'd.

cirq
January 31st 2010


9264 Comments


rhinestone cowboy is cool.

hydeyomoney
January 31st 2010


934 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Neg'd.


cool story bro

somberlain
January 31st 2010


2121 Comments


great review, sounds like it's about time I check this out eh?

hydeyomoney
January 31st 2010


934 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

oh yeah

iisblackstar
January 31st 2010


431 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

You write great intros mate, always keep me interested. A little long for my liking, which is understandable though for such an awesome album.
Im surprised you havent got RSI from the rate that your cranking them out atm.

Tits McGee
February 1st 2010


1876 Comments


album rules too much

Wish
February 1st 2010


262 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Meh album.

Bulldog
February 1st 2010


3796 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

ummm? ^^^

Wish
February 2nd 2010


262 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

The beats are brilliant I'll give you that, it's just that DOOM isn't. Am I missing something? I honestly don't know why you guys think so highly of him; he really isn't anything special.

plane
Staff Reviewer
February 2nd 2010


6094 Comments


I really didn't like him on any release I had heard prior to this album, but Madlib finally catches the right kind of malevolent, campy grit to offset DOOM's flat, gruff tone. The music fills in the area where DOOM isn't taking front and center, which is how I believe it should be, and instead we get a thoughtful and intelligently goofy lyrical match for the production.

Jim
February 2nd 2010


5110 Comments


i've been meaning to get this since it came out

oh dear



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