Champion Sound



by pulseczar USER (67 Reviews)
April 17th, 2007 | 21 replies

Release Date: 2003 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The sound of two champion producers is wackier than expected...!

In the hip hop world, artists love combining their aliases like kids love combining legos. This time it’s Jaylib, featuring Jay-Z and Talib Kweli. Or was that J Dilla/Jay Dee and Madlib? Yeah, that sounds right. No strangers to consummating collaborations on record, producer and occasional MC Madlib is perhaps best known outside of his solo work for teaming up with MF DOOM as Madvillain, and both producers are known for creating tracks with nearly anyone willing to incorporate their signature sought after styles.

Jaylib first came to be when Madlib came across a mix of Dilla’s beats in 2000, rapped over them, eventually making its way over to Jay. But even after both became aware of the buzz of the partnering, they recorded the entire album Champion Sound without being in the same studio, let alone city (a la The Postal Service for those of you familiar with bad music.) Though Jay Dee passed away in 2006, his massive collection of beats continue to make waves in the hip hop world, and Champion Sound is one example of when these two innovative beat makers are let loose in the studio.

Upon a first glance, Madlib’s love of jazz and J Dilla’s soul flavouring should make for a smooth, easy grooving listen. Think again. In reality, Madlib’s jazz influence creates raw, rhythmic beats and dissonant layering, making Dilla’s more streamlined sound a unique contrast. Whereas Madlib’s work on Madvillainy meant a uniform sound of odd old school beats, here the combination of the two without touching each other’s beat makes a much more ragged listen. That may sound like trouble, but the very mayhem that they play off of makes the album’s uniquely choppy atmosphere. The single The Red has the most instantly accessible beat, featuring a female vocal sample and fuzzy bassline to soulfully carry the song, automatically recognizable as a Dilla instrumental, and is one of the few beats on here that “plays it safe” and stays relatively conventional compared to most of the other songs.

But where the beats stay conservative, the rapping stays bizarre. Primarily being producers, Jaylib’s rapping skills are unrefined and awkward, adding to the jolted feel of Champion Sound. Madlib is unanimously the better MC, though having an incoherent stop-start flow, his rambling lyrics sometimes work surprisingly well with the song. His alter-ego Quasimoto also “appears” a few times, which is just Lib with a high pitched voice, sometimes switching between the two voices rapidly in the same song, putting a trippy spin on the term “pass the mic.” Strip Club features the two personas venturing into a strip club to a slick flute driven Dilla beat, telling a disjointed story of a booty call night, eventually ending with Quas realizing something strange about the stripper: “oh shit that’s my nigga’s wife!” and inexplicably, “yo open the door... oh wait it’s open.”

While Madlib’s mic skills can be considered an acquired taste, Jay Dee simply doesn’t deliver. He sort of just babbles mildly to the beat, and doesn’t ever say anything to be taken seriously, but of course the songs still end up listenable because of the masterful production. The guest rappers help out the vocally challenged duo and up the anti quite a lot, with Guilty Simpson delivering the best rhymes on the album over what sounds like a G-Unit beat on crystal meth. Surprisingly, Talib Kweli’s appearance on the album is as dull as Dilla’s rapping, leaving the lesser known rappers to make up for it.

Though Champion Sound is literally all over the place, the twosome’s love of crate digging and obscure instrumentation keeps the album together. The chemistry the songs have with each other, and the chemistry inside each song truly showcases the boys’ talents for amalgamating, sometimes making a smooth beat out of an unlikely layering (the Indian instrumentation on Survival Test, the bouncy horns on Pillz, the playful basslines all over the album,) and sometimes literally disorienting the listener with out of sync arrangements and scratching the hell out of a record. Champion Sound challenges its flow a lot, and it actually does hiccup and stop completely, such as Heavy’s minimal uphill flow which feels too out of place with the upbeat, richly textured beats on the rest of the record. The random snippets of unrelated J Dilla beats at the end of many of the songs sometime feel like silky intermissions for the songs, or just make me wish they were longer.

One skit on the album advertising “Marijuana Helper” (just add it in when there isn’t enough ganja to go around!) cements what we were all thinking – Jaylib were baked as hell making this album. And while one doesn’t need a fat blunt to enjoy this album, both producers have made better, well-rounded albums, making this feel disappointing, especially when it’s realized they’re no Rakim on the mic. If anything, the instrumental version of the album would be a better listen, or to start with if one is new to the two beat monkeys. Either way, Champion Sound gives everyone a quirky angle to view the two underground favourites.

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Comments:Add a Comment 
The Jungler
April 17th 2007


(a la The Postal Service for those of you familiar with bad music.)

Good review, extremely knowledgeable too. The Jaylib track on Chrome Children was cool, so I might go looking for one of their records. Or I might just get a Dilla CD, I don't know yet.

Two-Headed Boy
April 18th 2007


Awesome work, pulseface. Sounds like something good, but I'm not going to lie and say "maybe I'll check this out" because deep down I'm fully sure that I won't.

April 18th 2007


Album Rating: 3.5

why must you hurt me with yours truths? :'(

April 18th 2007


Album Rating: 3.5

Great review/album. Pillz is probably my favourite on here. The track with Percee P is pretty sweet too.

Liberi Fatali
April 23rd 2007


This is a really good review, one of those that you just find yourself nodding and agreeing with every step of the way.

And also thanks for expanding my music collection to include this, even if it could have been better.This Message Edited On 04.22.07

October 22nd 2008


Album Rating: 4.0

Very nice review.

January 27th 2009


Album Rating: 4.0

I actually think the Dilla instrumentals that are at the end of some of the songs are probably the rawest beats on the album, too bad there only like 10 seconds.

Well written though...

September 21st 2010


Album Rating: 4.0

madlib rapping over dilla beats is just awesome, nowadayz is so raw

January 5th 2011


This is really good. Would probably be a lot more popular on this site if people knew about it.

October 17th 2012


Album Rating: 4.5

This is great.

March 16th 2014


Album Rating: 4.0

Masterful production, but the lack of true MC skills is too apparent in this album to give it a better rating. Which is a shame, with such musical virtuosos at the helm of this project. Oh well, at least it happened..

July 11th 2014


this one is hot and sizzlin

Digging: Trha - Endlhtong

January 24th 2016


Album Rating: 4.0

Haven't listened to this one in years. Ugh.

February 7th 2016


Album Rating: 4.0

The beat for Starz gets me hard. True fact.

February 26th 2016


Album Rating: 4.0

Such a chill album.

August 12th 2016


Album Rating: 4.0

dope shit

April 30th 2018


Album Rating: 4.0

i was unaware this even existed and i gotta say its pretty damn good. If only they were better at MC'ing

Digging: Paramore - After Laughter

April 30th 2018


Album Rating: 3.0

it is surprising it doesn't have more ratings but not madlibs best imo. React is great.

April 30th 2018


Album Rating: 4.0

not even close to the best either one put out, still, its pretty darn good.

April 30th 2018


Album Rating: 3.0

agreed, I'm a madlib fan but not a J Dilla fan (makes no sense I know) so I'm conflicted on this

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