Impresario Madlib has adopted a new alter ego and created a new genre. In the UK, they call it "breakbeat." In the U.S., we use the term "broken soul."
Although some may view Madlib's transition into DJ Rels as a radical change, Theme For a Broken Soul isn't too much of a departure from his "hip-hop" past. The beats may be more fractured, but all of the Madlib hallmarks are still here: layered sounds, propulsive drums, a selective use of samples, and a keen ability to graft drum machines onto improvised keyboard jams. What it all comes down to, really, is genre smearing, not genre change.
While a few others have toyed with the idea of bridging the gaps between hip-hop, Afrobeat, Afro-Cuban and the futuristic jungle music of Sextant-era Herbie Hancock, Madlib charges ahead with all cylinders blasting. The only other muse operating from a similar zone is Allen. Of course the big difference between the two is that Madlib/Rels does it all himself. Such an approach is the source of his unique magic. No matter what he does, he always sounds like a band instead of a dude messing around in his basement. Broken soul? Indeed.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Miami, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.