Madlib's Madvillain project is the second of his dream matchups, following his slightly disappointing pairing last year with Detroit iconoclast Jay Dee (Jaylib's Champion Sound). While Jay Dee favors original compositions, track-busting Madlib finds more in common with MF Doom, since the latter's early-Nineties work with KMD as Zevlove X -- which tastily blended Five Percenter in-jokes with wacky skits and obscure soul-jazz samples -- exerted a strong influence on Madlib's production style.
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Speedy and effortless like the Lootpack's Soundpieces: Da Antidote!, Madvillainy's 22 tracks, most of which clock in at two minutes or less, bustle and bubble with sugary funk loops. Some of these songs are pure trash talk. On "America's Most Blunted," he shouts out to Lord Quas, "Who we nominated for the best to roll L's/And they wondered how he dealt with stress so well." Others indulge his patented formula for snarky narratives and knee-slapping punchlines. "Told ya, on some get rich shit/As he gets older he gets colder than a witch's tit," he rhymes on "Figaro" as he deftly slips into the third person.
Madvillainy has a fizzy charm and sounds like a fun romp. Concurrently, Madlib and MF Doom's sonic bum rush leaves little to remember but a flurry of well-honed musical techniques and hastily collated beats and rhymes. But the memory of its impact lingers long afterward.