Whether via hip-hop backbeats or white neo-soulers like Jamie Lidell, the sound of classic R&B has been re-tooled, re-shaped and re-imagined more times than a creation myth. Few people are able to match the ingenuity and inspiration of their source material like storied DJ Madlib. Possessing both a powerful grasp of history as well as his own distinct musical personality, 'lib has proven expert at reconstituting classic grooves in a way that preserves the integrity of the original while being wholly unafraid to use it to create something entirely new.
One of those 'new creations 'is Madlib's collaboration with Dudley Perkins. On 2003s A Lil Light, 'lib created a series of supple slow jams that perfectly complemented Perkins 'hoarse, somewhat halting delivery. Though not exactly suave, Perkins is undeniably soulful — he lays down deep in the grooves, yammering and crooning like a sexed-up carnival barker. That trend continues on Expressions (2012 a.u.). Falling somewhere between Prince's "Camille" persona and Madlib's own Quasimoto project (but sans pitch-shifting), Perkins attacks the material with gusto, chewing through Madlib's sepia-toned set dressing with vigor and panache. "Funky Dudley" is the kind of track Sly Stone might write if he were fully-functional, Perkins 'chewed-up vocal battling for supremacy with a fierce, whomping bassline. "Testin 'Me" works a mellower, moodier groove, Perkins seeking relief from the Divine over hand-claps and bass-snaps. It may not sound like, say, Otis Blue, but the spirit is exactly the same.