Madvillain, Madvillainy

Thomas Bartlett

By Thomas Bartlett

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
Two indie rap heavy hitters team up to drop a bugged-out insta-classic.

The highly anticipated collaboration between two of independent hip-hop's finest, Madlib and MF Doom, Madvillainy received rave reviews upon its release and, hindsight being 20/20, they were pretty much right. Stitching together a patchwork of vintage soul, jazz, movie music and who knows what else, Madlib constructs a musical fabric that wraps beautifully around the enigmatic Doom's lazy monotone. Peppered with references to the joys of marijuana (“Spliff made him swore he saw heaven when he was seven”) and boasts of his own surpassing villainy (“Let he who is without sin cast the first stone/ After you who's last, it's Doom, he's the worst known”), Doom's words are often too oblique to make sense of. He strings together barely-connected phrases of half-sense, near-sense and nonsense with a kind of playfulness and joy in the sheer musical possibilities of language that recalls John Ashbery. The cumulative effect is mesmerizing and a little dreamlike, creating a different kind of logic, one with its own particular lucidity — as when Doom, rapping over a beautiful accordion loop played by the electronic music artist Daedelus, casually comes out with: “Slip like Freudian/ Your first and last step to playin'yourself like accordion.”