Madlib, The Beat Konducta Vol. 3 & 4: In India

Tim Noakes

By Tim Noakes

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Five months after Oh No dropped the Turkish, Lebanese and Greek sample-packed beat odyssey, Dr. No's Oxperiment, his older brother, LA-based hip-hop maverick Madlib, plundered Indian pop and Bollywood soundtracks to produce Beat Konducta Vol. 3 & 4: In India.

If you thought Bollywood samples were passé, think again…

Bollywood and Indian pop are unlikely sound sources in 2007 for someone regarded as a visionary — after all, Missy and Timbaland got freaky with their tablas back in 2001; Dr. Dre got sued for illegally using Lata Mangeshkar's "Thoda Resham Lagta Hai" on Truth Hurts '”So Addictive” in 2002; and in 2003 Jay-Z hooked up with Punjabi MC for “Mundian to Bach Ke." With all these hip-hop icons digging in the Desi crates, sampling a wailing Bollywood thrush today has become a production faux pas akin to speeding up an old Chaka Khan record.

But, per usual, Madlib has gone the extra mile (8,706 of them, to be exact) by actually travelling to Mumbai and digging up records full of soaring orchestras, dhal drums and high-pitched, love-torn vocals.

Originally conceived as the soundtrack to an imaginary movie (like last year's Beat Konducta Vol. 1 & 2: Movie Scenes), the 34 songs create an all-consuming atmosphere, shifting from the glamorous (“More Rice”) and the sinister (“The Rip Off” and “Organ Stroll”), to the downright insane (“Accordion for Raj”). The harpsichord-led “Movie Finale” sounds like the type of beat DJ Premier or Buckwild would have died to produce for D.I.T.C in the mid '90s, whilst the tribal rhythms of “Freeze” and “The Rumble” could have easily made it onto M.I.A's recent Kala.

With most tracks clocking in at under two minutes, there's little time to get bored and, like J Dilla's work on Donuts, Madlib's use of samples isn't impressive because of how he's cut and spliced them together, but because of the unexpected vocal punches he throws into the mix (check out “Another Getaway”) — a technique he first showcased with Melvin Van Peebles samples on Quasimoto's 2001 “Come On Feet."

An accomplished instrumental journey, Beat Konducta Vol. 3 & 4: In India will appeal to fans of the recent Bombay Connection series, further ingratiate Madlib to his global legion of fan boys and, most importantly, surprise all the critics who thought that all the decent Indian sample sources had run as dry as a plate of overcooked chicken tikka.