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 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Madvillain
Madvillainy
Stones Throw Records

Rating: 10/10 ?


October 1, 2004
MF Doom has been on the tips of everyone's lips for the past year or so, wetting many a palate with anticipation of new projects and alter egos. The background is wide and varied and doesn't need to be explored here with any particular depth; you can do that yourself by a simple Google search. But here's the quick rundown: KMD (Subroc and Zev Love X) begets MF Doom (RIP Subroc), after several years hiding out in his underground lair. Thus begins the era of Doom, et al: King Geedora, Viktor Vaughan, etc. Mr. Dumile hooks up with Madlib (Quasimoto, Otis Jackson Jr., Yesterday's New Quintet, etc.) in 2004 and the two commence on a journey to create not only the best hip-hop record of the past five years, but one of the best records ever, period. Rap music is always valuable as a snapshot, a flitting metaphor of a feeling and a reality, but hip-hop like this makes beats and rhymes count on both an emotional and head-nodding level. Doom and Madlib both understand the nerd and the backpacker and have fused the two into a ridiculously dope villain.

From the opening accordion tones of "Accordion" (symmetry for you), Madvillainy has vaulted over the highest bars of hip-hop. Most of Madlib's beats here sound crunchy and slightly muffled, like they were tapped out and sampled on an SP 1200 in some hotel room. In fact, some were birthed in that very manner, while he was on vacation in Brazil. There isn't a single miss; every beat manages to innovate with the incredibly inventive usage of uncommon sounds over straight boom-bap beats. In keeping with the theme of the character, campy science fiction samples are spliced throughout the record as well, enhancing and acting as a counter balance to the riddims and roll. The soul sample of "Fancy Clown" is a skin-crawling moment as it blasts off from the opening phrase into a certified banger, Doom in full Viktor Vaughan garb. Madlib knows just how to complement Doom's mixture of humor, sadness, esoteric behavior, and metaphor. He is the underground Neptunes with soul and a creative mind that soars above the rest.

And then there are the lyrics. Doom sounds guttural and grimy here, like his throat has been the recipient of one too many blunts and his eyes have seen one too many failure. No matter, Doom is in top form. On "America's Most Blunted" - the best weed song since Cypress Hill's "I Want to Get High" - he opines, "Some day pray that he will grow a farm barn full/Recent research shows it not so darn harmful." "Rhinestone Cowboy" finds MF blending the nonsensical with the pithy: "Watch the droptop pop, known as the grimy, limey, timely, try me, blimey" or "Curses, he's truly the worsest/With enough rhymes to spread throughout the boundless universes." There is a melancholy and a sense of self-deprecation in many of Doom's rhymes, even as he toys with braggadocio and verbal assaults - "Do not touch mike, be careful!" Many of the songs clock in around the two-minute mark, a remarkable feat for a hip-hop record, and most don't really have a chorus of any sort. The song title is usually based on a lyric that Doom grunts out at some point in the verse. This structure is very uncommon in modern rap music but is a welcome respite from the 70-plus minute record with maybe three songs that are worth listening to more than once.

Madvillainy is a sublime moment in hip-hop history. It feels like a changing point, the beginning of a movement. I'd bet all the pennies in my jar that it's not, though, and this is probably a good thing. Its singularity increases its value and the fact that a repeat would be difficult and probably a mistaken attempt makes one feel just how dope this record is all the more. Contender for top album of the year, the young millennium, the past 10 years, this is a collaboration for the ages.

Reviewed by Jonah Flicker
Jonah Flicker writes, lives, drinks, eats, and consumes music in New York, via Los Angeles. He once received a fortune in a fortune cookie that stated the following: "Soon, a visitor shall delight you." He's still waiting.

See other reviews by Jonah Flicker

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