Madlib – ‘Madlib Remixes 2: Saturday Morning Edition’
January 13, 2009 § Leave a comment
Published: The Vine, January 5, 2009.
Madlib Remixes 2: Saturday Morning Edition
(Le Smoke Disque/Creative Vibes)
It’s hard to relate to an artist as prolific and idiosyncratic as Madlib. His intense work ethic and singular, loping, funk-buried aesthetic are nothing short of extraordinary. Just a couple months after WLIB AM: King of the Wigflip – the latest in his Beat Konducta series – Madlib re-emerges with Saturday Morning Edition, a remarkably solid collection of remixes released though French imprint Le Smoke Disque.
It pushes all the right buttons. Madlib re-imagines a clutch of underground hip-hop classics from artists like Nas, AG, The Alkaholiks, MF Doom, Pete Rock and Wu-Tang’s Raekwon and Inspectah Deck. But more than anything, this compile takes us on a trip through Otis Jackson Jr’s musical lineage. Growing up with a father who was a celebrated session musician and bandleader for the likes of Tina Turner, Bobby Bland and Johnnie Taylor, Otis Jr and little brother Michael (aka OhNo) hail from from a pedigree of 70s and 80s soul, funk and jazz. It’s written all over Saturday Morning Edition.
The record comprises 27 cuts scored entirely by funk and disco samples from 1978 to 1983. And while the idea of blending the rugged, NY-styled gangsterisms of an AG or Raekwon with disco-ball dynamics may sound a little unlikely, Madlib pulls it off with ease. In two of the record’s finest moments, he pits Alkaholiks classic ‘Likwidation’ against a popping, synth-stabbed break and Jadakiss’s ‘Put Yr Hands Up’ against a dense, layered rhythm and swooning, brass hook. Elsewhere, Elite Terrorists’ ‘Waiting to Blow’ is twisted into an 80s electro funk beat and Tash’s ‘Rap Life’ melts into a buttery bass line and glittering top end, while Inspectah Deck’s ‘The Movement’ and ‘The Grind’, and Nas’s ‘Nasty N.’ burn over syrupy hooks.
The further it plays out, the more this record extends beyond a mere series of reworkings. Rather, it brims and bubbles with a sense of discovery. Early hip-hop may have been reactive to disco, but a generation later, Madlib eschews the split, searching out and joining the dots. In the process, he hints at a whole new range of dense, funk-heavy possibilities.
That’s not to say that this feels deconstructive. Madlib’s loose, easy, smoke-drowned signature is plastered all over Saturday Morning Edition. It feels right, like these verses and beats are meant to be. Madlib doesn’t even break a sweat.