It’s somewhat fitting that following the release this year of Our Vinyl Weighs A Ton, the excellent documentary about seminal LA label Stones Throw, one of that label’s favorite sons has returned with a reminder of his talents.
The rise of Madlib is synonymous with that of Stones Throw. One of the first artists to join the label, he was signed by Peanut Butter Wolf as part of the Lootpack back in the late-nineties, and so began a partnership that has yielded spectacular results.
Madlib’s has been a career of remarkable consistency, creativity, and variety. He has been a major player in a whole slew of classic underground releases and made album-length collaborations with MF Doom and J Dilla that somehow lived up to their ridiculous hype (Madvillain’s Madvillainy and Jaylb’s Champion Sound). He also created a whole other career as a pitch-shifted alter ego rapper called Quasimoto and even released the remix album Shades of Blue on the legendary Blue Note Records after producing his own jazz-influenced recordings with Yesterdays New Quintet.
Now Madlib has returned (has he ever really been away?) in his initial incarnation as producer in another album-length collaboration, this time with Indiana rapper Freddie Gibbs. The result in one of the year’s finest albums so far, the excellent Piñata. It is a visceral reminder of Madlib’s talents and yet another example of his ability to tailor his fluid palate to match up with the rapper he is working with. It also makes this an appropriate time to celebrate a man who remains a key player in the Los Angeles hip-hop scene and one of the city’s most important producers.
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