April 23, 2019

Madvillain - Madvillainy 2 : The Madlib Remix (2008)

Country: U.S.A.
Genre: Hip-Hop
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© 2008 Stone Throw Records
Review by Nate Patrin for Pitchfork.com
Allegations of lip-syncing on-stage impostors, rumors of health problems, long-since-announced records that never arrive-- what the hell is going on with MF Doom? The villainous mystique routine is an integral part of his personality and all, but when an MC who used to drop great-to-classic albums yearly winds up mostly vanishing save some sporadic guest-spot duty, it's enough to make you nervous and probably a little frustrated. What little he's given us over the last year has been sharp; his verses on the Mighty Underdogs' "Gun Fight", J Dilla's "Mash's Revenge", and the "Strange Version" remix of Heliocentrics' "Distant Star" do more to belie his quasi-hiatus than justify or explain it-- assuming they're not raided from some circa-2004 vaults, anyway. But where's his Ghostface teamup Swift and Changeable? Where's the hinted-at KMD reunion?
And where's the Madvillainy sequel? Because this ain't it. Apparently Madlib got so impatient sitting around waiting for Doom to record some new verses for a followup to their classic 2004 collaboration that he just up and grafted a bunch of new beats to Doom's old verses. That's a risky idea: It's a thankless task to create a completely remixed version of an album that was already borderline-perfect. And no matter how hot the beats get on Madvillainy 2: the Madlib Remix, it's hard to sit back and let everything click into place, not when you've had more than four years to let the original etch itself into your brain.
"Accordion", for instance-- well, there's no accordion anymore, and it's been renamed "Borrowed Time". Its transformation into bass-rattling, Dilla-esque minimalism with a ghostly choir backdrop results in maybe the single best beat on the whole album, but with the tone altered so drastically it's hard to call it either an improvement or a letdown compared to the original. There are a couple identifiable letdowns, though: The lighthearted "Curls" has been mutated into the claustrophobic "Pearls" and, like a lot of the tracks, it takes forever for Doom's verse to actually start, the natural side effect of tacking on another minute's worth of music to 90 or so seconds' worth of lyrics. Part of the appeal of the original "Rainbows" was hearing Doom flatly, coolly harmonize with the woozy melody in Madlib's beat, and with that melody gone he sounds untethered and adrift in the straightforward boom-bap of "Drainos". And while the beats are up to Madlib's usual high standards, they're not quite as stylistically unified; going from the crackling sixties soul decay of "Fire in the Hole" to the upfront, fat-dude-walk horns of "Heat Niner" to "Monkey Suite"'s clean, Hi Records groove makes for good variety but fails to set a consistent mood.

tags: madvillian, madvillainy 2 the madlib remix, 2008, flac,

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