Madvillain- Madvillainy


Set 13 2007, 2h03

Madvillain- Madvillainy

Madvillainy is a beast of an album. It is one of the most cohesive and consistently engrossing hip hop releases I’ve heard. For those who aren’t already in the know, it’s the brainchild of the emcee MF DOOM and producer Madlib. These two forces combined to create, what is in my opinion, a rap album that stands on the highest of hip hop tiers only in the company of a small collection of other releases: among them, De La Soul Is Dead, Ready to Die, and Liquid Swords.

It has the sense of being not an album, but an experience, which is so important to define the difference between a great album and a masterpiece. It begins with the atypically interesting (and somewhat humorous) obscure samples that occupy so many of Doom’s other releases, of which there are many.

Daniel Dumile is most recognized today as MF Doom, but he began as Zev Love X in the group KMD. He has gone on to record under King Geedorah, a Godzilla monster, Viktor Vaughn, named after a Fantastic Four villain, and releases his instrumental work, the Special Herbs series, under Metal Fingers. Each alias has a distinct style and feel, all of which are employed on Madvillainy, and to great effect. Madlib also appears in his rapping incarnation, Quasimoto. Apparently his natural voice is very deep, prompting his friends to call him Barry White. To remedy this he altered the pitch of his voice to create the distinctive tone of Quas.

The album is already firing on all cylinders by the time it stops in the fourth track to introduce itself. The songs are all relatively short, especially for modern rap which tends to take the, “Just throw it all in!” approach. These songs are refined to their essence and many tracks make many complex shifts becoming different songs altogether within the small amount of time they play. I don’t think there’s a single chorus to be found. It delivers the goods and moves on.

Many a good rap album is only just that because superfluous skits and inane banter bog it down. While there are the seeds of skits they are only used as transition and add to the experience. There are also three outright instrumentals, all of which are superb.

The other thing that makes lots of hip hop blend together for me is content. How many songs, even entire albums, have you heard devoted to getting high and macking on women? Too many to count. There is one song devoted to weed, but that’s it, and it’s fun. There is no rampant misogyny on this album. Doom even stops himself from using the word bitches at one point. His references range from Freud to Ishmael to what appears to be Alfred Jarry’s pioneering surrealist play Ubu Roi. He employs many complex rhythms and does some serious vowel rhyming in the midst of even his simplest verses. He also seems to be able to rap at pretty much every speed, which is something you don’t see that often. Many emcees find a niche and hold onto it for dear life. Gang Starr, anyone?

The track Fancy Clown, which has one of the coolest beats on the whole album, sets off a four song chain of ridiculous goodness, leading into the intriguing Eye (feat. Stacy Epps) and the instrumental Supervillain Theme, which inspired me to create the tag just for that song and Walk on By by Isaac Hayes, and it all culminates in All Caps. Really though, there are so many stand out tracks that just letting it play all the way through is extremely fulfilling and rewarding.

I don’t have extreme insight into it, it’s just damn good, and I can’t stress that fact enough. If anything, maybe this journal will get a person or two to check it out, which is worth it. It didn’t click for me straight away, so give it time and let it reveal itself to you upon further listening if you’ve dismissed it as just okay in the past.

This album didn’t make me believe in hip hop as an art form, I already did, it simply is the best example I can think of.


  • J_HAN

    yea yea fine... but seriously take it easy with the Thesaurus. Good journal though, i think you should write more often even if it's not about your favroite album.

    Set 13 2007, 16h11
  • RobotMcGee

    i told you it was good.

    Set 13 2007, 17h27
  • munk77436

    Haha, you can thank no thesaurus for any excessive verbiage I may have just spewed. Dats from da noggin. Thanks, though, I think I am going to start writing more. It only occurs to me to do it when I love something so much that I want to spread the word. And yes, Sean, you were right. Tis damn good.

    Set 13 2007, 20h57
  • J_HAN

    I can understand your motives for writing about good music but your really good at it and maby you'll be good at writing about bad music too. Wow thats some nuts vocab man... that shit is just to dam legit to quit i guess. Keep it up. Love, Yohan P.S. Hey maby you will wear out the Villain and you can write about how it turned on you that would be a one of a kind.

    Set 13 2007, 22h41
  • fluoxetine20mg

    took me several listens to really get into this record but then i listened to it constantly

    Set 16 2007, 10h44
  • senorwoohoo

    One of the best hip hop albums ever.

    Set 17 2007, 14h27
  • -GS-

    yeah it took me a year to get into this album. I really do love it though, probably in my top ten.

    Set 22 2007, 0h18
  • munk77436

    Are you saying as a collaboration? He's put out a shitload of solo stuff, under many monikers..

    Nov 25 2007, 6h29
  • rigoisphat

    now this is a review that does this masterpiece justice. well done.

    Jul 9 2008, 22h06
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