Stoned Immaculate (4 stars)
, January 2, 2009
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This is my first outing with Quasimoto. After hearing the Madvillain album, I was totally enthralled by Madlib's unique and original production. I was also interested in Quasimoto's helium-voiced banter, and how it would hold up through a full length album. The results are definitely not what I expected; as it pushes the envelope much further than the "Madvillainy" album. The 26 tracks actually translate to nearly 60 grooves, skits, songs and interludes. Which means if you like or dislike a part, it will most likely pass within the same track. But there is an underlying theme to the whole album, and most of them are observatory under the influence of marijuana, among other things (see cut 19, "Shroom Music"). It's a parody of urban street life. Quasimoto appears to be a street-smart kid, spouting off his perspective on several things. Good examples of this would be "Bullyshi*", where he deals with bullies, or "Greenery" where he smokes and buys weed, or "Bus Ride" where he deals with a crazy cracked out panhandler. Some of this stuff is so crazy, it would seem that the Anticon label would be distributing this stuff. Where artists like Dose One and Pedestrian seem excentric and forcefully unusual, Quasimoto and Madlib hold stronger to their hip-hop roots. Not to say that it's all hip-hop; as several quirks of jazz, soul, funk and easy listening have been thrown into the mix. Make no mistake about it, this album is as pro-weed as any Cypress Hill record, and is probably most enjoyable over a packed bowl. But where the music brought forth by Cypress Hill was very lazy, sticky and stoned itself, Madlib shines new light on the same message. His music does sound stoned, but in a much dirtier, complex multi-element sort of way. Take "Players of the Game" for instance (one of my favorites); water splashes, zipper sounds, crazy tweaked out bells, soft soulful background vocals, and beat juggling turntable action. Tracks like that are just candy for the ears.
Although I very much enjoyed the adventures that take place throughout the album, I'd be lying if I said that it wasn't an exhausting listen. It's not easy to digest whatsoever. There are times where you just start to settle into a groove, and then poof, it's gone. But that's something I, and many fans of Madlib have come to accept (and expect). This is definitely on the cutting edge of hip-hop; musically, lyrically, and thematically. I would like to say that the balance of weird quirky elements and accessibility is perfect, but it's not really, thus the four star rating. I've listened to the album about 6 times, and it's still growing on me.
Madlib lives in the studio; that's obvious. Getting blazed and making music is his thing, and he does it very well. Music like this can be compared to Ween's "The Pod" (where they locked themselves cabin, inhaled lots of scotchguard, and made an album on an eight-track). It's an adventure in inspiration brought forth while under the influence of drugs. I know that seems harsh, but it's not something you hear everyday (at least this extreme). Madlib is on the forefront of futuristic production in hip-hop, and he's proven himself time and time again. Madlib is the epitome of originality. And originality is hard to grasp sometimes. So be patient with this baby.