Just as I have started doing over in Odessa, here in Tucson I’m going to kick the blog off by explaining my five favourite recording artists of all time. There are no limits of genre or group/solo discrimination, just who I like the most. Without further ado, #5 on my list, Madvillain.
Madvillain is a two-piece hip-hop group formed of MC/producers MF DOOM (a.k.a. Viktor Vaughn, King Gheedorah and about a thousand other aliases) and Madlib (a.k.a. Quasimoto and a few more aliases). They’re a unique instance in my top five list because not only are they the only hip-hop group on it, but they’ve also to date only released one album, 2004’s Madvillainy (2006’s Madvillainy 2 is a remix of Madvillainy). However, Madvillainy is such a strong record that it merits their place on this list.
As a duo they’re more enigmatic than almost all rap artists – MF DOOM wears a metal mask at all times in public to keep his face anonymous and Madlib stays behind the scenes with a myriad of other names, keeping everyone off-balance. However mysterious these two guys are, they work incredibly well as a duo, and Madvillainy is the best rap or hip-hop record I’ve yet heard.
They aren’t your stereotypical MCs, they don’t rap about gats, whips or ho’s (guns, cars and women to the uninitiated) and offer genuinely funny and interesting hooks to grab you with, actually satirising other rappers’ styles and taking the piss out of those who would rather tell you how much paper dey grabbin (money they have) than have something interesting to say. They’ll swap out words you’re expecting – “Spit so many verses sometimes my jaw twitches, one thing this party could use is more….booze” – and make pop culture references galore in their lines so it bears better repeated listenings than a lot of rap albums where they just seem to want to get to the sampled chorus and fill the verses in with whatever they think of first.
Sampling itself is another thing that makes this album fresh, as the pair sample in and out of all their tracks, using old radio programmes about a villain appropriately called ‘Doom’ and letting the songs flow into one another most of the time. They ignore the usual use of old soul tracks and actually go for a completely different sound to most hip-hop artists, eschewing catchy choruses for overall quality. The longest song on the album is only 4 minutes, but each song gets better with every listen, from drug anthem ‘America’s Most Blunted’ to the somewhat psychedelic ‘Eye’.
Overall this album is so original it’s a joy to listen to, showing what two really talented hip-hop artists can do when they get together and put some effort in. I’ve probably listened to this album 50 times but I’m never sick of it, and is still the most creative, cleverest, riskiest and best rap album of the last 10 years. Awesome.
Sickest tracks: Accordion, Meat Grinder, ALL CAPS, Rhinestone Cowboy.
If you like this, you’ll also like: MF DOOM – MM…FOOD and Operation: Doomsday, Dangerdoom – The Mouse and the Mask, The Roots – Game Theory.