Let’s face it. Madlib (who also records under such monikers as Sound Directions, Quasimoto, Yesterday’s New Quintet, DJ Rels) is probably more productive in a month than most of us are in an entire lifetime. But it’s not at the expense of quality. This compilation — Vol. 1 was released on vinyl last year and Vol. 2 was released concurrently with this collection — is the kind of record deejays have wet dreams about.
The album, a soundtrack to an imaginary movie, plays out as if all of all of Madlib’s alter-egos starred in the film. The funky, percussive, chilled-out groove “Pyramids” channels Yesterday’s New Quintet; the unyielding stomp of “The Rock” is Quasimoto-inclined. It’s even rumored that some of the tracks here will find their way onto the next Madvillian (Madlib’s project with MF Doom) album.
In contemporary hip-hop, many tracks can seem overproduced, sacrificing the rawness and making it hard to truly feel the beat. But Movie Scenes is full of beats that bump through your soul rather than in one ear and out the other. From his idiosyncratic, inimitable soul samples (think Sam Cooke and Diana Ross) to borrowing vocal snippets from his contemporaries, Madlib is no stranger to the sample. Layered with digital production of rasping bass loops over thirty-five tracks — none much longer than two minutes — this is unmistakably the work of Otis Jackson Jr.
Movie Scenes is further proof that Madlib is the Miles Davis of hip-hop: He’s always finding a way to set the bar just a little bit higher.