It’s too bad Madvillainy came out so quickly after Jaylib’s Champion Sound. The spotlight created by MF Doom with Madlib simply pushed Jay Dee’s collaboration with Madlib into the dark. But Champion Sounds features a synthesis of production heavyweights who split the responsibility of beats and lyrics on each track, and it deserved more credit than it got.
Madlib (of Lootpack, Yesterday’s New Quintent, Quasimoto) says he’s “just trying to create new compositions” on “Raw Shit,” and he’s doing just that. He has transformed underground hip-hop with Quasimoto and other voices into a ward of encouraged and socially accepted schizophrenia. His lyrics aren’t spectacular, but their innocence and quirky delivery are reminiscent of your first exciting high-school hookup.
The production on this album, however, is real. Champion Sound is a collection of beats that are simple jazz samples, absent of that choppy computer sound that has become standard on the radio. Madlib’s beats are particularly good, but “The Red,” produced by J Dilla, transcends this one album. Jay Dee, a founding member of Slum Village, is regarded as one of the hip-hop greats and has done the production of some of rap’s classics, cutting tracks for A Tribe Called Quest, Q Tip, D’Angelo, and Common, among others. Like “Strip Club” and “Starz,” Dilla employs soulful sounds that aren’t so hard-hitting, but you get the feeling that even Madlib had found his match in “The Red.”
Madlib, with and without Champion Sound, has been great for hip-hop, and juxtaposes nicely with intense lyricists such as Aesop Rock and J-Live. Like the Madvillain craze that struck when that album dropped in 2004, Champion Sound romanticizes hip-hop without making the lyrics serious and groundbreaking. Jaylib won’t be on the radio, and certainly not in the club. But if you’re a fan of sitting your ass in a chair and just listening, this is it. The hip-hop audience has to appreciate the “Madlib invasion” of the past five years and his workaholic nature as an art in itself.
Note: Listen to DJ J Rocc mix up this album and his own stuff in J Rocc vs. Jaylib.