Madlib’s rise in underground hip-hop from the 2000 release of his debut as Quasimoto, The Unseen, to his high-pitched alter-ego’s sophomore album, The Further Adventures of Lord Quas, is an amazing success story. Heralded not so much for his innovation (Premier would be on a short list of influences) as he is for his consistency despite being almost super-humanly prolific, the producer’s work has been nearly uniformly noteworthy. This album is a continuation of the sound that made The Unseen so enjoyable.
Rarely has a person’s enjoyment of the first leaked song been so indicative of whether or not they will enjoy the entire record. “Bus Ride” pulls together sound bites from Melvin Van Peebles (who is featured on a number of tracks), a crazy stop-start jazz beat and an altered vocal performance from Madlib that gives the track more of a skit-like structure than anything resembling a recognizable hip-hop song. The song rises and falls with an unknown rhythm, causing unexpected bumps in the road. It’s a playful track that’s overflowing with ideas, reminiscent of Danger Mouse’s much more polished (for better or worse) work on the Gorillaz’ Demon Days. But for some people it will feel disjointed and awkward (like the Gorillaz’ album does) as if there were a good song somewhere in there that Madlib didn’t take the time to develop.
The rest of the album unfolds in similar fashion. Brimming with the enthusiasm of a true lover of music — jazz, in particular — The Further Adventures of Lord Quas will appeal to listeners who don’t bring any preconceived notions of what a hip-hop record should sound like. But even for the biggest fans, the second Quasimoto record can feel uneven, and really no record that isn’t a compilation should contain twenty-six tracks. When you’ve got that much material, it’s not a question of which songs should have been left off; it’s a matter of shortening your approach to strengthen your impact. Nevertheless, Madlib has continued his winning streak, using a kitchen-sink production method that is quietly moving to the forefront of hip-hop.