Madlib is a prodigiously prolific producer, so it makes sense that his best stuff — namely, 2000’s The Unseen, on which he raps in the helium-rigged voice of his dastardly alter-ego Quasimoto, and 2004’s Madvilliany, where he plays Eric B. to MF Doom’s Rakim — has been the work with the most explicit restrictions. Madlib often works within specific themes: see this year’s Sunjinho, a Brazilian jazz project, or 2003’s Shades of Blue, a remix album of deep cuts from the Blue Note archives. But those themes act as sparks for his meandering creative impulses, not restraints. It’s been the explicitly restrictive stuff that has managed to hone and drive his overactive talent into his sharpest releases.
W.L.I.B AM: King of the Wigflip, the last-ever installment in Rapster/BBE’s Beat Generation series, is not one of those releases. Which isn’t to say that it’s a misfire. Wigflip , a loose collection of instrumentals and collaborations within Madlib’s MC Repertory (Guilty Simpson, J. Rocc, MED), is exactly the album dude wanted to make. Production-wise, it’s uniformly excellent — crackly, odd beats, full of lush horns and driving drums, beats alternately small and sinister and huge and undeniable. (Most of the mic work, on the other hand, is too blunt to really hang.) But it’s aimless — like a lot of his more meandering works, Wigflip feels like the type of thing Madlib could churn out on any given lazy Sunday afternoon.
So, ‘Lib, how about that Madvilliany sequel? Please?