Madlib is a man who cannot sit still. He's always producing beats for himself or for one of the numerous groups he's associated with. The CD version of Beat Konducta, Vol. 1-2 (in 2005 Vol. 1 was released on vinyl, and the Vol. 2 LP came out with the CD) is one of the few solo projects under his name, and is meant to be a kind of soundtrack for a nonexistent movie, though it's not exactly clear how the different tracks relate to one other (or what kind of plot they would be narrating!) except for the fact that they have all been very clearly created by Madlib. His style is pretty recognizable. Because he never does more than a few takes to make anything, his beats have a living quality to them, which, even though it means there are occasional missteps, is a nice change from many of the super-produced sounds of his contemporaries. He also has a particular fondness for '70s soul samples (Carla Thomas' "I've Fallen in Love with You" on "Stax (Strings)" and the Luther Ingram version of Sam Cooke's "You Were Made for Me" on "Whutkanido (Can Do It)," to name a few), but he's not afraid to dive into funk, rock, or even house if he likes the sound of it. Instead of starting from nothing and building up a piece, like many producers do, Madlib is more interested in dissecting an already written song and creating a new version of it from what he has. This is even more remarkable considering that he does everything without any use of master tapes or computers (about which he's very proud), relying instead on turntables, a drum machine and sampler, the occasional keyboard, and a ton of old records. Because of the dependence on other people's music, there will definitely be some familiar elements in Beat Konducta, Vol. 1-2, although Madlib is so adept at breaking his samples apart, distorting their sound, or completely deconstructing them (not to mention the sheer number he uses per track) that by the time he's finished they can hardly be identified. But each song does have its own feel, its own meaning, and Madlib guides his listeners with titles and subtitles that (generally) relate back to the song and to each other, either contextually or semantically, to create a very detailed, though still utterly bewildering, glimpse into the producer's musical thought process. It's a privilege to have even that.
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