Medicine Show No. 13: Black Tape

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Hidden like dad's old stack of Playboys, this unannounced 13th volume of Madlib's Medicine Show series -- a series of themed albums released at a pace of one a month -- comes packaged like an old, naughty "party record" (the kind comedians like Redd Foxx and Moms Mabley used to release), but it's not so porno after all. Here, a cappellas from the likes of Nas, 50 Cent, Ghostface, and others sit on top of Madlib's Medicine Show psychedelic funk and dubby hip-hop productions, and while it could be the ultimate whirlwind mixtape of blends, the flow is rocky, stopping and starting as if these were demos lifted from the studio by bootleggers. That fits with the packaging and the whole "surprise bonus" attitude of the release, but it pales in comparison to the more purposeful volumes in the series and hangs off the ambitious project as a true curio. Real "inner circle" stuff, but Madlib's fans love deconstructing his work, so consider this one for the bedroom producer along with the completist.

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