Medicine Show No. 9: Channel 85 Presents NittyVille

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The first volume in Madlib’s monthly Medicine Show series to be released out of order, Vol. 9: NittyVille brings reminders of Vol. 1, which found the blunted and funky producer working exclusively with one rapper. Before, it was Guilty Simpson, but here it’s another Detroiter, Frank Nitt, who is featured on a conceptually sound effort that plays to Nitty’s skills as a hype man as he MCs Madlib’s imaginary television station, Channel 85. Judging from the station’s soundtrack, programming is divided between classic blaxploitation shows, where gum-snapping queens of the street flirt with all drivers-by, and some kind of reimagining of BET’s Rap City where “Freestyle Fridays” come from an alternative universe that still believes in the KRS-One and K.M.D. idea of boom-bap. It’s a jagged mess in the best Madlib way possible, as sampled voices from decades past interrupt Nitt’s C-Rayz Walz-styled delivery and his punchline-filled rhymes about weed and women. Representing a different time when TV speakers were tiny, it’s interesting how much smaller and ‘80s-influenced Madlib’s productions are here, and if you’re lucky enough to grab a physical copy of the release, you are rewarded with a bizarre, Channel 85 postcard book/TV Guide. For a series that’s as odd as it is underground, this is still an esoteric entry, but it’s the kind of puzzling head-trip the Medicine Show series was made for, so tune in and flip out.

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