Madlib has described himself as a “a DJ first, producer second, and MC last,” and is one of Hip Hop’s most influential names. Also known as Otis Jackson Jr, Madlib’s discography spans over three decades, and has included collaborative ventures with everyone from MF Doom to Erykah Badu – and now he’s working with Loyle Carner. But how did he come up?
Originally from Oxnard, Cali, Madlib formed a loose-knit collective of rappers, who worked with him in his “Crate Diggas Palace” studio, before creating the Lootpack with DJ Romes and Wild Child – who so happened to be his childhood friends. Working for other artists before debuting as a trio under ‘Lootpack’, the musicians had crafted an extensive arsenal of skills in the industry: from producing to MC-ing, that propelled Madlib to great heights by the end of the 90s. Performing under alter-ego Quasimoto, Madlib’s ability to spit and produce his albums earned him critical attention and overwhelming success within the Hip Hop set and beyond.
His overarching capabilities only expanded by 2001, when he released Yesterday’s New Quintet – a project which saw hjm experiment and infuse his sound with jazz, whilst building on his honed and developed lyrical prowess. For this project, which landed at the turn of the century, Madlib played all of the instruments himself, as well as producing and mixing the majority of its tracks.
However, by 2003, the producer/rapper/musician returned to Hip Hop and created some of the genre’s most seminal works. First linking up with fellow producer Jay Dilla to birth Jaylib, the two released Champion Sound and created a buzz. But it was his project with MF Doom, MadVillainy, that ultimately shot Madlib to new levels of fame. Widely regarded as one of the most powerful and influential projects in Hip Hop at large, these songs still top his ‘most listened’ on Spotify, and are firmly embedded into the hip hop hall of fame.
Since then, the multi-disciplined musician has undertaken a number of ambitious and exciting projects – including producing Ye’s No More Parties in LA as well as now collaborating on a second song with Loyle Carner, who injects Madlib’s signature name conjunction, this time as ‘MadLoyle’, into both singles. Making a distinct and much-coveted mark on every project he touches, Madlib’s authentic love for music and cross-generational experience has meant that his sound and reputation is as wrapped up in powerful self-expression as it is in dynamic collaborations.
Despite theorising that the world has only heard 30% of the music he’s made throughout his career (there’s a MacLib EP with Mac Miller in existence somewhere to name just one), Madlib has successfully made a name for himself as a rapper, producer, DJ and all-around music legend. His expansive style and deft touch for composition make him one of hip-hop’s most sought-after producers, perhaps because of his multi-genre appreciation and expertise. Equally comfortable crate digging or mining the jazz archives, Madlib’s solo and collaborative projects are ones not to be missed, and not to be forgotten.
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