Music

Madlib the Beat Konducta: WLIB AM: King of the Wigflip

As often as it seems like Madlib might be a genius, there are records like this that prove true the old adage of "quality versus quantity".


Madlib the Beat Konducta

WLIB AM: King of the Wigflip

Contributors: Prince Po, J-Rocc, Guilty Simpson, Georgia Anne Muldrow, MED, Oh No, Talib Kweli, Murs
Label: BBE
US Release Date: 2008-09-30
UK Release Date: 2008-09-29
Amazon
Amazon
iTunes

Unlike many of his contemporaries (like MF DOOM, who spent 2008 pretty much ruining his reputation to fans and Internet-heads alike), Madlib did not end his quest to release as many albums as humanly possible. Aside from WLIB AM: King of the Wigflip, he dropped two instrumental Beat Konducta volumes dedicated to the late J Dilla with the help of J-Rocc; worked with Ivan Conti as Jackson Conti to release Sujinho; and remixed Percee P's Perseverance and Madvillian's Madvillainy, both of which Madlib had already produced. On top of that, he crafted tracks for Erykah Badu, Guilty Simpson, and various other artists. To call him merely prolific would be an insult. And it's almost impossible not to think of him as anything other than a blunted genius who never leaves his studio in Oxnard, California.

What we have here is a 24-track, 64-minute collection of tracks featuring the usual guests, like Stones Throw mainstays MED and Roc C, with some others including Prince Po and Murs who all spit over productions from Madlib. The sole outside producer is Karriem Riggins, who helped create the busy, but head-nodding "Heat" as the duo Supreme Team. That track is also one of the few that features Madlib on the mic, which, if you have heard him spit before, can lead to inconsistent results. As expected, "Heat" is no different. Like 'Lib himself, many of the rappers who hit the booth on this album fail to impress. One of the finest examples of this is the otherwise solid "The Ox (805)", which has guest appearances by MED and Poke. Although these emcees aren't wack and they both handle themselves well enough, they fail to bring the heat supplied by the fantastic beat. And tracks like this are why so many hip-hop heads have grown frustrated with Madlib's non-instrumental albums in the past few years. Even if he kills it behind the boards, nothing can save a song from lackluster vocals or raps. And the twin brother to "The Ox (805)" on here is the Frank N Dank-feature "Drinks Up!". Again, neither Frank nor Dank, who you know from their work with Dilla, are awful by any means. But when you pair them up with a beat from Madlib like on "Drinks Up!", which is a dope exercise in minimalism, you are simply left wanting more. Other instances of this misfortune include Roc C and Oh No's underachieving on "Take That Money" and the solid, but still not overly impressive "The Thang-Thang", which has Prince Po handling vocal duties.

Luckily for Madlib and his fans, though, he and some of his guests sync up to balance out the weaker parts of WLIB AM. While "The Plan Pt. 1" and "Gamble on Ya Boy" remain just above-average, they are accelerated by spaced-out samples and an explosion of funk, respectively, from 'Lib. And Georgia Anne Muldrow's transition from singing to rapping on "The Plan Pt. 1" is commendable while Defari's efforts on "Gamble on Ya Boy" match the production, even if the hook is boring. Standing above these two cuts is the on-again, off-again pairing of Madlib and Talib Kweli, who worked together on 2007's Liberation, a fantastic EP that deserves a sequel. They linked up again for "What It Do", which is a chance for Kweli to once again breathe fire at shit-talkers over a laid-back, smooth musical backdrop. Similarly, Madlib provides a straightforward beat for Murs to spit about one of his favorite topics, women, on "Ratrace". But the trump card on here comes from "Go!". Guilty Simpson, perhaps making up for the snooze-fest "Blow the Horns On 'Em" earlier on the album, brings his A-game for this one. And Madlib laces the beat with grit and a wall of noise that sounds like it crept straight from Simpson's hometown of Detroit.

Falling in line with the inconsistency put on display by the emcee and singer features are the instrumentals on this album. For every hypnotic beat filled with slick percussion like "The New Resident", there is an "All Virtue" that lacks a necessary punch. Again, it's a situation where the less than captivating cuts are not deplorable, but they do not live up to the Madlib standard. He does redeem himself, though, on the ridiculously catchy and aptly-titled "Disco Dance", but it's another case of too little, too late. And it's that sentiment that makes WLIB AM so painfully frustrating. But, perhaps, this is to be expected from someone who idolizes Sun Ra both for his creativity and godly catalog. As often as it seems like Madlib might be a genius, there are records like this that prove true the old adage of "quality versus quantity."

6


Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Books

A Fresh Look at Free Will and Determinism in Terry Gilliam's '12 Monkeys'

Susanne Kord gets to the heart of the philosophical issues in Terry Gilliam's 1995 time-travel dystopia, 12 Monkeys.

Music

The Devonns' Debut Is a Love Letter to Chicago Soul

Chicago's the Devonns pay tribute the soul heritage of their city with enough personality to not sound just like a replica.

Music

Jaye Jayle's 'Prisyn' Is a Dark Ride Into Electric Night

Jaye Jayle salvage the best materials from Iggy Pop and David Bowie's Berlin-era on Prisyn to construct a powerful and impressive engine all their own.

Music

Kathleen Edwards Finds 'Total Freedom'

Kathleen Edwards is back making music after a five-year break, and it was worth the wait. The songs on Total Freedom are lyrically delightful and melodically charming.

Television

HBO's 'Lovecraft Country' Is Heady, Poetic, and Mangled

Laying the everyday experience of Black life in 1950s America against Cthulhuian nightmares, Misha Green and Jordan Peele's Lovecraft Country suggests intriguing parallels that are often lost in its narrative dead-ends.

Music

Jaga Jazzist's 'Pyramid' Is an Earthy, Complex, Jazz-Fusion Throwback

On their first album in five years, Norway's Jaga Jazzist create a smooth but intricate pastiche of styles with Pyramid.

Music

Finding the Light: An Interview with Kathy Sledge

With a timeless voice that's made her the "Queen of Club Quarantine", Grammy-nominated vocalist Kathy Sledge opens up her "Family Room" and delivers new grooves with Horse Meat Disco.

Books

'Bigger Than History: Why Archaeology Matters'

On everything from climate change to gender identity, archaeologists offer vital insight into contemporary issues.

Film

'Avengers: Endgame' Culminates 2010's Pop Culture Phenomenon

Avengers: Endgame features all the expected trappings of a superhero blockbuster alongside surprisingly rich character resolutions to become the most crowd-pleasing finalés to a long-running pop culture series ever made.

Music

Max Richter's 'VOICES' Is an Awe-Inspiring and Heartfelt Soundscape

Choral singing, piano, synths, and an "upside-down" orchestra complement crowd-sourced voices from across the globe on Max Richter's VOICES. It rewards deep listening, and acts as a global rebuke against bigotry, extremism and authoritarianism.

Music

DYLYN Dares to "Find Myself" by Facing Fears and Life's Dark Forces (premiere + interview)

Shifting gears from aspiring electropop princess to rock 'n' rule dream queen, Toronto's DYLYN is re-examining her life while searching for truth with a new song and a very scary-good music video.

Music

JOBS Make Bizarre and Exhilarating Noise with 'endless birthdays'

Brooklyn experimental quartet JOBS don't have a conventional musical bone in their body, resulting in a thrilling, typically off-kilter new album, endless birthdays.

Music

​Nnamdï' Creates a Lively Home for Himself in His Mind on 'BRAT'

Nnamdï's BRAT is a labyrinth detailing the insular journey of a young, eclectic DIY artist who takes on the weighty responsibility of reaching a point where he can do what he loves for a living.

Music

Monte Warden and the Dangerous Few Play It Cool​

Austin's Monte Warden and the Dangerous Few perform sophisticatedly unsophisticated jazz/Americana that's perfect for these times

Music

Eleanor Underhill Takes Us to the 'Land of the Living' (album stream)

Eleanor Underhill's Land of the Living is a diverse album drawing on folk, pop, R&B, and Americana. It's an emotionally powerful collection that inspires repeated listens.

Music

How Hawkwind's First Voyage Helped Spearhead Space Rock 50 Years Ago

Hawkwind's 1970 debut opened the door to rock's collective sonic possibilities, something that connected them tenuously to punk, dance, metal, and noise.

Books

Graphic Novel 'Cuisine Chinoise' Is a Feast for the Eyes and the Mind

Lush art and dark, cryptic fables permeate Zao Dao's stunning graphic novel, Cuisine Chinoise.

Music

Alanis Morissette's 'Such Pretty Forks in the Road' Is a Quest for Validation

Alanis Morissette's Such Pretty Forks in the Road is an exposition of dolorous truths, revelatory in its unmasking of imperfection.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.