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Madlib - Beat Konducta Vol. 1-2: Movie Scenes

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Artist: Madlib

Album: Beat Konducta Vol. 1-2: Movie Scenes

Label: Stones Throw

Review date: Apr. 13, 2006

Madlib must be the busiest man in hip hop. Quasimoto, Lootpack, Bluenote’s Shades of Blue, Jaylib and Madvillain: the collaborative nature of the underground has taken Otis Jackson Jr. and his beats to places he never would have traveled alone. Unfortunately, this single disc round-up of both volumes of his Beat Konducta solo instrumentals won’t add anything substantial to his upward trajectory. Falling somewhere between a compilation, a beat CD and a producer showcase, this fails to satisfy on any of those levels. With the longest track here running at only 2:13, most of these instrumentals are over before they’ve even begun to take root.

Like a shortchanged version of (fellow Madvillainy member) MF Doom’s Special Herbs series, these brief cuts give a taste of what makes Madlib great, but seem intent on leaving you wanting more. Beat Konducta isn’t a case of beats falling flat – the ramshackle element is part of Madlib’s appeal – the tracks just don’t work as background music, which is what this ‘soundtrack for an imaginary movie’ ostensibly is supposed to do. The snippets fail to conjure any kind of obvious mood or accompanying visuals, despite titles that claim to do just that.

The rough nature of the edits, fade-outs and the irregular rearrangements of his sampled sources sound more like semi-formed recreations than new songs. Refusing to rely on of-the-minute production tricks, plug-ins or a signature sound (beyond his love of Stax, soul and jazz), these 35 pieces move through different styles too quickly. The buzzing confusion of “Snake Charmer (Heads Up),” the stripped groove of “The Rock (Humps)” and the messy R&B of “Understanding (comprehension)” are briefly masticated and spat out, leaving an aftertaste of dilettantism. The simplistic and distanced dissection of “Planet Rock” on “Open (Space)” is one of the rare winners. The rest just sounds too … busy.

By Scott McKeating

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