Album Review: Madlib - Sound Ancestors

Madlib unleashes his new album with the help of Four Tet.
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Madlib & Four Tet

Madlib & Four Tet

Hip-hop super producer Madlib may be best known for his album collaborations with artists like MF DOOM (RIP), Freddie Gibbs, Georgia Anne Muldrow, Talib Kweli and others, but he has developed a pretty strong discography on his own. His music has spanned sleek and luxurious hip-hop productions, unlikely samples that fit just right, jazz and much more. Now he has released a new album Sound Ancestors, which is listed as a solo effort, but it was done largely in collaboration with Four Tet.

Four Tet helped outline the process of making this album that happened over a few years. It was created using hundreds of different pieces of music that Four Tet helped arrange, edit, manipulate and combine. Madlib sent along tracks, loops, experiments and other ideas that Four Tet helped shape into the record we have today.

The record spans reggae, rock, jazz, electronic and of course hip-hop. There aren’t any listed features on Sound Ancestors, but that doesn’t mean it is only instrumentals. “The Call” embraces a rock bass groove, a vocal and wind instruments before it transitions into a hip-hop and reggae track “Theme De Crabtree.” The album is filled with these genre transitions that at first can feel a bit abrupt, but they are necessary since the songs draw you in so close with a hypnotic gaze. The title track “Sound Ancestors” has the chaotic energy of a jazz jam of people warming up before a gig that quickly shifts on a dime with a new energy into “One For Quartabê / Right Now.” It pays homage to the king of these types of amorphous, sample-led beats, J Dilla with “Two for 2 – For Dilla.”

Despite the shifting sonic sands of Sound Ancestors, it fits incredibly well together. The musical fragments probably were hard to understand at first, but now that they are pieced together, it all sounds delightful. It is both an ode to those who have come before us, but also keeps the path well worn for those heading into the future.

Stream the album below and pick up a copy here.

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