Madlib, one of the most distinctively inventive DJ-producers on the planet, has given African music fans a gift. Madlib Medicine Show No. 3: Beat Konducta in Africa, out March 23, 2010 on Stonesthrow Records, is a 44-track masterpiece that draws on a variety of African musical styles from different corners of the continent. Listening to this album is like watching a documentary about Africa in an acid dream.
Madlib uses his characteristically smooth production style to create a transformational soundscape. Almost every track on the album is under two minutes. The grooves are tight and catchy, but they change frequently and don’t always segue easily. Madlib uses the regular changes of pace to his advantage, however, incorporating a wide variety of samples and cuts. It’s almost as if he has musical ADD, changing styles and rhythms every two minutes and cramming as much into every track as possible.
The running commentary from a 1950’s documentary sounding voice sets the mood throughout the album. Madlib seeks to introduce people to the African continent and the diversity of sounds therein. He functions as a musical tour guide, exposing listeners to sounds and influences even avid African music fans will find enlightening.
Madlib has created something that is entirely new and original, yet pays homage to a plethora of established African musical styles. Some tracks are smooth and refined almost like mainstream hip-hop beats, while others are rough and ragged like putting on an old record you found in your uncle’s basement.
Whether you love African music, or simply respect the wizardry of Madlib, this album is totally worth exploring. It will broaden your horizons and make you re-examine conventional hip-hop beats at the same time. Hip-hop wouldn’t be possible without Africa, and Madlib exemplifies exactly how and why.