Madvillain, Madvillainy 2: The Madlib Remix
A sublime piece of rap high art pushes even further into orbit on this tasty remix
Madvillainy was a landmark album, a consensus piece of rap high art. The 2004 work featured Dadaist emcee MF Doom at his creative peak: his parables about blunted weirdos and treacherous characters were punctuated with raunchy punchlines and left-field imagery, making for a kind of sublime surrealism that hasn't been equaled since. Combined with producer Madlib's chaotic, thickly textured beats, the album was almost impossibly fun — and an oddly cohesive gem.
So, why make Madvillainy 2: The Madlib Remix? Better question: why not? Doom is almost completely AWOL these days, heard from only when he's denying rumors that he's on his deathbed, or when he sends in impostors wearing his gladiator mask to play his shows. And so while Madlib may be more than ready to do a Madvillain follow-up album, Doom hasn't quite gotten his act together. In this light, the remix makes sense — if only to give fans something to chew on in Doom's absence.
Madvillainy 2 is certainly tasty — like the first disc, it's challenging but rewards repeated listens. The songs have been dramatically overhauled; some of the original tracks have been renamed but are otherwise similar ("Curls" is now "Pearls!"), some have been reworked, while some have been dumped entirely. Overall, they tend to be more downtempo — "Borrowed Time" samples chanting monks — and display a willingness to push Madvilliany's already experimental song structures even further (see the noise mash-up "Drainos"). As such, the new album probably isn't a good introduction for listeners unfamiliar with the artists involved, but for those who liked Madvillainy, Madvillainy 2 should suffice until the duo's next project.