· By Erwin Morales

A poor intent of unravelling Madvillainy: The Masterpiece in Hip-Hop


    Hip-hop, just like the universe, expands constantly, but only some albums and artists transcend the boundaries of time and location, leaving a mark on both the genre and its listeners. Among these timeless classics stands Madvillian's "Madvilianny", the iconic 2004 collaborative album between the multi-instrumentalist, rapper (behind Quasimoto) and producer Madlib, and the rapper MF DOOM (all caps). Madviliany remains a cornerstone for underground hip-hop. 

    With the aim of exploration and appreciation, let's throw some ideas into what makes "Madvillainy" such a good and influential album.

    The Production


    The central thread of the album is the visionary production of Madlib. Recognised for his unique way of sampling and unconventional beat structures, Madlib crafted a sonic landscape that defied almost any convention, even 20 years later. From the hypnotic sequences and loops of "Accordion" to the sandy textures of "All Caps", each track on "Madvillainy" shows all of Madlib's unparalleled creativity and musicality. His ability to blend jazz, soul, funk, music around the world and obscure sound loops like the uneasiness that can produce parts of "Rhinestone Cowboy", creates a rich variety that rewards every time you listen to the album, regardless is the first or the 60th time you do it.

    The Rhymes

    Complementing Madlib's production is the intricate lyricism of MF DOOM. A composer of the highest order, DOOM's tangled rhyme schemes and cryptic lyrics capture the listeners from the opening bars of "Accordion" to the closing verses of "Rhinestone Cowboy." With his enigmatic voice, mask and multiple personas across the whole album, DOOM expresses a narrative that is equally introspective and irreverent but never boring or conventional.

    The Cohesion

    What truly sets "Madvillainy" apart? The synergy between Madlib and MF DOOM. United by their love for music and not only hip-hop culture, the duo created an album that is not easily categorised. Each track flows seamlessly into the next, forming a cohesive entity that demands to be experienced in its entirety, as any album should be done. Exploring themes of mortality, identity, and the absurdity of our modern life, Madlib and MF DOOM created an underground masterpiece. Both artists declared that it was done almost with telepathy while exchanging books, music and beats sent on CD-R, and only short periods together in the studio.

    After two decades since its release, "Madvillainy" continues to inspire artists and listeners. Its influence can be found in the work of contemporary hip-hop artists such as Kendrick Lamar, Atmosphere, and Tyler the Creator, who have cited the album as his main source of inspiration. Even as transgressive as its spirit, the influence of this album cross-pollinated other genres like electronic music with Flying Lotus and Thom Yorke.

    In short, "Madvillainy" stands as one of the best proofs of creativity and innovation in hip hop, from the production, sampling music buried in one of the many Brazilian (or other parts of the world) record shops, to the lyrics, jokes, puns and all the vast MF DOOM vocabulary used to create both perfect and unconventional rhymes.