(8 out of 10)
Madlib has never been one to shy away from a challenge. On his previous Beat Konducta voyages, the hip-hop producer has transmogrified soundtrack music, Indian pop, and Brazilian funk into expansive, immersive, and deeply funky sound collages. Imagine the output of the Numero Group and Sublime Frequencies labels churned into beat-heavy butter, and you’d be coming close to nailing the loose and richly inauthentic vibe Madlib creates on these discs.
With his latest entry into the series, though, Madlib truly goes for broke, by tackling the sound of an entire continent. Once again, “authenticity” is not on the menu, as Madlib grabs grooves from all over the place, splicing and dicing long-lost ‘60s and ‘70s soul and funk tracks from north, south, east, and west. It’s a weirdly logical recycling: an American producer recontextualizing the sound made by Africans who were inspired by what African-Americans were doing. Occasionally, a bit like “Mandingo Swing” pops up, evoking some sort of exotic sonic version of African “otherness,” but even then, Madlib riffs on the semantic legerdemain of the track’s title, which is an explicit reference both to the Abbey Road studio musicians who churned out faux-African funk in the ‘60s and ‘70s and the infamous Dino De Laurent is movie.
Also satisfying are the hard-hitting loops of “Obataive” and the slow-burn dizziness of “Jungle Sounds (Part One)”; however, there are 43 (!) tracks here, and this is a disc best taken in as a consecutive piece. It won’t give you any more insight into African music, but it is a rewarding and richly textured reclamation of sounds that have been plundered all too often.
Standout Tracks: “The Frontline (Liberation)”, “African Map Watch”
First appeared May 27, 2010 in Blurt.