Album review: 'Madvillainy 2,' by Madlib & MF Doom

Patrick Varine

Most discerning hip-hop fans will tell you that the album by New York underground legend MF Doom and West Coast producer extraordinaire Madlib, "Madvillainy," is a hands-down classic. And we all know it’s not wise to mess with a classic.

And really, "Madvillainy 2: the Madlib Remix" wasn’t meant to be an album at all. It was just a mix that Madlib made to pass the time on a flight to Tokyo. But more than likely, as it got passed around to friends, more and more got to nodding their heads, and now, it’s available as a $9.99 MP3 download on Stones Throw Records Web site, and also as a box set that comes with a t-shirt, comic book and more.

Back to the album. As a companion piece to the original disc, "Madvillainy 2" succeeds, but on its own, it’s notable more for the scattered moments of excellence as Madlib sifts through records and makes a mixtape for himself.

The complex work that informs much of Madlib’s formal albums is absent here; instead, snatches of soul, funk and world music are blended together for a grainy, rough sound that suits Doom’s gruff flow.

The opener, “No Brain” recasts Madvillain’s “Figaro” by mashing up a few seconds of Brasilian tropicalia with a soul loop or two, and bounces along nicely. “Light of the Past” is the version of “Shadows of Tomorrow” that should have been on the regular album, propelled by a bass drum, wood blocks and a triangle. Elsewhere, a rough-and-tumble funk loop drives “3.214,” big, corny ‘80s synths power “Sermon,” and “Cold One” closes the album with keyboard echoes and jazz drums.

The disc also has a few songs that have appeared elsewhere, including the newest Madvillain song, “Monkey Suit,” and a great remix of “Space Ho’s,” from Doom’s "Mouse and the Mask" album, that sounds like a 1950s cleanser commercial.

If you don’t have the original "Madvillain" album, go out and get it first. But for a quick look at what can happen when hip-hop’s jazzy, abstract genius is just making music for himself, "Madvillainy 2" is a nice appendix.

Download the album or order the box set here.

Sussex Countian