The Further Adventures of Lord Quas
ver the past five years as Quasimoto, Yesterday’s New Quintet, DJ Rels, as well as his Jaylib and Madvillain collaborations, Madlib has proven that his overall aesthetic defies genre classification. Madlib might not be the first multi-monikered hip-hop artist, but unlike others who have tried to manufacture significance in their name changes, Madlib has a unique style for all of his aliases. And yet, a Madlib production is unmistakably a Madlib production. His expansive, chemically-altered perspective flips even the most mundane sample sources into headphone wonders. Over the course of a surprisingly short 68 minutes, The Further Adventures of Lord Quas features some of Madlib’s most difficult and most accomplished production work to date. Variegated, abstract beats come billowing from the speakers like blunt smoke, a voyage through the many worlds of Madlib and his alter ego Quasimoto.
Madlib’s production on the album, while steeped in the traditions of great beatmakers like Paul C and Pete Rock, is even more firmly rooted in the avant-gardisms of Melvin Van Peebles, “Scratch” Perry, and his beloved Sun Ra. Drums are more than chopped, they’re hacked to pieces and glued back together with Elmer’s and bong resin. Beats start and halt, mirroring the apocalyptic feel of so much of the album. Organic horns and strings nudge right up against synthesized and phased noises, eschewing any kind of flow or cohesiveness. In almost any other album this would be an insurmountable flaw. For Madlib, it merely mirrors his restless and creative spirit.
Quasimoto as a character is often a venue for off-the-beat and offbeat rhymes, but his subject matter often stays close to well-worn topics: “Bullyshit” examines the joys of taking people’s shit, “Fatbacks” turns a classic Showbiz & AG joint into a tribute to large asses, and “Rappcats Pt. 3” hails hip hop’s royalty, both canonical and obscure. But one leitmotif ties everything together, marijuana: procuring it, the consumption thereof, and its magical effects. On “Greenery” Quas and Madlib take two and pass their favorite aspects of the “sticky green leaf,” a not-so-subtle listeners’ guide to enjoying the album even more. And while Quas’ high-on-helium voice is definitely an acquired taste, particularly for listeners who aren’t familiar with the concept, the high-pitched observations fit the music perfectly, intertwining in a way that is mutually beneficial. Of course, those not feeling it can take heart, the Madvillain team reemerges on “Closer,” with Doom spitting over a beat tailor-made for his voice and flow.
Undie hip-hop has been stagnating for years, becoming a conservative and boring alternative to a mainstream that offers more surprises and rewards. Defying conventions, Madlib goes in another direction altogether. He loves hip-hop, and everything in his music reaffirms this, but his artistic vision will not allow itself to be tied to one sound or formula. The album is as frustrating as it is enjoyable because of this. So if you have a hard time feeling this one upon first listen, well, that’s probably what he wanted. And that’s probably why you’ll be coming back for more—and getting it, each time you return.
Reviewed by: Jonathan Forgang
Reviewed on: 2005-05-03