This past Saturday (May 7) the Red Bull Music Academy featured a conversation with Otis Jackson Jr. AKA Madlib moderated by noted music journalist "Chairman" Jeff Mao of ego trip fame. The Grolier Club was packed with worldwide hip-hop fans eager to take a ride through the mind of one of the most prolific and mysterious rap producers, DJ and multi-instrumentalist of our time. Armed with a Technics turntable, a Pioneer mixer and a Pioneer CDJ deck the audience sat back and listened to Madlib's process and watched on as he played samples and explained how he found his various loops (hence the nickname Loop Digga).
He shared some of his musical wisdom when it comes to production. According to Jackson, beats have to come naturally and overthinking can lead to whack outcomes, which is how he explains coming up with Kanye West' "No More Parties in LA" beat made on an iPad. His influences have included the Parliament Funkadelic, the late Prince, the JBs and The Ohio Players; he explained that he also uses jazz as a muse.
In 2010, Madlib Invazion was founded as an independent hip-hop label with the Madlib Medicine Show Series being it's first release. Jackson spoke of an upcoming project set to be released by Madlib Invazion soon featuring Freddie Gibbs, titled Bandana. In response to a question about beats given to Kanye, Madlib stated "Six CDs. Gibbs took all of them, rapped over everything. Kanye waited too long."
When it comes to samples, Madlib told the crowd that if he hears a song along the way that he likes, he purchases that album, samples not only the song he originally heard but also the other songs on the album. Now, he made it clear that most of the time he never releases this music but that the songs do exist in his catalogue. When asked about his creative process Jackson stated, "I shut off from the world, man, it's something you can't try to do, it's something that happens. That's my life, it's a blessing and a curse."
It's no surprise then that Madlib referenced working with the late J. Dilla, their love of the same types of music and describing him as a "nice dude." He revealed that the loop for "Lightworks" actually was one of his fav's that came from Dilla.
Quasimoto, a concept born out of not liking his rapping voice and a desire to create an alter-ego, was also referenced. By slowing his recorder down, rapping slowly, then speeding the recorder up Madlib was able to create the high-pitched sound of Quasimoto. But surprisingly enough Madlib says that he doesn't "talk to Quasimoto" anymore and there probably won't be any more projects because he has nothing else to say.
Madlib covered several additional aspects of his creative process, intriguing the audience along the way. Most notably he made it clear, "I don't like shit too perfect. I like human mistakes in my shit. If it's too perfect, I don't like it. If it's too clean or polished, I don't like it."
Fans can look forward to new music with production from Pete Rock, RJ of Slum Village, Evidence of Dilated Peoples, The Gaslamp Killers, and Oh No just to name a few. Stay tuned.