Our music staff has returned with their eighth round of Music Streaming Suggestions! We have another diverse lineup this week, headlined by the likes of MF DOOM, Mac DeMarco, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Key Glock & Young Dolph. As usual, we added our new suggestions to our weekly-updated Spotify playlist for your listening pleasure.
Madvillainy (2004) - Madvillain
In honor of its 17th birthday last Tuesday, it only felt right to highlight one of the most experimental and influential albums to ever grace hip-hop.
Madvillain, a duo consisting of masterminds MF DOOM and Madlib, became one of the most revered hip-hop duos of all-time, but the pairing only occurred by chance. In 2002, budding producer Madlib was on then-small label Stones Throw Records, and the label sent DOOM some of Madlib’s beats through a local connection. DOOM fell in love with the beats and wanted to cook up with Madlib, and DOOM’s manager at the time requested to be flown out to LA and to receive an additional $1,500. After buying their plane tickets, Stones Throw didn’t even have the $1,500 to give them. Once DOOM and his manager arrived, Stones Throw manager “Egon” Alapatt managed to put on a charade for DOOM’s manager while DOOM and Madlib went off to become acquainted with one another. Egon’s plan was to distract DOOM’s manager while DOOM and Madlib meshed so that they would genuinely want to work together, and it worked. Stones Throw was eventually able to get the money to DOOM’s manager, and DOOM signed a contract to the label on a paper plate.
Two years later—after a leak and subsequent re-do—the album was released to widespread acclaim from fans and critics alike; at the time, it was one of the best-received hip-hop albums ever, and it has continued to hold its place on various all-time lists. Madvillainy is marked by a plethora of distinguishable traits—a factor that has led to its longevity and its influence on contemporaries ranging from Drake to Tyler, the Creator. The common thread of these traits is quite clear: DOOM and Madlib did not like to stay inside the lines.
This common thread is salient in Madlib’s production and DOOM’s delivery. Madlib’s production on the album is laden with obscure jazz, soul, and world music samples, and he even spliced in voice samples from 1940s movies and broadcasts. The beats are mostly arranged in non-traditional structures, as the album seldom contained hooks or choruses. As for DOOM’s delivery, he essentially re-wrote the rules for lyricism. Most of DOOM’s bars are free-associative, a psychological process that entails diving into the subconscious and speaking whatever comes to mind without censorship. With this free-flowing approach came the reinvention of multiple literary devices—multisyllabic rhymes, assonance, alliteration, wordplay, and double entendres, to name a few; analyzing DOOM’s use of language should impress even the most pretentious English professors.
DOOM’s left-field approach to lyricism has inspired droves of MCs to this day; following DOOM’s untimely passing last year, the outpouring of tributes and the sheer sense of loss in the hip-hop community made it clear how many contemporary artists were inspired by DOOM—especially from his efforts on this album. Inspiring rappers all across the genre’s wide spectrum, I think this phenomenon is noted most succinctly by Playboi Carti, stating in an interview with Inked Mag: “I don’t have to sound like MF DOOM to be inspired by him. Nobody can keep a leash on him. Nobody can keep a leash on me. That’s definitely his impact. Even if I didn’t know that at first, I had to look up and think about this shit right here—it had already been done.”
HIGHLIGHT TRACKS: “Fancy Clown,” “Accordion,” and “Meat Grinder”
Salad Days (2014) - Mac DeMarco
Seven years. As we can decide to celebrate the upcoming April showers and the slight temperature increase, I choose to celebrate the dawn of April by constantly looping Salad Days by indie legend Mac DeMarco. After Mac’s second album, 2, Mac had some high expectations to reach. As 2 was very hard to live up to, Mac did exactly that. Salad Days transitions from the heavy, sharp, and tight guitar riffs in 2 to a quieter, introspective, and more psychedelic formula of a variety of instruments. Don’t worry; the guitar is still present, but the beauty of Salad Days is that with less potent guitar, the album leaves room for other instruments like synths and bass to intermix with. This new combination leaves the listener with an array of emotions that range from a single tear softly falling onto your pillow reminiscing about old lovers, to a subtle sway of the head with a soft smile. Whether it's the romance or the subtle happiness, there is something admirable for everyone listening. This is one of the few albums that I have placed in the streaming station that I can listen to with my mom and not feel immensely uncomfortable in the process. That’s a plus! So, get the family around the kitchen counter, grab a few brews and a pack of Camels, and have a beautiful night listening to this groovy display of tracks. -Marty Gross
HIGHLIGHT TRACKS: “Passing the Pieces,” “Chamber of Reflection,” and “Goodbye Weekend”