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Madlib’s Beat Konducta Vol. 1-2: Movie Scenes

Madlib is like the Robert Pollard of hip-hop. Like the Guided By Voices frontman, Otis Jackson Jr. never seems to stop making music, favoring prolificacy over perfection. He makes most of his beats in under 20 minutes, preferring a freestyle approach to music. This method of making music is bound to alienate listeners who revere the DJ Shadow school of hip-hop, where a producer or DJ is supposed to spend hours upon hours on one track. But that kind of thinking is silly, because good music can be made quickly and terribly boring music can be slaved over for months.

Beat Konducta Vol. 1-2: Movie Scenes is a collection of instrumentals for imaginary movies. Most of the tracks clock in under two minutes and the music runs the gamut from the blaxploitation funk of “The Payback (Gotta)” to the psychedelic pop of “Left on Silverlake (Ride)” to the downtempo of “Pyramids (Change).” Since Madlib is notorious for using outdated equipment, his instrumentals sound tinny next to most hip-hop production, but that’s no doubt intentional.

In a move characteristic of Madlib’s self-conscious sense of humor, the track “The Rock (Humps)” features the “That was soulful sounds part 1, now here’s part 2” sample famously used by RJD2 on “Good Times Roll, Pt. 2.” But instead of the cinematic funk of that track, Madlib gives us an off-beat, rickety orchestra interlude that turns into a plodding beat with beatboxing and slowed-down strings. It’s hard not see the track as a middle finger to RJ, and or at least a raspberry directed at give-the-people-what-they-want producers like him and Diplo (who, in a Pitchfork interview, said he wasn’t a fan of Madlib).

Like last year’s second Quasimoto album, Movie Scenes is all about short bursts of music and hyperactive change-ups. The majority of the songs on the album go through two or three different changes, and though they can be experimental, a melody or groove is never far away.

Invariably, a record like this is never going to cohere into a conventional album. The songs are too short and the mood too all over the place, but to ask for better sequencing and a coherent structure from a project like this would be pointless. Those looking for a more conventional Madlib should check out Madlib Invades Blue Note, in which he remixes jazz tracks from the legendary Blue Note label and plays instrumental versions of Blue Note song staples like “Stormy” and Horace Silver’s “Song For My Father.”

But for those who love the sound of dusty vinyl and “first-thought best-thought” hip-hop production, Beat Konducta Vol. 1-2: Movie Scenes is like manna from the gods. And while critics will bitch and moan about how Madlib’s just lazy and unfocused, they’re simply wrong.

Judging music by the amount of effort put into it is misguided and elitist; the end result is all that matters.