Its now been a good 11 years since one of the greatest hip-hop albums this century was released, the product of the dynamic relationship between two of the genre’s most obscure figures. MF DOOM and Madlib combined to create the highly exalted Madvillainy in 2004, an album that was so different from anything that was out at the time, with DOOM’s mysterious yet clever lyrics gelling with the Beat Konducta’s unconventional and psychedelic production, with sampled cartoon skits to offer comic relief inbetween.
I first listened to the album at the age of 16, when I was beginning to shift away from the rap my older siblings banged around the house (the Jay-Z’s, Biggie’s, Ludacris’ etc.) to projects outside of the perceived rap mainstream. Many of DOOM’s messages went over my head at the first listen, however. It was only after having the album on constant repeat, that I began to grasp Metal Fingers’ bars and his many intricacies and oddities that make him such a unique figure in hip-hop.
Meanwhile Madlib, through this album and his work as Quasimoto, with the Lootpack and his incredibly dense production discography, firmly established himself as my favourite producer of all time with genius beats which suited DOOM incredibly and demonstrated to me the boundaries to which hip-hop could be taken (I mean, come on, who else could make “Accordion”, “America’s Most Blunted” and Rhinestone Cowboy”?!)
I’ve been a full-on stan of the duo since then and every year I find myself praying to the most high for some new work. Madlib has said in countless interviews when asked the inevitable question of the duo’s developments, that it is entirely up to DOOM for when another collaborative album sees the light of day.
But for whatever reason DOOM hasn’t seemed to be on the same page as the producer, instead fitting in collabs with Danger Mouse, Jneiro Jarel and Bishop Nehru (just last year) in the same time span as the fans continue to persevere for that new Madvillain.
And I’m not even going to count Madlib’s remix of the entire album in 2008 which, while good in some places, just wasn’t what I wanted. There were snippets of the continuation Madlib suggested would be the theme for the next project with “Avalanche” and “Papermill“, two solid post-Madvillainy songs which showed that the dynamic between MC and producer was still strong and whetted the appetite for more output.
So imagine my excitement when, last year, a leaked email from DOOM to Stones Throw Records label head Peanut Butter Wolf revealed he had more or less completed recording for the new project, only for the email to be revealed as an April Fools’ prank (the levels of cruelness are so high for this one).
Then, back in July this year, two new Madvillain tracks surfaced online, but were almost immediately taken down. Both “Untitled” featuring long-time Madlib collaborator MED and “Travis 911” only served the same purpose – one-off songs to generate excitement that would then be snatched away.
At this point, I’m getting restless. DOOM and Madlib (but especially DOOM) simply need to reconvene and finish the next album. But if even Madlib is in the dark about DOOM’s progress, as he has explained before, then there’s really no telling how much work the supervillain is actually putting in, or when we’ll see the new project. At the end of the day if DOOM has enough time to work with other artists, surely he has enough time to finish the project that his fans are most impatient for?
I’ve definitely enjoyed both artists’ post-Madvillainy albums, particularly Pinata, Madlib’s collab with Freddie Gibbs last year, and DOOM’s NehruvianDOOM with Bishop Nehru also, but the duo of Madvillain is the creme-de-la-creme of both of their collaborative endeavours, and they must know that.
Their musical relationship is so identical and the fact that Madvillainy remains as fresh sounding today as it did 11 years ago is a testament to its genius and originality. Now, for Madvillain to build on that and f*ck the game up again with another classic, as they did in 2004, would be nothing short of a miracle.
Until then however, I’ll continue to pray every night.