You duck under low-hanging objects that droop into the shady alley through which you walk. You’ve been following the faint sound of a beat that thumps through the frigid night, and you’ve finally arrived at a large metal door. You knock upon it, but the beat continues and there is no response. You knock again, much more loudly this time, and the beat stops. The door slides open to reveal a circle of people surrounding one individual, all passing a mic . . .
I can’t be the only one that feels a tinge of hesitance upon seeing a tracklist stuffed with featured artists. What if there’s a weak link? What if the vocal performances don’t mesh with the music? Fortunately, this record laughs at these concerns. Bad Neighbor is the newest collaborative full-length from rappers MED and Blu, and legendary hip-hop producer Madlib. This album is a party, and all of their talented friends are invited.
Madlib can simply do no wrong. These trunk-rattling instrumentals are stacked with the studio warlock’s trademark funk influence, sample-contortions, and woozy rhythms, and each is custom-built to suit the unique flows of MED, Blu, and a plethora of choice guests, including Anderson .Paak, Aloe Blacc, Dâm-Funk, MF Doom, Mayer Hawthorne, and more. It’s the conceptual, recorded equivalent of the most epic cipher session ever.
There’s a vital message tucked within this seemingly casual listening experience, and it’s just that; there’s nothing wrong with “casual,” because some of the most brilliant sparks of genius are ignited in low-pressure environments. Madlib plays the role of chemist, and his ability to catalyze disparate elements to form artful coherence is masterful. If you’re seeking loose-flowing, intricately produced hip-hop, this album is for you.
– stasi (@stasisphere)