5 Insights From Madlib’s RBMA Lecture

Performing under a number of aliases, Madlib (born Otis Jackson Jr) is one of our generation’s most prolific hip-hop and jazz producers. Dropping the full lecture from their New Yorker weekender earlier this month, Red Bull Music Academy’s chat revealed some seldom heard insight into the musical influences of the producer, DJ, rapper, and multi-instrumentalist. While we already reported details of an album with Freddie Gibbs and 20 unheard tracks with MF Doom, the recording reveals some interesting details about the seldom seen artist. Here are five key reveals.

1. Rappers Delight was the beat that started it all

When asked what song got him interested in music, Madlib reflected that it was The Sugarhill Gang’s 1980 single that inspired his crate diving. “I was into funky shit; The Ohio Players, The JB’s,” he reflected. When he later began hip hop sampling it was the records of Marley Marl, Paul C, DJ Pooh, and “old” Dr. Dre.

2. His Quasimoto project was inspired by shrooms

“[Quasitmoto] came about because I don’t like my voice,” Madlib shared. “When I rap they say I sound like Barry White, I had to do something to change my voice…I took my shrooms and bugged out and tried to think of something different. I never intended to put it out.” But it seems like the alias is now retired, “I don’t really like to rap no more, he got nothing to say.”

3. There’s a Prince beat tape

When asked if Quasimoto was inspired by Prince’s vocal processing, Madlib was dismissive. “There’s plenty of artists who did all of that in the 50s and 60s and 70s.” This said, he did put together a tribute beat tape following the death of the artist, although it’s unlikely to see the light of day. When asked what era of Prince he favoured Madlib rated pre-1989 albums like Controversy and Lovesexy amongst the best.

4. He’s going to release an industrial album

It turns out Madlib has been into industrial music for as long as he’s been sampling. “It’s like hip hop – if it’s funky, I’m going to use it,”  he stated. The new album will be taking sounds from acts like Throbbing Gristle and  it’s more or less  finished.

5. It’s the music that matters

Madlib talked about a range of topics from Sun Ra,  taxes, his affinity with “musical cousin” J Dilla and even Akon‘s champagne. But when it came to music; the things he’s releasing via his label, how he samples and creative directions he takes, a recurring theme was that he makes the music he wants to hear.  In Madlib’s view music is “just stuff I want to do. It has nothing to do with anything else.” He also doesn’t mind sounding scrappy: “If it’s too perfect or too clean I’m not really with it. I just do what I want to do regardless… I thank the people who like it, but I don’t care about your criticism.”

Image: Rolling Stone