to call madlib a.k.a. otis jackson jr. one of the most versatile musicians of modern times would be a great understatement. it seems that every time we blink he comes up with a new pseudonym or a.k.a under which to make new beats and compositions. while he might be known primarily in hip-hop circles, madlib’s music stretches far across a wide variety of genres, including jazz, funk, and even krautrock (see his latest collaboration with embryo here). his compositions range from laid-back, sultry grooves all the way up to all-out barrages of freak infused jazz and funk sessions.
madlib, a self-professed analogue lover (his weapon of choice is a $300 sampler) , was born in oakland, but raised further south in oxnard where he grew up surrounded by a family of musicians. his uncle, jon faddis played the trumpet with dizzy gillespie and roy ayers, while his father, otis jackson sr. was a session r&b musician. in fact, it was his father who helped him fund a small label (crate diggas palace) that saw the first lootpack release in 1996 before they went on to sign with stones throw records.
although he is mostly known for his work under a host of different guises (i.e. quasimoto, madvillain, or yesterdays new quintet), he has also done production work for other musicians, such as mos def, talib kweli, de la soul, and erykah badu to name a few.
for a clear example of the man’s versatility and musicianship (otis is often found playing drums, bass, vibraphone, and keyboards on his records), one doesn’t need to go too far back. in fact, in january 2010, stones throw announced a series of a once-a-month, twelve-CD, six-LP series titled Madlib Medicine Show. the series spans across madlib’s diverse musical universe while showcasing his skills both as a producer and DJ. with such a broad and prolific catalogue you’d be really hard-pressed to find a more accomplished producer in recent times.
keep up to date with madlib’s doings via his stones throw profile page and also be sure to check out the soundcloud link below for a live DJ session together with j rocc on BBC radio 1…