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Quasimoto - The Further Adventures of Lord Quas

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Artist: Quasimoto

Album: The Further Adventures of Lord Quas

Label: Stones Throw

Review date: May. 18, 2005

Modern rap music is like McDonald’s: it's made for quick consumption, everything has to be super-sized, and the laundry list of polysyllabic preservatives (producers, guests, remixes, bonus tracks, bonus DVDs) leaves the meat tasting a bit tainted. In the end, yeah, you were hungry, but now your stomach hurts and you've taken a few years off your life. Quasimoto, alter ego of producer/MC/weed connoisseur Madlib, isn’t exactly health food, but his diet’s definitely more well-rounded than most rappers’. Sure, he's a bad character – a brick-throwing, mushroom-gulping, money-scrounging, skirt-chasing MC – but there’s no pretense to Quas’ absurdity.

Set in the mythical land of "The Lost Gates," Quasimoto's The Further Adventures of Lord Quas is just what it professes to be. Nothing has changed since 1999's The Unseen: he still has to deal with dirty cops, estranged ex-girlfriends, drunken panhandlers, and shady bootleg tape salesmen. "Greenery" is a sideways revamp of "The Return Of The Ill Loop Digga," but here Quas and 'Lib are hitting up a headshop instead of a record store. "Rappcats" revisits the inner fandom of the duo's previous "Jazzcats," but pays homage to real rap heroes of the day instead of innovative jazz folk.

That doesn’t mean Quas is blowing the dust off his basement-crate creations. In fact, Madlib transcends the big-beat glitz by stripping the production to a damn-near-lo-fi fuzz. On "Maingirl," he turns Quas' vision of an hourglass lass into a cyclical hi-hat swish complete with Indian war cry. "Life Is…" cuts in and out of a droll Melvin Van Peebles piano holler, leaving cats shaking instead of nodding their heads. "Closer" revisits the Madvillain braintrust as MF Doom preaches a sermon while Lord Buckley does a hucklebuck over a loping soul hook. Elsewhere, Madlib sounds like he's concocting beats on a Fisher Price record player, with Saturday morning cartoons blaring in the background.

In fact, the most astounding thing about Lord Quas is not Madlib going against the grain, but that it’s basically The Unseen 2005, completely devoid of hits, and still ultimately compelling. In an age of backroom reinvention, where the tandem of public capriciousness and personal greed has rendered one’s place in history null, Madlib is steadfast in being…well, Madlib. Whether he's Quasimoto or Monk Hughes or DJ Rels, there is something that remains utterly Madlib in each persona, like Steve Albini's abattoir guitar sound, Tom Waits' guttural carnival bark, or the way John Coltrane made you feel his passion with every breath in his body. Booted beyond belief on psychedelics, music history and dusty records, Madlib’s no-sheen zone may sound vintage, but it never gets old.

By Stephen Sowley

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