Madlib sat down with Radio France recently to grant a rare interview at the company’s vinyl record archives. Curating selections of Jazz, Hip Hop and other genres, the producer/emcee spoke to Laura Leishman about his own production background and his relationships with other artists.
“My uncle is John Faddis who came under Dizzy Galespie,” he said, “so I knew Jazz before any type of music. Still learning.” Like Galespie, Madlib’s uncle was a trumpeter and his parents were also musicians.
Commenting on his early entry into the industry in the early 1990s, Madlib described touring with the Los Angeles group Tha Alkaholiks. “This is the first crew I was down with,” he said. “This is the first people I went on tour with. I quit college to be in this crew, came back from the tour broke. That’s how I learned how to drink, hanging out with Tha Alkaholics. I came back broke. I didn’t make any money.”
Madlib, who released a partially new Quasimoto album in 2013, later added his thoughts on J Dilla, a producer he worked with prominently under the shared name Jaylib. “He was the funkiest, just by how he programs loose and not quantized,” he said. “It’s like human feel, and the selections that he chose to sample. Every producer bows down to Dilla whether they like it or not, because everybody took something from him like [jazz artist John] Coltrane. That’s why I call him the ‘Coltrane of Hip Hop.’”
Commenting on the lessons he learned from the late Detroit beatsmith, Lib added he was taught to “just stay loose, keep it raw, and bang your drums out sometimes.”
Madlib added a description of the sampling technique he utilized on the debut album from his Quasimoto alias,The Unseen. In reference to source material from Melvin Van Peebles, a composer and film scorer he sampled prominently on the album, Madlib described sampling directly from films.
“I was sampling the movies,” he said. “Sampled off VHS back in the day, all that. So the actual Quasimoto song I’m sampling off both these, the movies.”
Adding a mention of the relationship between Peebles and himself that the samples spawned, Madlib described a shift in attitude. “He wasn’t cool at first, but he understands.”
In 2005, Madlib and Van Peebles established a record contract for a collaborative album, tentatively titled Brer Soul Meets Quasimoto. It has yet to be completed.