• Sophia Hill

Madlib Recruits Four Tet for New Album 'Sound Ancestors'

LA-based beat virtuoso Madlib has unveiled his highly-anticipated album Sound Ancestors in collaboration with Putney-born producer Four Tet.

A producer, multi-instrumentalist, DJ and rapper, Madlib (born Otis Jackson Jr.) has more LPs than most; having released numerous tracks under a slew of other names like the Bee Conductor, Monk Hughes and of course his alter-ego in the form of a fuzzy yellow beast named Quasimoto – who portrayed himself as a bizarre, gritty outsider who has a high-pitched voice which was a refreshing take on hip hop upon his first emergence.

Madlib’s first breakthrough moment goes back to the mid-90s on The Alkaholiks Likwidation. Best known for his partnerships with hip hop legends such as the underground phenomenon and luminary MF DOOM (RIP) on Madvillainy, Talib Kweli’s Liberation, and Freddie Gibbs’ Piñata - the latter a case of Madlib and Gibbs bringing out the best in each other, providing witty one-liners and smooth beats. Jay Dilla and Madlib also came together to form Jay Lib, producing Champion Sound in 2003. Other popular collaborations include productions for the likes of Erykah Badu and Kanye West.

Kieran Hebden (AKA Four Tet) has spent recent months digging through gold-mines finding old mixes for his YouTube channel, which is where it was first announced that we could expect to see a forthcoming album from himself and Madlib. Although the two seem as though they would be an unlikely pairing they have actually known each other for the better part of 20 years. Vinyl archaeologists might be an appropriate term for the pair - as they first connected over a love of discovering old records.

As a result, Madlib and Four Tet remained in touch and over the last two years Madlib has sent over hundreds of different compositions according to the British producer; who eventually decided to persuade Lib to culminate the work into a record of its own.

The 41-minute, 16-song tracklist delivers an immersive journey into the variety of influences that makes up Madlib’s legacy. Hip hop is evident. However, aside from that, we can hear mastery from genres such as jazz, rock, reggae, Latin and electronic music. ‘The Call’, initially sounds as though it’s going to take the form of a hip hop track but evolves into two minutes of an emphatic electronic-beat while evoking elements from the sounds of the 60s. The next song ‘Theme De Crabtree’ transitions to something more reggae-dominant, followed by the hypnotic tune of the fourth track – ‘Road of The Lonely Ones’. The 12th song is a funky tribute to long-time friend and musical accomplice, the late Jay Dilla, titled ‘Two for 2 - For Dilla’. Previously released singles from the album include “Road of the Lonely Ones” and “Hopprock”, “Dirtknock”.

This new album is a synthesis of a huge range in styles, cleverly compiled by Four Tet into one record; taking the adaptive Madlib further into new territories with synthetic mixes over the beat-making legend’s eclectic sound.

Sound Ancestors is available to stream now on Spotify.

If you want to hear more from Four Tet's recent work it's worth checking out his remix of Headie One’s ‘18 Hunna’, and 2017 release – ‘SW9 9SL’ from his album New Energy.

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