The thing with Madlib and a lot of other prominent sample based beat makers is they have a funny way of imparting their unique style on things in very simple basic ways. There's nothing out of the ordinary really. It's mainly just a good ear. One thing I notice in today's beat culture is dudes try to hard to do to much. I've been really enjoying dillas king of beats album lately (the old dirty unreleased shit). Sample, drums, bassline. Nothing crazy, what makes it enjoyable is the precision of the chops, the drum rhythm and the bass bounce. 3 things all done extremely well. Cats these days think there's some "trick" or some "technique" they're missing when they hear good beat makers. They go out of their way to learn all these "teqniques" and end up making over produced messy beats with heaps of unnecessary sounds piled on top of one another, crazy effects and flabby bass lines. like a restaurant with a 4 page menu but no good food. Learn the basics... Learn how to chop samples properly, learn how to lay down drums with rhythm and tune, learn how to make bass lines. That's all you need... That's all madlib needs.
Yeah I think one of the keys of creativity is knowing when to stop and leave it alone. Madlib's approach to that seems to be to just make tons of beats really quickly and edit everything down to the good bits. With Madlib you can kinda hear the effort and grit and imperfections that went into it. With Dilla though, it sounds effortless, like he was one of those freakish Mozart-types who was able to directly express his ideas. I go back and forth between which approach I prefer.
It's weird though, cuz there was this huge wave of people claiming to be influenced by Dilla right after he died from '06-'12 and then things swung in the opposite direction, like I hear people fronting on him all the time now. I just read in a youtube comment: "I think if Madlib had died he would easily be considered way better than Dilla. Dilla's shit is just like a loop and nothing special." It's cuz Dilla's style is so deceptively simple, dudes tried to emulate it and failed, so then they went instead with the EDM direction, fat drops and stacking twelve percussion loops and so on.