“Accordion”

  • Thomas Bartlett
  • Salon.com
  • August 11, 2004

Madvillain is a collaboration between Madlib (producer) and MF Doom (MC), two of the most distinctive artists in today's underground hip-hop scene. Despite critical raves, "Madvillainy" hasn't quite generated the level of buzz that would translate into many sales outside of the core audience of underground hip-hop enthusiasts, which is unfortunate, because this is a record that could appeal to a much broader audience and even open a door (a small, oddly-shaped back door) into hip-hop for many who have never found a way in before. Happily, Madvillain's label has offered Salon an exclusive download of my favorite track off of "Accordion." Here Madlib, who gets most of his source material from old soul and jazz records, samples a beautiful, elliptical accordion track (off of a record by the electronic artist Daedelus -- where he took the accordion sample from, I have no idea) and adds a loose, spare beat that's every-so-slightly out of time with the accordion. It's a gentle, swaying, entirely unhurried and un-funky backdrop for MF Doom to rap over. Doom is not an MC you listen to for rhythmic inventiveness or dazzlingly creative rhymes, and the content of his lyrics tends to be too oblique to be easily understood -- scanning the lyric booklet is a little like reading John Ashbery in sporadic rhyme. And as with Ashbery's poetry, the effect is cumulative. Phrase after phrase of half-sense, near-sense and nonsense, all delivered in Doom's rhythmically lazy, sedate drawl can lull you into a dream state where his words are music, floating free of logic or reason. A single track gives only the sketchiest idea of that effect, so I hope you'll consider buying the whole thing to experience it in full. Go straight to the source, Stones Throw Records.