the 10th anniversary of Madlib's Yesterdays New Quintet, we're taking a look back at the group's records and their many associated offspring which have come to be known collectively as Yesterdays Universe.
2000-2007: Yesterdays New Quintet
In the late 90s, Madlib was making a name for himself in indie hip-hop as creator and producer of Lootpack and Quasimoto, but by the time Quasimoto's album The Unseen was topping some critic's year-end lists in 2000, he had begun an extended break from hip-hop production, trading the SP1200 for the Fender Rhodes.
Yesterdays New Quintet – Joe McDuphrey, Malik Flavors, Ahmad Miller, Monk Hughes and Otis Jackson Jr., with Madlib as producer, arranger and engineer –
was formed in the summer of 2000, setting up shop in the living room the Los Angeles home/headquarters of Stones Throw Records. They lived and worked there through the end of the year before moving to Madlib's studio in a former cold war-era bomb shelter elsewhere in L.A.
While releasing series of singles and EPs, the group played various unpromoted and experimental shows through the year, some of which are chronicled in the liner notes of later releases. Their debut album Angles Without Edges was released on the unfortunate date of Sept. 11, 2001 and was ignored by virtually everyone, except those who listened, and loved it. An album of Stevie Wonder covers recorded during their formative period was also released later in 2003.
2002-2007: Joe, Ahmad, Monk, Malik and Otis – solo releases
Madlib envisioned something similar to a Wu-Tang trejectory for the group, with each of the subsequent records released as different phases of the group under their individual names. Several new performers came into the frey during this period, many of whom performed on Madlib's Shades of Blue (2003), his remix album for Blue Note. Expanded beyond the original five members of YNQ, the greater collective grew into "Yesterdays Universe."
Joe McDuphrey Experience – Experience, EP (2002)
Ahmad Miller – Say Ah, EP (2003)
Monk Hughes & The Outer Realm – A Tribute to Brother Weldon, Album (2004)
Malik Flavors – Ugly Beauty, EP (2004)
Otis Jackson Jr. Trio – Jewelz, EP (2007)
2007-current: Yesterdays Universe and beyond
As early as 2003, Madlib's all-inclusive approach to expanding Yesterdays Universe was causing tensions among the original core group. Yesterdays New Quintet announced a breakup in 2007, but by this time several new groups had already recorded dozens of tracks under Madlib's direction: Young Jazz Rebels, The Last Electro-Acoustic Space Jazz & Percussion Ensemble, Sound Directions, Jahari Masamba Unit, Jackson Conti, just to name a few. The compilation Yesterdays Universe (2007) served to announce these new groups. Madlib Medicine Show #7: High Jazz (2010) introduces even more.
At this point we should address the frequent claims that the five members of Yesterdays New Quintet and the entire Yesterdays Universe collective are fictional aliases, mere figment of Madlib's hazy imagination. Unfortunately, our agreement with Yesterdays New Quintet/Yesterdays Universe prohibits us from divulging any biographical data about the group members or commenting on their physical status in space and time. We can, however, point out that there are documented live performances, and Yesterdays Universe artists who are known for their work outside of the Madlib circle – Karriem Riggins, Ivan "Mamao" Conti, Todd Simon, and Dan Ubick among them. But due to the private nature of Madlib and the members of Yesterdays Universe, we can say no more.
Sound Directions – The Funky Side of Life, Album (2005)
Various Artists – Yesterdays Universe, Album (2007)
The Last Electro-Acoustic… – Miles Away, Album (2010)
Young Jazz Rebels – Slave Riot, Album (2010)
Various Artists – Madlib Medicine Show #7: High Jazz, Album (2010)
RMC – Space & Time, album (2010)
Watch: Sound Directions – trailer by Flying Lotus for an unfinished concert video, 2005
Full list of releases – Madlib Complete Discography
1-2: YNQ studio in Playa Del Rey, Los Angeles 2000 by B+
3: Yesterdays Universe poster 2007, by Jeff Jank