If Lord Quas, the bad character, the Astro Traveler, the Unseen, is the subject of this article, then it wouldn’t be complete without the input of his closest collaborator, his producer and chief beat maker, Madlib. As such, I find myself in Madlib’s studio, a dust-filled garage behind his expansive Echo Park home, perched awkwardly on a seat behind his drumset, fighting an overpowering urge to sneeze. If it’s true that beauty and order emerge from chaos, then this is the perfect setting: the drums are wedged haphazardly between piles of records, a collection of ancient keyboards and synths leans against a wall under a poster from B-Boy Summit, and directly in front of Madlib, a single desk sags under the weight of a half-dozen samplers. The Beat Conductor is busy rolling up the dozier on a copy of the latest RE:UP manual, and I’m pestering him to talk about a slightly sore subject – his reclusive, possibly demented, partner in rhyme, Quasimoto.
As Quas moves on to his second album, the eagerly anticipated Further Adventures of Lord Quas, we get more of the stuff that made him so popular the first time around. He’s still the same old shit talking, badasssss creature rapping about women and weed. Quas is still Quas. And Madlib is still a genius with a sampler. After listening to an advance copy for about a week prior to this interview, I’m still discovering new stuff every time I put the disc in the changer. If anything, Further Adventures is even more complex than the first album, presenting a self-contained world in which samples speak to one another and interlay in the most obtuse ways.
“Have you ever made music ‘shrooming? It’s different.” As it turns out, Madlib is a man of few words. In this business you quickly learn that just because an artist is prolific with beats and rhymes, doesn’t mean they always have a lot to say on life. In the case of Madlib in particular, the music bumps for itself.
RE:UP Quas, you’re the Bad Character. Studies have shown that kids who watched too many episodes of Three’s Company turn out bad. Is that what happened to you?
LORD QUAS Too many episodes of The Wonder Years and ALF.
Today I’ve got an ace in the hole, or perhaps a wild card. Counting on the fact that obscure records are a lingua franca for Madlib, the Ill Loop Digga, I’ve brought along a friend, a colleague, and a man with such an infectious enthusiasm for records that only the heavily medicated can be in the same room with him without reacting to him – a local beat miner, record store guy, and DJ by the name of Willow. He’s a perfect counter to my plodding, methodical self.
And Willow cuts to the chase, eagerly digging in his bag and pulling out a copy of the sound track to the 1973 cult classic children’s film, The Fantastic Planet. Originally released in France under the title Le Planete Sauvage, the soundtrack is well known as a sample source for much of the first Quasimoto album, The Unseen. As Madlib licks a seal on his blunt, a glimmer of recognition flickers through his eyes when his gaze wanders over the blue-green cartoon aliens depicted on the cover. “I was watching that movie at the time. It was on Bravo or Independent Film Channel or some shit. I just flipped that shit on one night. Right when I turned to it the music was on and I was like, “What the fuck?” I just turned my VCR on and started recording that shit. ‘Come on Feet’ is from the visuals. I got a few tracks from that and [Peanut Butter] Wolf bought me the original album a little while later.”
Watching The Fantastic Planet, it’s easy to see how it could inspire you to work with an alien being who goes around smacking suckas with bricks. The Planet Fantastic is controlled by a race called the Traags, their society much like our human one, with a crucial difference: the Traags are giants on their planet and the human beings there are rodent-sized by comparison. In this world, humans are mere playthings in a psychadelic landscape, the victims of the same absent-minded tyranny that we reign over pets and wild animals.
“If I had seen that when I was small I would have been kind of frightened. And the music is ridiculous. That’s how I’d make a music if I was making a soundtrack.” The making of a lost classic?
Indeed. “I did a whole CD trying to recreate the soundtrack hip-hop style. But my man lost it. Like my master. I passed that out, and I don’t save my shit, my homeboy lost it. I was like damn man, that took me two days.” And so the beats were recreated for Lord Quas.
RE:UP Which is the favorite of your two albums, The Unseen or The Further Adventures?
LORD QUAS The third album.