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Beat Konducta, Vol. 3 & 4: In India

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Album Review

As prolific as he is talented, producer extraordinaire Madlib moved east for his second Beat Konducta installment, In India. Unlike Vol. 1-2, which was themed around an imaginary film, Vol. 3-4 has no clear overarching purpose, and the 34 tracks connect to one another only because their samples were all taken from Indian records from the '70s and '80s. And it's here that Madlib's high output works both positively and negatively for him. On one hand, he's able to offer an extraordinary amount of different sounds all tabled around a unifying idea (the sitar, the tabla), from the very RZA-esque "Smoke Circles" to the percussive "Freeze" to the fuzzy, layered vocals of "Dancing Girls Theme." But he also relies almost solely on his own innate and insane amount of natural skill, without always thinking much about the finished product, too excited about the next thing he's going to create to even remember what he did a few minutes before, and this carelessness shows up now and again, weakening the overall effect of the record. Cuts like "Masala," "Another Getaway," "Dark Alley Incidental Music," and "The Rip Off (Scene 3)" seem hastily thrown together without much consideration for either the album as a whole or even the tracks themselves, a little too droney and atonal to do much more but loop around tiredly. Of course, this same kind of approach, this flexibility, can also produce some pretty great work, and fortunately most of Vol. 3-4: Beat Konducta in India falls into that category. "Accordion for Raj," for example, uses not only the title instrument, but also a nice, shaky MPC beat and an electric guitar to fill in the sound, "Onthatnewthing" plays with ascending and descending scales, while "(Variations)" is able to transition between two different musical ideas (as Madlib is wont to do) cleanly and appropriately (such is not the case, however, with "Main Title," whose lack of continuity is more annoying than anything else). The album's not without its weak points, that's to be sure, but it's still, overall, another interesting, and generally impressive, accomplishment from the master himself.


Born: 24 October 1973 in Oxnard, CA

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Describing himself as "a DJ first, producer second, and MC last," Madlib is one of the many aliases of Otis Jackson, Jr., who has become one of the most celebrated, prolific, and eclectic artists in hip-hop since emerging on the scene in the early '90s. Also known as Beat Konducta, Quasimoto, Malik Flavors, DJ Lord Such, and the Loopdiggaz, among his dozens of handles, the unique sound and feel of Madlib's work (created without computers, using old-school recording and sampling gear) has made him...
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Beat Konducta, Vol. 3 & 4: In India, Madlib
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