Madvillain featuring MF DOOm & MadLib with Jaylib , DJ EGON and Peanut Butter Wolf at Revival (783 College), Wednesday (April 7), 9 pm doors. $22.50. 416-535-7888. Rating: NNNNN
It's no coincidence that the two most exciting underground hiphop studio collabos in recent memory - Madvillain and Jaylib - have Otis Jackson Jr., aka Madlib, in common. A supremely talented musician and rapper whose production skills are matched by his beat-digging savvy, Madlib sought out similarly gifted conspirators with a sense of adventure.
Circumventing the usual route through managers and agents, he simply sent some beats to imposing rhyme ripper MF Doom (aka KMD's Zev Luv X) and then forwarded to Jay Dee his own rhymes recorded over instrumental joints created by the iconoclastic Detroit-based producer. Both recognized Madlib as a fellow forward-looking hiphop outsider determined to cut his own path.
The resulting recordings released by the Stones Throw label - Madvillainy from the MF Doom and Madlib project Madvillain, and Champion Sound from the Jaylib pairing of Jay Dee and Madlib - can be seen as two sides of the same Madlib coin.
"It's not like I can work with just anybody," explains Madlib between beats at his Los Angeles studio, "but Doom and I had this immediate connection, just like it was with me and Jay Dee. We share a certain mentality, a feeling about music and an attitude.
"We also have a similar work ethic where we're always doing stuff - just trying new things. And we're drinking buddies, too. You know, heh heh, we all like to get our drink on."
According to MF Doom, reached at his Atlanta crib, the feeling is mutual.
"Being in the studio with Madlib is like working with a brother," he says. "We've got a lot of similar influences and interests, so we just clicked right from the start.
"I think we were both so inspired by each other's work that when it came time to record, we wanted to come up with our very best shit."
Evidently, the Internet leak of an early version of the Madvillain collaboration provided further inspiration for MF Doom.
"When people started talking about having the finished Madvillain album that we hadn't completed, I rewrote some stuff, created some other songs and went back in studio. I think we came up with an even better record because of the leak."
We'll get a rare opportunity to see how MF Doom and Madlib connect in person when the dynamic Madvillain duo appears at Revival Wednesday (April 7). Billed as a release party for the Madvillainy (Stones Throw) album, the evening may be bumped up to legendary event status when Jay Dee magically appears.
"I've never been to Toronto before," says MF Doom, "so I'm really looking forward to this show, especially if Jay Dee is gonna be there, too. Oh man, Jay Dee and Madlib? Those cats are gonna tear the place up! That's just the kind of boost I need to step up my game."