MADLIB spinning as part of the STONES THROW SOUNDSYSTEM with DJ EGON, Peanut Butter WOlF, DJ SERIOUS, DEE JAY NAV and KOLA at Revival (783 College West), Friday (May 3), 10 pm. $15 advance. 416-535-7888. www.expansions.ca
More than just a charismatic rapper with Lootpack and the high-pitched voice of Quasimoto, Otis Jackson Jr., aka Madlib, is among the hottest young production talents in contemporary urban music yet to score a chart hit.
For the moment, Madlib enjoys his relatively low profile while continuing to work non-stop on the many remix jobs streaming his way -- he just tweaked tracks by Glenn Lewis, Slum Village and Zero 7 -- in between compiling collections of funky joints from the Blue Note and Trojan vaults. That's when he's not playing all the instruments on yet another studio recording by Yesterday's New Quintet.
But you may not get to hear it for five years or so, because once the Stones Throw label releases YNQ's just-mastered Stevie disc -- an homage to the music of Stevie Wonder -- the insanely prolific Madlib has "about 30 albums" waiting in the queue.
"I get up in the morning and I'm in the studio every day, working on music from 9 to 5," explains Madlib between puffs in a dimly lit office on Queen East. "Wait a minute, make that 9 to 9. I can have a track done in an hour, so a whole album might take me a couple of days."
When you consider that Madlib only taught himself to play a Fender Rhodes electric piano two years ago, you realize that his musical technique is just as amazing as his studio proficiency.
Evidently, he was paying attention when his father, West Coast soul singer Otis Jackson Sr. (of Messenger To The Ghetto fame) brought him along to H.B. Barnum recording sessions back in the day.
"My father was definitely an influence on my musical taste. Actually, both my parents were. They'd play records constantly around the house when I was growing up -- jazz, blues, funk, soul, rock, everything. Even when they were arguing, they'd stop to flip over a 45 before continuing."
Madlib's eclecticism comes through in his DJ sets, where he jumps unselfconsciously from hard soul to old-school hiphop to jazz fusion right through to dub reggae and rock steady.
"I just like to play the stuff I listen to at home -- you know, things you won't regularly hear in a club. If that sounds selfish, I'm sorry, but that's what you get. I'll never change."