The Hip Hop Mortuary

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12:51 PM

Jaylib/Champion Sound

Posted by The Invisible Man

Jaylib - Champion Sound

J Dilla. Madlib. Seperately these two super producers have an extensive resume of proof that they know music. On the one hand, the late great Dilla over the years gained respect of a countless amount of musicians, mainstream and underground alike, a feat that is rarely accomplished these days. On the other, Madlib has been working practicly in seclusion under various alias' and seems to never stop releasing music under his own terms. Considering the staggering talent following close behind each of these artists; the expectations for this album are higher than Madlib's Quasimoto voice (another album worth reviewing at some point).

One thing to point out before starting the track by track rundown, this may be a collaboration, but with the exception of the first track and the two bonus tracks, Dilla and Madlib produce the beats by themselves. This wasn't sitting around and co-producing each song, but rather the two were sending beats and vocals back and forth between LA and Detroit.

1. LA to Detroit
This is just an intro, but it shows right off the bat that Dilla's thumping drums go well with Madlib's synthy bass and weird sounds.

2. McNasty Filth (ft. Frank-n-Dank)
The CD really starts here, and it starts with a Madlib banger. Frank-n-Dank aren't too lyrical but they get the job done and bring the energy needed to match the song.

3. Nowadayz
Another crazy beat, this time by Dilla. Already it seems that if you're not paying attention you could forget that these are two different producers. I think that's part of what makes this CD work. Even though they didn't work closely together, it still all flows really well. Madlib spits on this one, and it works in a sense of sounding alright and matching the beat, but he's definitely not a lyricist. The way I would describe Madlib as an MC is he keeps it interesting enough that you can listen and not be bored, but he doesn't take the attention away from the music. Not necessarily a bad thing.

4. Champion Sound
The title track is produced by Madlib and really keeps the momentum going. Like Madlib, Dilla isn't that great lyrically, but the way this album moves and keeps giving you crazy beats it almost doesn't give you time to think about the vocals other than asking whether they match the beat. Dilla can flow even if he's not saying much.

5. The Red
Despite the piercing guitar(?) loop presented by Dilla, this is one of the instances where the lyrics hinder the overall song. Luckily its only the first half of the song that has lyrics so if you want to just enjoy the beat you can.

6. Heavy
The title says it all, a heavy repetitive drum loop with Dilla's vocals mimicking the feeling.

7. Raw Shit (ft. Talib Kweli)
Probably one of the weaker beats on the CD, but Kweli helps this track out a lot. Madlib has the first verse and it's one of his more mediocre so you have to wait through that to get to Kweli, but it's worth it as the song jumps up a few notches once he gets on the mic.

8. The Official
Great beat. I don't think Dilla's voice matches over it so that kind of brings it down.

9. The Heist
This is a rare occasion when the beat is actually as average as the lyrics. Madlib tells a story but it really isn't interesting enough to listen closely to.

10. The Mission
This brings the album back to greatness with what worked before: top notch creative beats and minimal lyrics that just compliment the music. This track kind of feels like an interlude linking the first and second half of the album.

11. React ("ft." Quasimoto)
This is a real cool/trippy beat, fitting for Madlib's high pitched alter ego Quasimoto to show up. The vocal samples sound really good mixed in here too.

12. Strapped (ft. Guilty Simpson)
Another unique beat, and Guilty Simpson fits perfectly on this. This especially brings out one of the recurring feels of the album: a mix of grimy sounds and precise instruments. Detroit and Los Angeles. Two great things that shouldn't sound good together, but work anyway.

13. Strip Club ("ft." Quasimoto)
This is where Madlib works best, light hearted and funny descriptions of things like going to a strip club over an equally lighthearted beat. Nothing groundbreaking here, just fun.

14. The Exclusive (ft. Percee P)
The beat is really simple, so it puts the spotlight on the lyrics. Unfortunately, Percee P doesn't really deliver a good enough verse and instead this is just a throwaway track.

15. Survival Test
Madlib brings out a really vibrant sample, and Dilla does a good job only saying as much as he needs to on this.

16. Starz
Dilla follows up with his own gem of a sample, and Madlib's vocals aren't half bad either.

17. No Games
The proper final track of the album. Madlib brings in a really soulful sample and they end it with a track that keeps the quick pace but does it in a more low key fashion.

Raw Addict/Pillz
The two bonus tracks. Both of these are good Madlib tracks, bringing more of his humor and creativity. These are both great tracks but don't really fit anywhere in the album so they're perfect for bonus tracks.

There it is. Chances are, this will feel like a short CD as the music is easy to zone out to. As expected from an album made by two producers, the lyrics weren't great, but considering they only had a few guests they managed to turn in vocals that contributed a little to the incredible beats.
So did this meet the lofty expectations? I'd say that it's not necessarily what you would expect from hearing "Madlib and J Dilla collaboration", but it does keep the level of quality that the two have been working on for years. Sure, they could've brought a lyricist to do the tracks, but then it wouldn't have been a Madlib/Dilla collab but instead a Madlib/Dilla/____ CD. They also could've done an instrumental, but I think they use their voices almost as instruments more than lyrics.
I'm just giving a score to the main album, but a while back Stones Throw re-released the album as a 2 disc set with instrumentals and remixes, and that I highly recommend as even if you don't like the lyrics you can switch them out whenever.

0-20: Terrible listening experience
21-40: Maybe one good song
41-60: A few good songs
61-80: Half are good songs, half are weak
81-100: Great listening experience, almost all are great song

I give this album an 85.


THE JODY said...

To me, this was a dope album. The red and the official are songs you have to listen to turned up loud. I have never agreed with the notion that madlib and jay dilla aren't great emcees. To me, they are better than some rappers. Before this album came out, here in atlanta, they put out a promo cd called jaylib vs. jrocc/babu and it was the shit.

Champion sound rules

The Invisible Man said...

Thanks I might try and find that. And I agree that they're better then a lot of rappers. I guess because their production is so crazy I expect a little more from the performances on their beats...I still don't think they bring a lot of lyrical creativity to the table but sometimes complimenting the instrumental is the most important part of joining vocals and music...and not everyone needs to be Jay-Z on the mic to make something you can listen to over and over.

Anonymous said...

YOURE A DUMB ASS MOFO! DILLA isnt lrically????? Go over the books dude!

this album is an instant-classic!

Anonymous said...

8. The Official
Great beat. I don't think Dilla's voice matches over it so that kind of brings it down.

IS YOU CRAZY????!!!?

that track matches better than all the others on the album. great verses from dilla. even if hes not saying much about how to make it out the ghetto but HE IS FLOWING and RHYMING so sick. That matches 100%

Don't paint pictures from god!

Anonymous said...

Dilla and Madlib are better producers than lyricists. The album is very good.

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