The problem with producers who love Madlib is that they usually love Madlib a little too much. It’s important to keep a healthy separation from your idols, lest you end up imitating them. Madlib has influenced some of the next generation’s most creative minds, but like Dilla, he’s partially responsible for a generation of bedroom producers thinking that a loop jack was all it took to reign supreme. Not true. Splicing soul samples can be collage or alchemy, depending on the chop, the crates, and the kinetic energy of the drums.
Larry Gus loves Madlib. The Milan-based, Greek-raised producer has been making beat tapes for the last several years. I never heard a bad note, but they seemed slightly reverent. They were good, but rarely expanded beyond his most direct influence. This is no longer true. On his new free LP for the DFA imprint, Gus distills the entire saga of Madlib’s Medicine Show into a thirty-minute maelstrom of African samples, indie-pop riffs, house piano vamps, and esoteric percussion. There’s some prog guitar riffs, free jazz skronks, and soul samples thrown into the blender. What’s most striking is how seamless it feels.
Silent Congas is less an intellectual exercise than an attempt to make the whirling world stop — to distill a thousand ideas into something that sounds chaotic but surprising fluid. You’ll like it if you like Madlib, but it never feels superfluous. Effective medicine, recommended with a spoonful of Sativa.