Where jazz dots the horizon of his rap-centered work, I’ve always appreciated when Madlib went full-on jazz through the fictional group Yesterdays New Quintet and its made-up characters: Malik Flavors, Joe McDuphrey, Monk Hughes and Ahmad Miller. He creates different sounds for each: Where Malik is a vehicle for Madlib’s cosmic jazz excursions, Ahmad imparts heavy Latin grooves with polyrhythmic drums. Joe evokes Herbie’s early ‘70s electronic jazz-funk fusion, and Monk — through the album A Tribute To Brother Weldon — mixes drum-heavy backing tracks with willowy piano chords and faint synths — a slight recreation of what Wel crafted himself.
I followed a similar path to Marcus, both with Madlib and jazz music. I technically fell in love with Madlib twice via Zero 7’s Another Late Night compilation album. Two of his tracks were on it, under his alter egos Yesterdays New Quintet and Quasimoto. Except I didn’t know either of them were him. From there, the love of jazz manifested not only from Madlib but hip hop groups like A Tribe Called Quest—but hey, they’re all interlinked. The story resonated with me as someone who fell down a similar rabbit hole and it sounds like we came out much wiser and musically seasoned.