Madlib is more welcome to interviews these days but in 2005, they were a rarity.
I can’t let a Madlib interview pass me by without saving it somewhere. Sometimes I scope them out for inspiration. On my travels, I found one via Stones Throw. It was an interview by Scratch Magazine and tells the same kind of opening story we get from most Madlib interviews: he’s enigmatic and reserved.
This one came just a year after Madvillainy but it only got a couple of references. This was about Madlib as an artist. He touched on his moment in breakbeat as DJ Rels:
I made that DJ Rels broken beat stuff after going to the Co-Op club in London and connecting with those cats over there. I didn’t know too much about that scene, but the music is like some advanced Herbie Hancock shit. It’s still got those jazzy keys, but it’s updated. That’s why I liked it. Beats all broken and shit! Paul Jackson [from the Headhunters] probably started that!
His comfort with samplers:
Just these little box machines, like the (Roland SP) 606 and the (Boss SP) 303. I like the 606, ’cause it has a gang of effects on it. I like an MPC too, but these are so easy to just turn on and use. The only thing I did on the MPC is the De La shit (“Shopping Bags”).
I like to move quickly, and these little boxes are easy to use. I can be up in my hotel room in a different city, and just hook up beats right there. I don’t like to spend more than 10 minutes at a time on a beat. I get bored and have to move on to the next thing. I’m not like Dre; I don’t take a week on a snare. Maybe I should, though!
And his way with samples:
I learned that from the old DJ Quik Tree Top (Compton Bloods) tapes, where he’d just throw a record on and rap to the whole shit. Like how Ghostface did on “Holla.” I like shit like that. The beat’s right there, just freak it.
Half the time, I’ll just use a loop. Just add some 808 (kicks) or something. Sometimes people find dope-ass loops and fuck ’em up by trying to put too much shit into it. Sometimes you don’t have to do anything-shit’s complete as is. You add something to it and it fucks it up.
Madlib has never been one for flim-flam and that’s one of his best qualities. Whatever he says or does is what he means at the time. His style is his style and nobody else’s. Influences pass through but his music remains Madlibcentric.