Describing himself as a “DJ first, producer second, and MC last”, Madlib has quietly become one of the most critically acclaimed artists in hip-hop since his start making music in the early 90s. As a part of Red Bull Music Academy Festival in New York City in May, the ellusive West Coast producer sat down for an interview with music journalist “Chairman” Jeff Mao. Giving his fans a rare opportunity to learn more about his life, upcoming productions, and musical inspirations Madlib spoke for some time in the English study designed set. Although Madlib’s answers were short and at sometimes sarcastic, we learned much about his personality and a few fun facts that a common fan might not have known. Here are 10 things that I learned about Madlib:
10) His primary sources of inspiration came from his parents, jazz culture, and the song “Rapper’s Delight” by the Sugar Hill Gang
Both of Madlib’s parents are musicians, and his Uncle is a well established trumpeter, but it wasn’t until he heard “Rapper’s Delight” that he was drawn into a career as a producer. “That was the first thing I heard where I was like, ‘Whoa.’ You take that beat and do something over it. I started collecting records after that, old records.”
9) Madlib sleeps about two hours a day; when he isn’t sleeping, he’s making beats.
He has such a relentless work ethic that his surges of creativity aren’t stopped by the lack of a full night’s rest. In the interview, he said that he’s “making music constantly, both at home and in the studio”.
8) Madlib has 20 tracks with MF DOOM ready to release.
“I’m not gonna lie. We got 20 tracks recorded, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to come out.”
7)He made himself a Prince tribute beat tape.
Madlib is a huge Prince fan, and in a nonchalant way, mentioned that he made a Prince beat tape to remember the legend. No one knows if it will ever be released, but his fans are trying hard to convince him to.
6) His Quasimoto project was influenced by Mushrooms
“[Quasitmoto] came about because I don’t like my voice”, Madlib shared. “When I rap they say I sound like Barry White, I had to do something to change my voice…I took my shrooms and bugged out and tried to think of something different. I never intended to put it out.” But it seems like the alias is now retired, “I don’t really like to rap no more, he got nothing to say.”
5) He made the “No More Parties in LA” beat on an iPad.
4) He has a studio in a Freemason castle.
After a fan asked, Madlib noted that he produces in a rented out castle designed and built by the Freemasons. Along with the idea of working in a castle, Madlib likes that fact it’s cost effective. “Half of my shits in there,” he confirmed.
3) Madlib has about 10 hours of recorded music with his idols, German rock collective Embryo.
Much like his tribute to Prince, Madlib pays great respect to his idols and those who have inspired and made him into what he is today.
2) He’ll make an entire album out of recorded samples.
From running on two hours of sleep a day to recording in a Freemason castle to save rent, Madlib works as efficiently as possible, which attributes to his great success.
“If I sample a song, I usually make samples out of the whole album. Then I move on after that. Doesn’t mean I’m going to release that whole album, but I do that.”
1) Madlib & Freddie Gibbs have been working on a new project called Bandana
“I heard [West and Gibbs] were battling back and forth over a couple of hours for the Beats CD’s. It was six CD’s. Freddie Gibbs took all of it and rapped over everything. Kanye waited too long. That’s the new Bandana joint — it’s about pimpin’, drug dealin’, killin’, realizing you shouldn’t be killin’. That type of stuff.” Kanye West & Freddie Gibbs then proceeded to fight over the beat tapes.