Record Review

Phases and Stages


Madvillainy (Stones Throw) A vibraphone sample morphed into shards, drum kicks smeared across cinematic memories, and clanging guitar patterned in its conjecture all coalesce as Metal Face quips "you heard it on the radio, tape it, play it in your stereo, your crew will go ape-shit." Madlib and MF Doom split personalities with the sweeping precision of "a real butterball: Either I get a strike or strike out, gutter ball." As Madlib throws on the skins of Weldon Irvine, Jaco Pastorius, and Sun Ra by way of his SP1200 reanimation device, MF Doom ushers in the diabolical ceremony with uncanny postulates such as "it's too hot to handle, you got beef sandals." Clandestine, sinister, otherworldly, "known to smoke a whole mountain of hash to the ash," Madvillainy is a gutbucket jazz quintet's comic-book nightmare come to life. Not only does it capture the unstructured verse of a masked maniac within a sheer net of plausibility, it parades his inner dementia among instrumental adornments of the highest order. As the playfulness of "America's Most Blunted" provides only a fraction of the story, "Fancy Clown" clings to the album's dissonant underbelly with ulcerated thoughts of "I gave up the skirt, now I gotta hear from the street, how dare you drag my name in the dirt and cheat." While "Strange Ways" considers why "some will go of their own free will to die, others take them with you when they blow sky high," "Great Day Today" settles on the hope that you "get it like a whooping when you holler at your seniors." Putting the challenge back in hip-hop, Madvillainy musically dares you to "slip like Freudian, the first and last step to playing yourself like accordion."


A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Music Reviews
Texas Platters
Ben Buck
Kilroy (Record Review)

Derek Udensi, Feb. 21, 2020

Fall Platters
Quin NFN
4NUN (Record Review)

Derek Udensi, Nov. 29, 2019

More by Robert Gabriel
KJ Hines
KJ Hines
Prince of the City

April 27, 2007

Play the Role
Play the Role
Bavu Blakes is not afraid

April 27, 2007

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle