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Champion Sound (Stones Throw)

Teaming up rappers with other rappers is a fairly common thing, but producers collaborating with other producers doesn't happen every day. J-Dilla (Slum Village, A Tribe Called Quest, Common) and Madlib (Quasimoto, Yesterday's New Quintet, Dudley Perkins) have two distinctly different approaches, but their new collaboration could be just the pimp-slap hip-hop needs to get over its artistically challenged hump.

The juxtaposition of Madlib's unorthodox arrangements and J-Dilla's minimalist funk could have been like oil and water; instead, it's more like guacamole and chips. Champion Sound represents a historic meeting of two musically gifted minds, who reshape hip-hop's sonic landscape while giving a humorous, knowing nod to its familiar clichés. Dismissing "fake gangsters" while simultaneously upholding their own playa status, Jaylib gets crunk without getting ignorant.

The obvious downside of a production-driven album is that the music is much stronger than the lyrics. Madlib's helium-voiced alter ego, Quasimoto, is a gimmick best used sparingly, and J-Dilla is no threat to Eminem or even Royce da 5'9" on the mic. But who cares? It's all about the ill tracks, and Champion Sound will have the competition crying "Murderer!"

More by Eric K. Arnold


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