It's Monday morning, we're feeling nostalgic, we're doing a throwback run through of one of the most underrated and influential collaborative albums (in my opinion). Let's get in to it.
The heavyweight collaboration between Alt / Underground Raps two biggest producers should have brought more fan fair from it's release back in 2003. J Dilla, Hip-Hop's producer supreme, a man who single handedly change the rap game and influenced millions of musicians before and after his untimely passing in 2006. Madlib, a man who sits alongside Dilla on Hip/Hop's Mount Rushmore, From his work with Lootpack, to his solo releases as Quasimoto, and his collaboration with MF DOOM on Madvillain. Throw these two in as a producer / rapper tag-team and you've got the winning combo for a timeless classic right? To some, apparently not.
Back in '03 Champion Sound wasn't as well received as it could have been, if released 10 years later. Critics enjoyed the Idea, the narrative, the beats but the lyrical content of both Madlib and Dilla left a lot to be desired by the music press. Don't get me wrong, we're trying to kid you in to thinking either of the artists had reinvented the wheel of rap, they talk about Women, Drinking, Money and Weed. A lot. Possibly on every track. Again, It ain't C.R.E.A.M, but did anyone really expect it to be that?
Straight away from the first Track 'L.A. to Detroit' you get the token Dilla airhorn, leading in to the command to 'Clap your hands to what he's doing' familiar to regular Dilla fans as featuring on a plethora of his recordings, Usually followed by seismic rumble of programmed bass. This track serves as a precursor of what to come.
Straight off the intro we find ourselves in the club (trademark 50 Cent) with a 40 and a blunt on 'Mcnasty Filth'. The track serves as the most uptempo of the album, a true party anthem, showing it's intentions rather quickly with it's calls of 'We are in this Mutha F**** / We are in this Mutha F****'. Dilla Collaborators Frank-N-Dank provide back up verses filled with out dated pop culture references 'You need to put your hands up is what need to do / plus N***** got game like the PS2'. It's an ignorant blast.
The title Track 'Champion Sound' Produced by Madlib serves as a window in to Madlib's early take on production, as well as his ability to splice samples from world music in to his hip/hop production, something he would touch upon on his series of Beat Konducta tapes, and production for artists like Mos Def. Soaring female vocals sit next to rastafari calls, and a compressed, frantic drum rhythm.
Stand out track on the album is the original cut of 'The Red', a song that had to be re-recorded after the female choral sampled in the original beat was not cleared fully. The rerecorded version is still a well produced Dilla beat, but not a patch on the orignal with it's bass swells and piano melody. (You may recognise the song as being used on the 02 mobile pool party advert from a number of years ago. Crazy EH?)
A constant level of foot tappers follow till the end of the album, Dilla, Madlib and his alter ego Quasimoto trading verses over literary of hard beats. Songs like 'Strip Club', 'The Exclusive' (featuring a guns blazing verse from Percy P), 'Survival Test' and 'Starz' find the duo keeping a certain rap level of consistency heady till the end of the tape. Album closer No Games is a soul filled jam reaffirming their stance that they're top dog amongst their producer/rapper peers.
Regardless of whether they break any new ground, if it really registers that highly in each other's discography, it's still a project yet to be emulated by another duo of Mc/Producers, and laid the ground works for a lot of underground projects to follow. Had this been released in a Post Madvillain/Donuts world, maybe it would be regarded higher.