The Madlib Mystique – An exclusive interview with underground hip-hop’s most elusive producer, written by Jeff Weiss, and published in LA Weekly, June 24, 2010.
Madlib is nowhere to be found. Peanut Butter Wolf, the head of his label, Stones Throw, doesn’t know where he is. Despite repeated phone calls, Eothen (Egon) Alapatt, the imprint’s general manager, hasn’t heard back in 48 hours. J. Rocc, one of his best friends, is baffled too. They were supposed to have gone record shopping yesterday, but “shit came up.” Currently, Madlib is missing the rare interview appointment, but the unexpected is expected. So long as he turns up around Memorial Day, a few hours before his flight to Copenhagen for a potential collaboration four days from now, no one’s about to put out an Amber Alert.
After all, it might not be clear who to look for. There’s Otis Jackson Jr., the government name of the Oxnard-born “Beat Konducta,” a man so enigmatic and elusive his own brother gave him the alias “Hollow Man.” You could check for one of the members of his fictional jazz ensemble, Yesterdays New Quintet: Ahmad Miller, Monk Hughes, Malik Flavors or Joe McDuphrey. Or maybe you’d inquire about Quasimoto, his helium-voiced, psilocybin-propelled alter ego. Of course, Lord Quas couldn’t keep clandestine long — he’s loud, prone to branding himself “America’s Most Blunted,” and the only person Madlib claims he doesn’t get along with. But they do share one thing — like Quasimoto’s debut-album title, they are “the unseen.”
Speculating on Madlib’s whereabouts is futile. Forget Twitter — he doesn’t even use e-mail. The interstellar infinity of his music indicates liberation from the limitations of gravity and time. Granted, he exists as blood and marrow: two children, lives in a real home in Eagle Rock, and the Gregorian Calendar claims that he’s 36. However, he is best understood as myth. In a society with a vampiric lust for information, our primitive neuroprocessors still compute in archetypes. Madlib is the man who wears masks, the witch doctor, the star of the medicine show.
It’s possible that the absence is due to personal business, or to something wholly pedestrian. But it’s unwise to rule out the possibility that he’s been abducted and is currently circling the constellations like his jazz analogue Sun Ra, or washing dishes in the same speakeasy where Malcolm X waited tables (if you’re to believe his official Stones Throw bio). Most likely, he’ll emerge from this fugue with several finished albums, several more finished blunts and without an explanation for his adventures. But no explanation is needed. We’re dealing with Madlib and when you’re dealing with Madlib, you quickly realize that you’re going to have to fill in the blanks.
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