Exceeding all other solo instrumental projects he's put out to this point, while his Konducta beat series is a hodgepodge of unbelievably exciting beats, Sound Ancestors is peaceful by comparison, a window into the music Madlib loves and is driven by. The hallmark of Madlib 's last five years has been his Piñata and Bandana albums with Freddie Gibbs . The projects were busy, soulful, talk-that-talk drug albums, and Madlib distinguished himself as the premier beat and taste maker in hip-hop.
Listening to music can be a way of making it. Few artists understand this better than Madlib. Across dozens of releases and nearly as many alter egos, the West Coast hip-hop producer, DJ, multi-instrumentalist, and de facto archivist born Otis Jackson Jr. has worked chiefly by flipping cherished records from his collection, inviting audiences to hear what he hears: the unique emotional texture of this particular vocal line, a saxophone solo distilled to its most elegant single bar.
Madlib's Sound Ancestors was assembled over the course of several years, as the visionary producer sent hundreds of unfinished beats and studio sessions to longtime friend Kieran Hebden (Four Tet), who edited and arranged them into an album meant as a stand-alone, start-to-finish listening experience. Though billed as a Madlib solo album, Hebden's sonic fingerprints are all over it, and it's sometimes reminiscent of downtempo Four Tet as well as the freewheeling collage styles of the Madlib Medicine Show, Beat Konducta, and Rock Konducta releases. Instead of focusing on a certain genre, location, or era, Sound Ancestors reflects the producer's wide-ranging influences, just as comfortably pulling from post-punk and psych-rock as from fusion and Brazilian jazz.