Here in 2013, if you know about Madlib then you know all about Quasimoto, the blunted-and-brilliant producer’s helium-voiced, delinquent alter ego. And if you don’t…well, surprisingly, this new collection of 12 rare and previously unreleased Lord Quas tracks is actually a pretty good introduction. The idea that it took the tireless Beat Konducta 12 years to release this dirty dozen is laughable; it’s like Sam Jackson quitting the acting game to cobble shoes for a decade in between roles.
See, I have this recurring dream. It’s summer in the city. The air hangs heavy and lingers over the baking asphalt, as children run through fire hydrant rain. There’s a fruit stand on the corner, and as I get closer, the Fruit Man1 opens a door hidden behind the watermelons and leads me down into the radio-static din of a speakeasy2.
Back in April, Madlib let slip some info of a test pressing for the forthcoming Quasimoto album Yessir Whatever on his Instagram and Facebook with no further comment. Bloggers and fans went nuts: as prolific as Madlib's traditionally been, the last true Quasimoto album The Further Adventures of Lord Quas was released eight years ago, and something about that pranksterish mushroom-fueled split-personality vibe was still in high demand. Once it became clear that Yessir Whatever was actually going to be a compilation of rare and unreleased Quasimoto material and early experiments, anticipation simmered down a bit, but hey, old Quas is better than no Quas, right? Right.
It’s no secret that Madlib is a workhorse. Whether it’s under Madlib, Quasimoto, Beat Konducta, or Yesterday’s New Quintet, the guy is always making music. Good music at that. Some would say that his passion for beat making is obsessive, but who could complain when he is constantly supplying our ears with fantastic music? Yessir Whatever is the third entry in Madlib’s deviant project under the Quasimoto pseudonym.
With his high-pitched voice, his weird, smart-ass stance, and his preference to conversate with others rather than just rap, producer/rapper Madlib's alter-ego Quasimoto has always seemed the little-brother of the Parliament-Funkadelic character, Sir Nose D’Voidoffunk. Previous albums walked this character through a landscape of shrooms, weed, and chopped-up jazz-funk that were some of the most cherished beats in the Madlib catalog, and with these strange, mothership connections all strung together in a sensible style, this animated, snout-nosed smoker has some bona fide classics in his back catalog, making this merely good set look like a serious drop-off. Yessir Whatever suffers from being disjointed and a bit too much like a sketchbook, but the album is pulled together from 12 years of archival recordings, some of them previously released on rare comps and out-of-print vinyl.
In 2000, L.A. rapper-producer Madlib recorded a psychedelic hip-hop masterwork, The Unseen, released as Quasimoto and reportedly cut during a week of psilocybin mushroom snarfing. The third Quasimoto LP is a jumble of rare and unreleased tracks but still a fine stoner-rap set; Madlib raps in a cartoony, high-pitched voice and a blunted monotone, creating a warped conversation with himself over beats that suggest a warmly twisted Cali vision of vintage Native Tongues hip-hop.
Oxnard, CA beat sensei Madlib is hip-hop's most prolific enigma; amongst his experimental projects, the oddest persona has to be Quasimoto. The bad character allegedly came to life during a weekend lost to psilocybin mushrooms. Quasimoto is just Madlib's voice sped up to a squirrel pitch, gabbing about blunts, broads and catchin' wreck. It's been eight years since the last Quasimoto album, so odds-and-sods collection Yessir Whatever is a welcome return to trippy form.
Its been a good eight years since Madlib’s animated alter ego Quasimoto checked in with 2005’s The Further Adventures of Lord Quas. But absence has indeed made the hip-hop heart grow fonder for the famed West Coast producer’s pigfaced, helium-voiced nom de plume, so much that even a collection of odds and ends spanning the 20 years of Quas’ existence is cause for applause. 12 songs clocking in at (TK) minutes, Yessir Whatever maintains the feel of a proper full-length despite its patchwork origins, however.