Album Review: Madlib – Medicine Show 1: Before The Verdict (2010)

Album Review: Madlib – Medicine Show 1: Before The Verdict (2010)
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 Potholes

It goes without saying that Madlib is one of the most creative minds in hip-hop, and with each new album you never know what new tricks he has up his sleeve. This sort of unexpected turn in Madlib’s music is both a gift and a curse (although generally much more of a gift). For Medicine Show 1: Before The Verdict Madlib digs through his archives to pull up some of his own remixes as well as new material. Some of the older material will likely be familiar to listeners; “Ode To The Ghetto” uses that eerie sample from Deltron 3030’s “Virus”, while “Life Goes By” recycles the beat from Madvillain’s “All Caps”. The problem with this type of compilation is that it comes off sounding like a hastily assembled mixtape, rather than a proper album. It also doesn’t help that the entire project operates on definite lo-fi levels. Intentional or not, the scrambled collection of assorted beats with a layer of fuzz obstructing the sound just doesn’t work in the album’s favor.

To be fair, some of the beats are tremendously enjoyable, and can more than hold their own as singles. The aforementioned beats from 3030 and Madvillainy are pleasant, but special attention is owed to the delicate keys and bells on “I Must Love You”, and the ironically inspirational, Rocky-inspired production of “American Dream & Future”. The majority of the tracks feature wordsmith Guilty Simpson, who is certainly a welcome addition to the album. He brings a grit that is a perfect complement to the loose construction of the album. Guilty comes with his expected hard-hitters such as “you better learn the game and know the ledge, the dudes around here put holes in heads,” on “Yikes”.

The collaboration of Madlib and Guilty on Medicine Show 1 is supposed to be a sort of a prelude to their upcoming project, OJ Simpson. Medicine Show 1 is also the first in a once-a-month, twelve-CD, six-LP series. In theory, all these albums should be strengthening Madlib’s reputation as a beat-maker, and they do because many of the beats are enticing pieces of music. However the sloppy compilation and lack of overall continuity impedes this album from becoming the success it could be.

29 thoughts on “Album Review: Madlib – Medicine Show 1: Before The Verdict (2010)

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  1. its from a indian record

  2. Does anyone know the original song sampled at the beginning of American Dream and Future?

  3. and its hilarious how music snob reviewers so often say Madlib’s shit sounds rushed. Did Monk or Miles Davis sound rushed? LOL

    he pretty much makes the music as he goes, thats how he does all his stuff… so for some to sound rushed and some not to is ridiculous. Madlib is as close to a improvising producer as there is.

  4. Andrew Martin… are you tripping out if you think Ruff Draft is raw. Its raw for Dilla… but it ain’t that raw. You really don’t know grass roots hiphop.

    and like the other poster said THIS IS A MIXTAPE lol

    Madlib makes shit for people who have tapes of rap, not indie music snobs. I wish he never put out that Quasimoto shit so you music faeries would have never jumped on the Madlib bandwagon.

    If you wanna her RAW then go find some of the old unreleased shit. Now THAT is raw. Brothers can’t see me!

  5. Thanks “g string” but i just found this song last night.. wish i had just check this site a month ago…
    but i have it on the “Peanut Butter Wolf’s Jukebox 45s”

  6. @TG – that track is called “Harlem River Drive interlude”. a cover madlib did playing all the instruments that was released on the stones throw 7 inch series…

  7. the problem i think is that the reviewer had the same reaction to the album as others did… they didn’t like the transitions between beats w/ Guilty Simpson on them and the strickly musical interludes that typically go in between the tracks w/ lyrics…

    i think a bigger issue is that many people in that 18-30 age category do tend to try and “attempt” at listening to new music, i think if you can truly say you branch out on musical taste, you certainly must have more patience in what it is you’re listening to.. many cds being released nowadays (and most on that ‘pop’ genre category that major record companies have created in order to generate, you guessed it, $ profit $;

    if you do listen to older records on any major labels you can definitely see trends because typically you can be sure that, bottomline in those scenarios, money comes first.

    IMO, the more you branch out musically, the more patient you’ll become in your music listening and therefore get to truly experience music more than the next guy…

  8. Does anyone know the name of the track at the end of “Young Guns?”

    the Jay dee sample where he says “move that G string out the way”

  9. verteBRae|

    What a rational comment, don! Thanks for the feedback!

  10. don cornelus|

    that shit is hot fire you are an idiot

  11. To me this album is pretty much the opposite of “Dull”. It plays like something between a movie and a bizarre radio show. Sometimes Madlib’s gone overboard with the interludes in my opinion, but here the interludes are more “a part of the record” than ever – there’s more of them, but they completely work.

    In the review it say, “hastily assembled mixtape, rather than a proper album”
    Well, yes, it’s a mixtape not an album. Duh!

    “the entire project operates on definite lo-fi levels”
    Madlib’s whole career operates on definite lo-fi levels, man! LOL if you dont like this about him, just stop there. He’s not Just Blaze.

  12. All I was saying is that I’ve HEARD that it’s dull. Also, yeah, I know how the Mind Fusion series went. Those weren’t exactly the most thrilling pieces either.

  13. @ Andrew Martin – The 2nd edition of the Medicine Show is dull? The 2nd edition is basically a MIX of Brazilian tunes, right? Not exactly “a Madlib album”. Why are you passing on hearsay? You know how the Mind Fusion set up went?

  14. Slightly off-topic, but I’m hearing the second edition of the Medicine Show is kinda dull.

  15. DG – Thanks for reading and for the comment. First of all, Madlib is extremely dope to me, and easily my favorite producer out right now. This album simply failed to reach the level of other Madlib efforts in my opinion. Second of all, there was a 5/5 given earlier this year to Brother Ali’s “Us.”

  16. *sigh* if madlib isnt dope to you guys, than idk what is.

    p.s. i have never seen potholesinmyblog rate an album “5 potholes”, if they did its probably some wack stuff

  17. Scratched Vinyl|

    Actually think that some of the skits r better than the actuall album. Agree with the reviewer

  18. Jimmy – You’re right; a lot of Madlib’s work is raw. But raw and too much static are two different elements. A beat or track can be very raw while still remaining clean. And I definitely recognize that being a once-a-month project means that these albums will be hurried to some extent. However, just because that’s the case, it doesn’t mean that these albums automatically get a pass for continuity. If it doesn’t hold up as a cohesive album, no matter how great some individual tracks are (which you’re also right, there are many head-nodders on here) it’s still not a cohesive album. All in all, Madlib likely achieved what he was aiming for, as you said, to give fans something entertaining to hold us over. But it still fell short of other Madlib projects. Appreciate the feedback and comments.

  19. jimmy infamous|

    Zach- I think the gritty aspects of this “album” is the idea. If you know Madlib, you know that a lot of the stuff he comes out with is raw. Besides, if this is part of a once-a-month release before the OJ Simpson project, than why would he spend so much time on each one-a-month album? Sometimes arists’ releases aren’t necessarily geared to have such cohesiveness with each song that’s produced and presented on a given release–you could look at it as Madlib merely wanted to release a gritty and raw release with no intention or need for any type of intellectual stimuli…he wants to entertain us by releasing some stuff to nod our heads to.

  20. V- Thanks for the comment. Like I said, many of the tracks work well individually, but the album as a whole didn’t come together well. The compilation vibe is cool, and I love what Stones Throw is trying to do, but this album came out feeling much like a hurried mixtape. Love the beats, love (many of) the rhymes, didn’t love the album.

  21. I listened to this cd once and I wasnt sure, then after 2 very good listenings I think this may be one of Madlibs most original insites to his music and Guilty Simpsons flows compliment Madlibs production. Yes I think this is my favorite of Madlibs recent work since Madvillany 2.

  22. David Amidon|

    I liked this album more than you, being a homer, but I do see your points. I definitely think that Stones Throw is pushing Ode to the Ghetto harder than they should be; Oh No just had a similar remix project for Stones Throw Library last year. In fact, that remix project was for sure doper than this one.

    Also, thanks for pointing out some of the sample connections, I’m horrible at that but love seeing it in effect.

  23. Bullshit!! The album’s raw. Motherfuckers wanna hear fantastic vol. 2 and unseen over and over again. Evolve motherfuckers…Evolve….

  24. Yeah I have to agree, Madlib is absolutely one of my favorite producers around, perhaps my number one. But here, the album just seems rushed, and comes off feeling like a mixtape rather than a complete album.

  25. I think Madlib is amazing. His greatest fault seems to be releasing too much music… Sometimes I wish he would step the quality up of some projects and just not release others. He is an amazing artist though and is so prolific its amazing. Sometimes the labels push to release these things as well….. I guess you never know.

  26. you guys must prefer that processed, formula shit. i loved this record. shit’s like a carnival side show. listened to it more times than Guilty Simpson’s album already.

  27. Headpiece – Like I said, many of Madlib’s beats are very nice. However the album as a whole just doesn’t come together well. Good for you for supporting Madlib though, he’s a more than deserving artist.

  28. Hate to say this but I really hope you guys are wrong. I will still buy the album on the strength of Madlib and his beatmaking skills. I almost didn’t read the review because you gave Madlib two potholes.

  29. Completely agree with you on this one, Zach. This fell apart for me toward the middle and never really looked back. It was far too monotonous and raw to a fault. I can appreciate that it was meant to be a throwback to those gritty cassette tape mixtapes, but so was Dilla’s Ruff Draft. And that EP was still raw without being a sloppy mess.

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