Madvillain - Madvillainy
Released: March 24, 2004
You can hear DOOM in so many of today's rappers, and none of them are ashamed to admit that the masked villain is an influence. With Madlib handling production, Madvillainy is a prime example of how to do things on your own terms. There was always a gap between "underground" hip-hop and mainstream, but Madvillainy lived in world separate from both of those. Madlib dug for jazzy, obscure samples, never polishing them up or adding too much muscle, and DOOM rapped like he was born in the pages of a comic book, technically sound but unconcerned with flash.
So much of the hip-hop of 2004 ("Tipsy," "Lean Back," "Drop It Like It's Hot") feels forever stuck in 2004. They were huge singles, but the styles have changed and the songs remain remnants of the past, things that we'll forever hear and think, "Ah yeah, I remember listening to that while I was..." Madvillainy doesn't feel like that. It feels like a classic, and when you listen to some of today's rising talent (like Earl Sweatshirt, Mac Miller, and Rejjie Snow) you can hear that Madvillainy vibe, and it doesn't sound like 2004.
It was DOOM and Madlib making what they wanted to make, and if they made that same exact album today, it would sound just as special, just as relevant, and in 10 more years if we looked back on it, it would probably be just as influential.
Maybe that's the thing—while others capitalized off the styles of the moment, DOOM and Madlib made up their own. They weren't trendy, vintage, or ahead of their time. They were simply separate. It was DOOM and Madlib making what they wanted to make, and if they made that same exact album today, it would sound just as special, just as relevant, and in 10 more years if we looked back on it, it would probably be just as influential.