By J Meagher | April 29th, 2010
Dub is the perfect summer companion. Often meandering and directionless, dub follows a feeling to the point of exhaustion, switches it up, and then does it again. I turn to dub when I feel tired of hearing music that sounds like it was painful to make. Dub is not in the details but in the big picture. This feeling is perfectly captured in a three-piece set of free podcasts produced for Ropeadope (a seriously serious record label/music promoter/cool shit poster) by a dude named “Dirty Drummer”. They can be found here, here, and here. But the focus of this post is obviously the next stop on Madlib’s Medicine Show tour, “420 Chalice All-Stars”.
So what can you expect from a mix-tape with source material that is a little more familiar than obscure Brazilian psychedelic cuts? In short this is great introduction to dub for people who haven’t explored much farther than my holy trinity of reggae heroes: Marley (thanks Amy!), Toot’s and the Maytals (thanks Adam!), and Jimmy Cliff (thanks Brenden!). For newbies this is where you decide whether you want more from reggae culture than Marley and ummm…medicinal supplements. Dub and non-mainstream reggae is not the easiest genre to become an aficionado of. There aren’t too many memorable hooks, the lyrics are sometimes hard to understand, if you do understand them they don’t always mean much, and a lot of dub sounds the same. But like I said before, dub is about feeling and movement; “420 Chalice All-Stars” is no different.
It has to be said that this superbly produced. With good headphones on it is hard to believe that most of this stuff was pulled off old, poorly pressed, vinyl. Each track contains several cuts from different songs and it’s damned impressive that Madlib can create any type of uniformity in terms of quality. The bass is low n crisp, and the snares and keyboard vamps are piercing. It’s hard to pick out a single track as they flow so effortlessly together and that this music really wasn’t made with commerciality in mind. But give the one I selected a shot, download the podcasts mentioned above if you like it, and get ready for the summer.
I’d also just like to make another point about the prolific-ness of Madlib. The first four releases of the Medicine Show combine for about 5 hours of playtime. You would have to play Vampire Weekend’s “Contra” over EIGHT times to equal the length of first four releases in the “Medicine Show” series. I don’t think that actually means anything, but it’s interesting to think about.