Many know, and no one will dispute, that Madlib happens to be one of the greatest hip-hop producers of all time. Hailed as a living legend with the rare gift of god-like production; the Californian beat-maker has been running rings around all the others in the hip-hop scene for years. Having worked closely with the likes of J Dilla, Kanye West and Freddie Gibbs, the illustrious DJ certainly isn’t afraid of playing with the big hitters. Madlib has released a proud nine solo albums and thirteen collaborative albums throughout his career, and he’s still going strong. Not many people in the music have managed to be so prominent yet elusive at the same time. Madlib has spent his career under more aliases then anyone could imagine. While most know him as Madlib, the ambiguous architect has frequently chopped and changed his title. Some on the list include Quasimoto, Madvillain, Loopdigga, Jaylib, Ahmed Millar and Jackson Conti. Each one of these pseudonyms relates to the collaborative artist, however, one of the collaborations I haven’t mentioned is that with native New-Yorker, Kazi. Together the two created ‘Blackmarket Seminar’ in 1996 and it featured what I think, is one of the rawest and best hip-hop beats in history.
That beat is ‘A.V.E.R.A.G.E’, a far from average track with still one of the finest uses of sampling and beat making you will ever hear. This gem is honestly one of the finer specimens in hip-hop history and any serious fan of the genre will instantly grin and nod in appreciation upon hearing. ‘A.V.E.R.A.G.E’ is the last track on the album but certainly isn’t the least. To compose the beat, the majestic Madlib samples the 1970 hit ‘I Wish I Knew’ by Jimmy Scott and turns it into one of the most chilling instrumentals of the past decade. The ice-cold beat is enough to send shivers up anyone’s spine. The frosty nature of the track has developed somewhat of a minor cult following over the years and not-so-familiar Kazi’s lyrics are now something a lot of hip-hop heads know all too well. Both Kazi and Madlib benefited greatly from this track as it featured on separate releases. Aside from the ’96 album ‘Blackmarket Seminar’, which was later reissued in 2014, the track and instrumental feature on Kazi’s 2000 release ‘Down For The Kaz’ which was issued on Stones Throw Records, one of the major players in Madlib’s career.
For me, this is one of the standout instrumentals in my time as a life-long hip-hop fan. It is equally as haunting as it is addictive. The way the original sample has been chopped and chewed leaves the listener in awe and craving for more. This really is one of the finer gems of Madlib’s discography. Give this track the respect it deserves and divulge into some serious beat-making mastery.
Listen & enjoy here –