Quasimoto – The Unseen

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1. Love the opening skit. For example, it’s how the narrator (from the film, Faster, Pussy! Kill! Kill!) emphasizes the word “plethora,” as if he was too stoned to show up to that one grade 12 class where you realized that it wasn’t a smart word to use because everyone else had used it in their own essays, “Violence cloaks itself in a PLETHORA of disguises.” And yeah, we can pigeonhole this thing to a product of marijuana for you to smoke marijuana to, but the fact is Madlib loads the album with so many tiny details. For example, he could’ve just let the line, “Its favorite mantle still remains: sex,” and that would’ve been enough in anyone else’s hands, but no, Madlib echoes that word again and again, because it’s not just on violence’s mind, it’s on the narrator’s as well.

2. The clipped drumming opens the first actual track on the album to a great note. Notice how “Brick” is the first word to have an overdub, drawing your attention to it, not to mention the fact that the bass hits twice instead of once, “I’ll smack a nigga with a BRICK.” And I like how he saves the ridiculous “Oh shit he’s dead” bit for the more ridiculous line, “I walk around the streets passing out poisoned apples,” when he could’ve just as easily used it for the brick one. Lastly, I love the ridiculousness of the outro, where Quasimoto suddenly adopts a Chinese accent for the last instance of the title’s words.

3. Love the lounge-y introduction. It’s no secret that you should be listening to a Madlib album for its beats and that his alter-ego Quasimoto isn’t the best of rappers (I wouldn’t mind his recreating the word “Metamorphosis” into “Metamorphis” on “Bad Character” if it made any sort of sense with the rest of the line instead of just a rhyme-for-rhyme’s sake and to fit the flow). That being said, “It’s Lord Quas droppin’ shit like some horses / Imitating your mindstate have you split like divorces, of courses” is the best couplet of the album.

4. In my initial playthrough of the album, I instantly fell in love with tracks 2-4. Each of them having some of the best hooks on the album probably didn’t hurt. Anyway, we’ll hear a sample of Common using the line in “I Used to Love H.E.R.” later on the album (the last track, to be exact), but it’s an absolute pleasure to hear “Yes, yes, y’all, to the beat, y’all” from Quasimoto’s heliumed voice.

5. I love how Madlib throws away the introducing beat of “Goodmorning Sunshine” almost immediately; anyone else would’ve made a full song out of it, it’s just that good. It’s no big loss, though, since the bass line carries the rest of the track just fine.

6. ”Discipline 99 Pt. 0” is all about the way that chord comes in and slashes the bass that was trying to build to something.

7. From Pitchfork’s Peter Macia’s review of the album, “We all know profanity is crass, violence a nuisance, and misogyny quite boring, but dude, his voice sounds funny when he says it.” With respect, it’s not just what he says, but rather how he says it. For example, it’s the way Quasimoto pauses ever-so-slightly and thereby emphasizes the rest of the phrase in the couplet, “The Police pulling us over for no reason / Searching the car…like it’s nigga hunting season!” Second best couplet of the album.

8. I’m sure most people here on a site like this would appreciate the skit between Quasimoto and Madlib in the middle of the track whereupon Madlib can’t find any of the obscure records he wants from Quasimoto’s store. The song itself is divided into two parts; the first half sports a great hook, especially the comical way Quasimoto says “My nigga!” The second half is Madlib’s show, but what’s really funny is how much is invested in building the act up; Quasimoto’s lines, “I want you to hit them with that raw shit right about now / You know what you gotta do,” and Madlib coming in with a just-as-lethargic rap as the rest of the album. Beat’s great, though.

9. ”Real Eyes” is all about that flute sample.

10. Dreary psychedelia in the keyboards. The “COME ON FEET” sample has an urgency that the rest of the album never touches on ever again; especially in the way Madlib scratches it in the last occurrence before the first verse enters, such that it sounds like he’s literally gasping for air, “COME ON / FEET!”

11. ”Bluffin” is all about that piano line. Probably would’ve been better if it were Donuts-fied, as in, had its running time slashed in half and the vocals removed, but I’m not complaining.

12. ”Boom Music” is all about the brief keyboard melody during the verses.

13. ”MHB’s” is all about the soulful beat. Which is interesting for a song about money-hungry bitches.

14. Nothing to say about “Put a Curse on You,” other than pointing out that the drips-as-percussion thing is something we heard in the previous track.

15. People will later praise Madvillainy for its use of short tracks, but they ought to look here first (I’m sure you’d probably be able to point out a hip-hop release with an abundance of short tracks that predates this one, but ask yourself if it’s as good before you shoot me a private message). That being said, “Astro Black” is one of three tracks on the album that breaks past the 3-minute mark. It’s also my least favorite of those three.

16. ”You make enough cheese you could be my main boo / Smile (if you know what’s good for you)” deserves a shoutout because it’s one of the few double entendres on the album. Most other producers would’ve made the constantly cut-up beat sound nauseating, but here, it works, somehow. Also, “I wrote the shortest jazz poem ever heard, not about huggin’ or kissin’, just one word: listen!” is a great way to open the next track.

17. I know other people might have a fondness to hear their favorite jazz acts namedropped on “Jazz Cats Pt. 1” (basically everyone you’ve heard and never heard of is here, except for that one guy who did that album about the color blue and made a brew out of bitches, but he’s mentioned elsewhere, so no one should be offended), but it’d have been infinitely better if it were done so in some sort of cohesive narrative. Beat’s gorgeous, though.

18. Like “Return of the Loop Digga,” “24-7” could’ve been split into multiple tracks; the fact that Madlib throws a vocal sample to punctuate Quasimoto/his own verse is another example of a detail that he didn’t need to do (it’s absent for MED’s verse). Anyway, I think Madlib must’ve figured out afterwards the redundancy of “THE ELLOOP DIGGA” so he throws in a “WHAT” sample right after—hilarious.

19. ”QUASIMOTO’S GOT SO MUCH SOUL / NIGGAS BE LIKE ‘YO!’”—hilarious. The title track is probably the fullest sounding track on the album; the first half has a melodic keyboard line running parallel to a continually cut up vocal sample. There’s a beat switch halfway through like previously talked about tracks, but then Madlib combines the two together in the chaos of the last thirty seconds.

20. ”Phony Game” has the same structure as “Put a Curse on You;” one of the shortest tracks on the album bookended by samples.

21. “Astro Travellin” is probably the track with the most emphasis on the percussion since “Bad Character”’s intro. So the track with the most emphasis on the percussion here.

22. ”Blitz” is a forgettable instrumental. The “Without weed” sample at the get-go got my attention, doubly so because it’s repeated, so it would’ve been nice if Madlib showed us an image of a bleary world where that’s true. None of that, unfortunately.

23. ”Axe Puzzles” has the best bass line in an album full of good ones. Calling it the best bass line in hip-hop – ever – wouldn’t be hyperbolic, either.

24. ”[Quasimoto’s] looking in the back ready to attack wack MCs with peanut butter! / Who drops the beats that make you stutter!” Third best couplet of the album, courtesy of Wildchild. Madlib’s Quasimoto-outro never fails to bring a smile to my face because the way it bounces in from different voices at different sources.

25. I think the year 2000 is easily one of the better years for hip-hop in recent memory: Eminem took the world by storm with The Marshall Mathers LP, the world was introduced to Kanye West via his first major beat on Jay-Z’s The Dynasty, Deltron 3030 took hip-hop to the final frontier, the best solo Wu-Tang album dropped (and if you’ll take it from me, the best Wu-Tang-affiliated album ever), Common, OutKast and Talib Kweli were all killing it (again), and then there’s Quasimoto’s The Unseen, easily one of the funniest and funnest hip-hop album I’ve ever encountered.

Detractors will point out that the rapping is weak, but they make as strong a point had they used that as a criticism against the Beatles.

Detractors will point out that it’s not perfect, but it never strives to be, so who cares?

B+

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2 responses to “Quasimoto – The Unseen

  1. Pingback: Reflection Eternal – Train of Thought | Free City Sounds·

  2. Pingback: MED, Blu & Madlib – Bad Neighbor | Free City Sounds·

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