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Madlib Biography

Home > Music > M > Madlib > Biography

Birth Name: Otis Jackson, Jr.
Born: 1973/10/24
Birth Place: Oxnard, California, United States
Years Active: 1993 - Present
Genres: Hip Hop

Madlib (born Otis Jackson Jr., October 24, 1973) in Oxnard, California, is a Los Angeles-based DJ, multi-instrumentalist, rapper and music producer. Known under several pseudonyms, he is one of the most prolific and critically acclaimed hip hop producers of the 2000s and has collaborated with a many hip hop artists, including The Alkaholiks, Mos Def, De La Soul, Ghostface Killah, Talib Kweli, A.G., MF DOOM and the late J Dilla. He is also the creative force behind the ensemble Jazz collective, Yesterdays New Quintet.

He began making music with the rap group Lootpack in the early 1990s. After his father started an independent label Crate Diggas Palace (CDP) Records in 1996 to promote Madlib and his CDP crew, including younger sibling Oh No and released an EP “Ill Psyche Move,” Lootpack caught the attention of Peanut Butter Wolf, founder of the Stones Throw Records label. They released two singles and a full-length album on the Stones Throw imprint in 1999. Madlib also worked with rap group Tha Alkaholiks for several albums.

Madlib's first release under the guise of Quasimoto, titled “The Unseen,” was in 2000. The album was met with critical acclaim and featured the distinctive high-pitched voice of his alter-ego Lord Quas, attained by playing the original beat at a slow speed, recording the vocals over that slow speed, then speeding the vocals along with the original beat back up to its original tempo.

In 2001, Madlib took a turn away from traditional hip hop music, releasing his first Yesterdays New Quintet LP, “Angles Without Edges.” Yesterdays New Quintet is a jazz-based, hip hop and electronic-influenced quintet made up of four alter egos or fictional musicians played by Madlib: Ahmad Miller, Monk Hughes, Malik Flavors and Joe McDuphrey, as well as Madlib under his real name, Otis Jackson Jr. Madlib has continued to record other albums under the different guises of Yesterdays New Quintet members, including 2002's tribute to Stevie Wonder, “Stevie” as well as “solo” albums by the various members, such as Monk Hughes' 2004's tribute to Weldon Irvine, “A Tribute to Brother Weldon, Joe McDuphrey Experience.” He also created the pseudonym Sound Directions to create the YNQ-like band's debut album “The Funky Side of Life.”

The first album under the name Madlib, released in 2002, was a collection of old dub reggae tracks from Trojan Records, and was titled “Blunted in the Bomb Shelter.” Madlib’s second LP, “Shades of Blue” was released in 2003 and is a remix of Blue Note Records tracks. The album featured original Blue Note recordings, some remixed and resampled, and some replayed by Madlib, as well as rapping by M.E.D. aka Medaphoar.

2003 heralded the first of two collaboration projects. Working with the late hip hop producer J Dilla, the duo known as Jaylib released “Champion Sound.” The other was Madlib's collaboration with hip-hop producer and rapper MF DOOM, known together as Madvillain. The 2004 “Madvillainy” album was highly anticipated and well-received, topping many critics' year-end lists.

The 2005 Quasimoto album, “The Further Adventures of Lord Quas” was accepted well and continued the Quasimoto tradition of using vocal samples from Melvin Van Peebles. This was followed by a YNQ album called “Sound Directions: The Funky Side of Life,” marking his first collaboration with session musicians.

J Dilla died in February 2006, and Madlib's album of hip-hop instrumentals “Beat Konducta Vol 1-2: Movie Scenes” was released that March. On New Year's Eve, a digital release “Liberation” with Talib Kweli was made public for free download for the first week of 2007. In August 2007, “Beat Konducta Vol 3-4: Beat Konducta in India” was released, an instrumental hip hop album containing songs sampling the music of India.

2007’s “Yesterdays Universe” completed the cycle of releases by Yesterdays New Quintet and introduced a new collection of artist names created by Madlib: The Jazzistics, The Young Jazz Rebels, Suntouch, The Jahari Massamba Unit, Kamala Walker & The Soul Tribe, The Last Electro-Acoustic Space Jazz & Percussion Ensemble, The Yesterdays Universe All-Stars, The Otis Jackson Jr. Trio, and The Eddie Prince Fusion Band. This album also would mark the first collaboration between Madlib and Brazilian jazz artist Ivan "Mamao" Conti under the band name Jackson Conti.

In May 2008, Madlib and Ivan Conti (of the Brazilian band Azymuth) released a full album under the name Jackson Conti, entitled “Sujinho.”

In September 2008, Stones Throw released a limited box set called “Madvillainy 2: The Madlib Remix.” It contained remixes of the first “Madvillainy” album and the song “Monkey Suite,” originally on the “Chrome Children” compilation, a “One Beer (Drunk Version)” 7"-single, the Madvillain demo cassette, a T-shirt and a comic book.

Madlib's BBE Beat Generation album “WLIB AM: King of the Wigflip” was released in September 2008. Madlib's third two-volume Beat Konducta album was released in early 2009. “Beat Konducta Vol. 5-6: A Tribute to...” was a 42-track piece dedicated to the late J Dilla.