Hip Hop has been a powerful force in the music industry since the 1970s, and over the years, it has produced countless classic albums that have influenced generations of artists. However, some of the best Hip Hop albums are not always the ones that achieve mainstream success. These hidden gems are often found in the underground Hip Hop scene, where artists experiment with new sounds, techniques, and ideas that challenge the status quo.
One of the most iconic and influential underground Hip Hop albums of all time is Madvillainy by Madvillain, a collaboration between MF DOOM and Madlib. Released in 2004, Madvillainy is a groundbreaking album that defies categorization. It combines abstract lyricism, sample-based production, and a distinctive experimental sound that sets it apart from anything else in Hip Hop.
At its core, Madvillainy is a celebration of the art of MCing, with DOOM delivering some of his most abstract and cryptic rhymes over Madlib’s jazzy, off-kilter beats. The album is a testament to the power of collaboration, with both artists pushing each other to new heights and creating a sound that is greater than the sum of its parts. But what makes Madvillainy truly special is its willingness to break the rules. The album is a study in contrast, with DOOM’s dense, abstract rhymes sitting atop Madlib’s jazzy, laid-back beats. It’s a combination that shouldn’t work, but somehow it does, creating a sound that is both avant-garde and accessible.
Madvillainy is an album that rewards repeat listens, with new details and nuances revealing themselves each time. It’s an album that has inspired countless artists and helped to shape the underground Hip Hop scene into what it is today.
If you’re a fan of Madvillainy and want to explore more underground Hip Hop that resonates with its sound and spirit, then look no further. This list is a collection of 20 albums that share some similarities with Madvillainy but also stand on their own as unique and groundbreaking works of art. From the abstract rhymes of Aesop Rock to the hard-edged experimentation of Cannibal Ox, from the layered sounds of Shabazz Palaces to the sci-fi of Deltron 3030, these albums represent the best of underground Hip Hop and are essential listening for anyone who loves Madvillain and wants to explore the world of Hip Hop beyond the mainstream.
So without further ado, let’s dive into 20 underground Hip Hop albums that will resonate with Madvillainy fans. Each album on this list, presented here in no particular order, is a testament to the power of creativity, experimentation, and innovation that has made Hip Hop one of the most vibrant and exciting genres of music in the world today.
MF DOOM - Operation: Doomsday (1999)
One of the most iconic albums in underground Hip Hop history is Operation: Doomsday. Released in 1999 under MF DOOM’s alter-ego, Metal Fingers, Operation: Doomsday is a concept album that chronicles DOOM’s transformation from Zev Love X of KMD to the masked villain we all know and love. It’s a deeply personal album that explores DOOM’s experiences with the music industry, the loss of his brother and KMD collaborator Subroc, and his eventual transformation into the supervillain MC.
The production on this album is top-notch, with DOOM handling most of the beats himself. The album is filled with samples from old cartoons, TV shows, and movies, creating a nostalgic atmosphere that perfectly matches DOOM’s comic book-inspired rhymes. The beats are boom-bap at its finest, with hard-hitting drums and head-nodding loops that will have you bobbing your head from start to finish.
And then there are DOOM’s rhymes. His flow is impeccable, and his lyrics are filled with references to comic book characters, pop culture, and real-life experiences. On tracks like “Doomsday” and “Rhymes Like Dimes,” DOOM’s wordplay and punchlines are nothing short of brilliant. He’s always been known for his intricate rhymes and Operation: Doomsday is a testament to his skill as an MC.
Now, if you’re a fan of Madvillainy, you might be wondering how Operation: Doomsday stacks up. While Madvillainy is a collaborative effort with producer Madlib, Operation: Doomsday is a showcase of DOOM’s skills as both an MC and a producer. It’s an album that solidified DOOM’s place as one of the greatest rappers of all time, and it’s a testament to his legacy as an artist.
Operation: Doomsday is an album that stands the test of time, and it’s a must-listen for any fan of underground rap. MF DOOM may be gone, but his music will live on forever, and Operation: Doomsday is a shining example of his brilliance as an artist. From start to finish, Operation: Doomsday is a masterpiece that will have you nodding your head, laughing at DOOM’s clever wordplay, and feeling the weight of his emotions as he opens up about his personal struggles. It’s an album that showcases DOOM’s unique style and sets him apart from the rest of the rap game. Just like Madvillainy, Operation: Doomsday is a timeless masterpiece that will continue to inspire and influence generations of rappers to come.
Cannibal Ox - The Cold Vein (2001)
Released in 2001, The Cold Vein is the debut album of Cannibal Ox, a duo consisting of Vordul Mega and Vast Aire, hailing from Harlem, New York. The album was produced entirely by El-P, the founder of the record label Definitive Jux, and one of the most influential figures in underground Hip Hop.
The production on The Cold Vein is out of this world. El-P’s beats are dark, eerie, and experimental, with distorted samples, hard-hitting drums, and an overall futuristic sound that was way ahead of its time. But it’s not just the beats that make this album so great – it’s also the lyrics. Vordul Mega and Vast Aire are two of the most unique and creative MCs you’ll ever hear. Their rhymes are dense, abstract, and often cryptic, with vivid imagery, complex wordplay, and a dystopian worldview that reflects the harsh realities of life in the inner city.
The opening track “Iron Galaxy” sets the tone for the entire album with its dark and dystopian vibe. Vast Aire and Vordul Mega trade intricate verses over El-P’s experimental beat, which features distorted samples and heavy bass. The lyrics touch on themes of war, apocalypse, and societal decay, setting the stage for the rest of the album’s bleak worldview. Another highlight is “Pigeon”, one of the most emotional tracks on the album, featuring Vordul Mega’s introspective verses about growing up in poverty and struggling to survive. El-P’s production is sparse and atmospheric, adding to the song’s eerie vibe.
The Cold Vein is very different from Madvillainy, but there are similarities too. The Cold Vein is rawer, more visceral, and even more authentic. But both albums have a similar vibe of experimentalism, abstract lyricism, and dark themes. The Cold Vein is a masterpiece of underground Hip Hop that still sounds fresh and vital today, more than 20 years after its release.
DJ Shadow - Endtroducing.....(1996)
DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing….. is one of the most influential albums in Hip Hop history. The album is a masterpiece that changed the game in so many ways. It was released back in 1996 and since then, it has been a staple in every Hip Hop head’s collection.
DJ Shadow, born Josh Davis in California, was a pioneer of the instrumental Hip Hop genre. He started his career in the mid-90s and became known for his ability to create complex and innovative beats. He was also one of the first DJs to use sampling as a major component of his music.
His debut album Endtroducing….. is a true work of art. It’s a mix of Hip Hop, jazz, and electronic music that has influenced countless artists over the years. The album is instrumental and was created almost entirely by using samples from vinyl records. One of the most impressive things about this album is how well it flows. Each track seamlessly transitions into the next, creating a cohesive listening experience. It’s almost like a movie soundtrack, with each track telling a different part of the story.
DJ Shadow used an Akai MPC60 sampling drum machine to create the entire album. He used samples from a wide variety of sources, including old jazz records, classic rock albums, and even obscure spoken word recordings. The result is an album that feels like a journey through time and space. It’s both nostalgic and futuristic at the same time, which is a rare feat in music. The album has been described as a “sonic collage” and it’s easy to see why.
If you’re a fan of Madvillainy, then you’ll definitely appreciate Endtroducing….. Both albums share a similar approach to sampling, with both Madlib and DJ Shadow using obscure and unexpected samples to create their beats. Madvillainy may have been released several years after Endtroducing….., but it’s clear that DJ Shadow’s influence can be heard in Madlib’s music.
Endtroducing….. is a must-listen for any Hip Hop fan. It’s an album that pushed the boundaries of what was possible in Hip Hop and it paved the way for many future artists.
Viktor Vaughn - Vaudeville Villain (2003)
Vaudeville Villain is a 2003 album by Viktor Vaughn, the alter ego of MF DOOM. While perhaps not as well-known as some of DOOM’s other projects like Madvillainy or Operation: Doomsday, Vaudeville Villain is still a must-listen for any fan of underground Hip Hop.
While MF DOOM is known for his iconic sample-based beats, Vaudeville Villain features a more stripped-down and raw sound, with live instrumentation playing a larger role. The result is a sound that’s both gritty and atmospheric, with the production providing the perfect backdrop for Vaughn’s lyrical stylings. And the lyrics are what really set Vaudeville Villain apart. As Viktor Vaughn, DOOM takes on a different persona, rapping from the perspective of a super-powered villain with a penchant for mischief and mayhem. The lyrics are dense and intricate, with Vaughn weaving intricate stories of his exploits over the gritty beats.
One of the things that really stands out about Vaudeville Villain is how well it pairs with Madvillainy. Both albums were released a little over six months from each other and feature MF DOOM at the top of his game, but they take different approaches to production and storytelling, with Madvillainy being more sample-based and abstract, and Vaudeville Villain more focused and narrative-driven.
But despite the differences, the two albums complement each other perfectly. Fans of Madvillainy will find much to love in the intricate storytelling and complex wordplay of Vaudeville Villain, while those who appreciate the raw and stripped-down production of Vaudeville Villain will find much to enjoy in the atmospheric and sample-heavy beats of Madvillainy.
In short, Vaudeville Villain is a must-listen for any MF DOOM or underground Hip Hop fan. Its unique production and storytelling set it apart from DOOM’s other projects, and its pairing with Madvillainy makes for a perfect one-two punch of experimental Hip Hop.
Deltron 3030 - Deltron 3030 (2000)
Deltron 3030’s self-titled debut album is a masterwork of alternative Hip Hop, showcasing the talents of rapper Del the Funky Homosapien, producer Dan the Automator, and turntablist Kid Koala. Released in 2000, the album tells the story of Deltron Zero, a futuristic rapper battling against corrupt government forces in the year 3030.
While Deltron 3030 and Madvillainy are both examples of genre-defying and boundary-pushing Hip Hop albums, the similarities mostly end there. Where Madvillainy is characterized by its abstract lyricism and minimalist production, Deltron 3030 is a dense, multilayered sonic tapestry. Dan the Automator’s beats are full of intricate samples and futuristic soundscapes, while Kid Koala’s turntable skills add a human touch to the otherwise mechanical sound. Yet is not a reach to state both albums will appeal to the same kind of Hip Hop listener.
One standout track on Deltron 3030 is “3030,” which serves as both an introduction to the Deltron Zero character and a mission statement for the album as a whole. Del’s lyrics are dense and metaphorical, touching on themes of political corruption and technological advancement. The beat is equally impressive, with Dan the Automator layering multiple samples and instruments to create a truly immersive soundscape. “Virus” is another highlight, with Del rapping from the perspective of a computer virus that has infected the world’s technology. The beat is built around menacing samples and scratches and the whole track has a dark, menacing feel that perfectly complements Del’s lyrics. Finally, “Memory Loss” serves as a fitting conclusion to the album, with Del reflecting on the events that have led him to this point in his journey. The beat is a bit more stripped-down than some of the other tracks on the album, but Del’s lyrics are as dense and metaphorical as ever.
Overall, Deltron 3030 is a stunning example of what can be accomplished when Hip Hop is taken beyond its traditional boundaries. The album’s futuristic concept and dense production set it apart from anything else in the genre, and it remains a classic of alternative Hip Hop more than 20 years after its release.
Beastie Boys - Paul's Boutique (1989)
When it comes to classic Hip Hop albums that have stood the test of time, few are as beloved as Paul’s Boutique by Beastie Boys. Released in 1989, it’s another album that defies easy categorization, blending together a wide variety of samples and sounds to create a sound that is at once cohesive and constantly surprising. And while it may have been released a decade and a half before Madvillainy, there are some striking similarities between the two that are worth exploring.
Like Madvillainy, Paul’s Boutique is an album that is filled with a dizzying array of samples, with the Beastie Boys and their producers, the Dust Brothers, taking snippets from a wide variety of sources and recontextualizing them into something entirely new. Another similarity between the two albums is their use of abstract lyricism. While Paul’s Boutique is certainly more focused on traditional rap verses than Madvillainy, the lyrics are often cryptic and surreal, hinting at a deeper emotional truth. Beastie Boys use their rhymes to create a narrative that is both personal and universal, exploring themes of identity, rebellion, and the search for meaning in a chaotic world. This is similar to the way that MF DOOM approaches his cryptic rhymes on Madvillainy.
So, while Paul’s Boutique and Madvillainy may have been released over a decade apart, there are some striking similarities between the two that make them essential listening for anyone who loves experimental Hip Hop.
Death Grips - The Money Store (2012)
The Money Store, released in 2012, is the first album by the experimental Hip Hop group Death Grips to feature all original material. It’s an intense, aggressive, and at times confrontational record that blurs the lines between Hip Hop, punk, and industrial music.
One of the standout features of The Money Store is the production, which is handled by the group’s drummer Zach Hill, along with producer Andy Morin. The beats are noisy, chaotic, and often abrasive, with elements of electronic music and heavy metal thrown into the mix. It’s a sound that’s both futuristic and retro, while also pushing Hip Hop’s genre boundaries.
MC Ride, the group’s lead vocalist, is also a major part of what makes The Money Store such an essential record. With his raw, aggressive flow and confrontational lyrics, he creates a sense of tension and danger that permeates the entire album. He’s not afraid to tackle difficult subject matters, touching on everything from political corruption to mental illness to drug addiction.
In some ways, The Money Store shares a similar ethos with Madvillainy. Both records innovate, incorporating elements of punk, rock, and industrial music into their sound. And like Madvillainy, The Money Store is a challenging and at times confrontational listen, but one that rewards repeat listens and a willingness to engage with its dense, layered soundscapes. Despite its abrasive nature, The Money Store has received critical acclaim for its innovative sound and fearless approach to Hip Hop. It’s an album that demands attention and rewards those willing to dive deep into its dense, multi-layered production and intense lyricism.
All in all, The Money Store is an essential release for anyone interested in cutting-edge Hip Hop and experimental music. It’s a record that defies easy categorization, blending elements of punk, industrial, and electronic music into a Hip Hop sound that’s uniquely Death Grips. Whether you love it or hate it, there’s no denying the impact that The Money Store has had on the world of alternative Hip Hop.
El-P - Fantastic Damage (2002)
Fantastic Damage by El-P was released in 2002, this album represents a turning point in the underground Hip Hop scene, pushing the boundaries of what was considered possible in terms of both production and lyricism. El-P’s production on “Fantastic Damage” is dense, abrasive, and incredibly layered, built around a mixture of live instrumentation and samples from a wide range of sources. The result is a sound that’s both futuristic and retro at the same time, with El-P creating a sonic landscape that’s equal parts menacing and mesmerizing.
But it’s not just the production that sets Fantastic Damage apart – it’s also El-P’s lyrical prowess. His rhymes are complex, dense, and at times almost impenetrable, with references and allusions to everything from sci-fi novels to political theory. El-P’s flow is also unique, with his rapid-fire delivery and unconventional cadences adding to the album’s already-dizzying complexity.
The album’s themes are also worth discussing. Fantastic Damage is a bleak and dystopian work, with El-P painting a picture of a world on the brink of collapse. His lyrics touch on everything from police brutality and government corruption to personal struggles with addiction and depression. It’s heavy stuff, but it’s also incredibly compelling, with El-P’s vision of a near-future world gone wrong feeling scarily prescient even today.
One of the most impressive things about Fantastic Damage is how well it’s held up over time. The album was groundbreaking when it was released in 2002, but it still sounds just as fresh and relevant today. The influence of El-P’s production and lyricism can be heard in countless underground and experimental Hip Hop artists, and the album is still considered a classic of the genre by many.
Fantastic Damage is an essential listen for any Hip Hop fan, particularly those with an interest in the more experimental and avant-garde side of the genre, it’s very similar in that way to Madvillainy. El-P’s production and lyricism are both top-notch, and the album’s themes are as relevant today as they were when it was released.
Shabazz Palaces - Black Up (2011)
Shabazz Palaces is a Hip Hop duo consisting of Ishmael Butler (formerly of the group Digable Planets) and multi-instrumentalist Tendai Maraire. Their 2011 album Black Up is a critically acclaimed work of experimental Hip Hop that defies easy categorization. With its unique production style and abstract lyricism, Black Up is an album that demands attention and rewards close listening.
The album’s title, Black Up, is a reference to the idea of blackness as a cosmic force, something that transcends race and geography. This idea is reflected in the album’s sound, which blends together a wide range of influences to create something that is truly otherworldly. From the use of African rhythms and instrumentation to the incorporation of electronic and experimental sounds, Black Up is an album that keeps surprising and challenging the listener.
One of the key features of Black Up is its use of sonic layering. The album’s beats and samples are constantly evolving, with new sounds and textures revealing themselves with each listen. The album’s lyricism is similarly abstract and challenging. Ishmael Butler’s lyrics are often dense and cryptic, filled with references to mythology, science fiction, and personal experiences. Like MF DOOM’s lyrics on Madvillainy, the lyrics on Black Up require close attention to fully appreciate them. For fans of Madvillainy, Black Up is an album that will challenge, surprise, and delight in equal measure.
Aesop Rock - Labor Days (2001)
Ian Bavitz, better known by his stage name Aesop Rock, is a rapper and producer hailing from Long Island, New York. His 2001 album Labor Days is a classic of underground Hip Hop, blending complex wordplay with socially conscious themes and experimental production.
Aesop Rock’s unique style of rapping is characterized by his dense, multisyllabic rhymes and abstract lyricism. On Labor Days, he explores themes of labor, class struggle, and the struggles of everyday people. The production on Labor Days is similarly dense, with Aesop Rock handling much of the production himself. The album’s beats are built around unconventional samples and rhythms, with elements of funk, rock, and electronic music all thrown into the mix. This is similar to the way that Madvillainy uses samples to create a constantly shifting sonic landscape.
Another similarity between Labor Days and Madvillainy is their dense, intricate lyricism. Like MF DOOM, Aesop Rock is known for his complex wordplay and abstract lyricism. Aesop Rock’s unique style of rapping and production has had a lasting impact on the underground Hip Hop scene, and Labor Days remains a standout work in his discography.
Dr. Octagon - Dr. Octagonocologyst (1996)
Dr. Octagonecologyst, the 1996 debut album by Kool Keith alias Dr. Octagon, is another landmark release in the world of alternative Hip Hop. Produced by Dan the Automator and featuring the unique flow and eccentric lyrics of Kool Keith, the album is a masterpiece of weird and wonderful rap music.
Dr. Octagonocologyst‘s production style incorporates elements of funk, rock, and electronic music into a futuristic sound that feels both otherworldly and grounded in reality. The beats are dense and layered, with samples and live instrumentation blending together to create a rich sonic tapestry that supports Kool Keith’s surreal and often hilarious lyrics.
Kool Keith’s flow and subject matter are also key to what makes Dr. Octagonocologyst so special. With his distinctive voice and unorthodox delivery, Kool Keith brings to life a series of bizarre and often hilarious characters, from the titular Dr. Octagon to aliens, robots, and more. His rhymes are full of unexpected twists and turns, with a willingness to explore taboo subjects and subvert Hip Hop conventions.
In some ways, Kool Keith’s approach to rap mirrors that of MF DOOM. Like Kool Keith, DOOM has a unique flow and a penchant for offbeat subject matter, often rapping from the perspective of comic book villains and other unconventional characters. Despite these similarities, however, Kool Keith and MF DOOM have their own distinct styles and approaches to rap. Where Kool Keith is more overtly humorous and surreal, DOOM is often more introspective and abstract, exploring themes of isolation, loss, and redemption in his lyrics.
In the end, Dr. Octagonocologyst stands as a classic example of alternative Hip Hop, a pioneering work that helped to expand the boundaries of Hip Hop. And while there may be some similarities between Kool Keith and MF DOOM, each artist stands on their own, bringing their own unique perspective and voice to the world of Hip Hop.
King Geedorah - Take Me To Your Leader (2003)
King Geedorah is one of the many aliases of MF DOOM, who also went by the name of Viktor Vaughn and, of course, Madvillain. Take Me to Your Leader was released in 2003 under MF DOOM’s King Geedorah moniker, and it’s a hidden masterpiece. The album is a concept album based around the idea of an alien invasion, with King Geedorah serving as the extraterrestrial leader who has come to take over Earth.
The production on this album is insane, with MF DOOM crafting some of the most spacey, atmospheric beats you’ll ever hear. There’s a ton of sampling on this album, with MF DOOM taking samples from all over the place – from old sci-fi movies to jazz records. It all comes together to create this eerie, otherworldly sound that perfectly fits the album’s theme. And then there are the features. This album is stacked with some of the best underground rappers of the time, including Kool Keith, King Ghidra (MF DOOM’s alter ego), and even MF DOOM’s own son, who goes by the name of King Caesar. Each rapper brings their own unique style to the table, adding to the overall vibe of the album.
There’s one track on this album that really stands out – “Anti-Matter.” The beat is absolutely insane, with this haunting piano loop that sets the tone perfectly. And then there are MF DOOM’s lyrics: he’s rapping from the perspective of an anti-matter particle, which is just insane when you think about it.
Take Me to Your Leader is an album that’s often overlooked, but it’s just about as good as any of MF DOOM’s other projects – including Madvillainy.
Danny Brown - Atrocity Exhibition (2016)
Danny Brown’s Atrocity Exhibition is a brilliant piece of music that pushes the boundaries of the genre and that cements Danny Brown’s place as one of the most creative and forward-thinking MCs in the game.
Atrocity Exhibition was released in 2016 and it’s an album that should be in every Hip Hop head’s collection. The album features Danny Brown’s unique style of rapping, which blends elements of punk rock, experimental rap, and classic Hip Hop. The album’s themes revolve around addiction, mental illness, and the struggles of being a black man in America.
A standout track on Atrocity Exhibition is “Ain’t It Funny.” The track features Danny Brown rapping over a chaotic beat that sounds like it’s about to fall apart at any moment. The track’s music video, directed by Jonah Hill, is a perfect representation of the song’s dark and twisted vibe. The track showcases Danny Brown’s ability to be both introspective and entertaining at the same time. Other standouts include “Pneumonia”, a track that features Danny Brown delivering his frantic flow over a beat that sounds like it was taken straight from a horror movie, and “Really Doe”, a dope posse cut that features some of the biggest names in modern Hip Hop (Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul, and Earl Sweatshirt) who they all bring their A-game over a beat that is dark and atmospheric.
Atrocity Exhibition can easily be compared to Madvillainy, both albums push the boundaries of Hip Hop and feature MCs who are unafraid to experiment with their sound. However, Atrocity Exhibition is a more personal album than Madvillainy, with Danny Brown delving into his own struggles with addiction and mental illness. The album’s unique style, themes, and production make it a standout project that solidifies Danny Brown’s place as one of the most creative and boundary-pushing MCs in the game.
Quasimoto - The Unseen (2000)
Quasimoto’s The Unseen is an album that doesn’t get enough love in the pantheon of underground Hip Hop. Quasimoto is the alter-ego of Madlib, the concept behind Quasimoto is that he’s a high-pitched, helium-voiced MC who’s always high on some kind of drug (or so the story goes). Madlib pitched up his own vocals to create the Quasimoto persona, and the result is a trippy and surreal experience that’s unlike anything else in Hip Hop.
The beats on The Unseen are just as weird and experimental as the vocals. Madlib samples everything from jazz to soul to Bollywood soundtracks, chopping up and rearranging the samples in unpredictable ways. The result is a collage-like soundscape that’s both disorienting and intoxicating.
One standout track is “Come On Feet,” which features a driving drum loop, a funky bassline, and a looped vocal sample, with Quasimoto playfully spitting irreverent rhymes over the beat. Another standout is “Low Class Conspiracy,” which has a more ominous and paranoid vibe. Madlib chops up a sample from a horror movie soundtrack, layering it over a haunting piano loop and a steady drum beat. Quasimoto raps about police brutality, corrupt politicians, and other social ills, painting a bleak picture of the world around him. And then there’s “Microphone Mathematics,” which is probably the most well-known track on the album. Madlib samples a jazz flute loop and a vocal sample from a Malcolm X speech, layering them over a hypnotic drum loop. Quasimoto delivers one of his most impressive performances, spitting complex and abstract rhymes that showcase his unique flow and wordplay.
The Unseen by Quasimoto is a psychedelic and mind-bending journey through the mind of one of the greatest producers in Hip Hop, an underappreciated prelude to Madvillainy, Madlib’s ultimate masterwork.
Busdriver - Temporary Forever (2002)
When it comes to experimental Hip Hop, few artists are as boundary-pushing as Busdriver. And his 2002 album Temporary Forever is a prime example of his genre-defying approach to music.
At a time when gangsta rap and mainstream Hip Hop were dominating the airwaves, Busdriver’s Temporary Forever offered a refreshing alternative. With abstract lyrics, complex rhyme schemes, and a production style that incorporated elements of jazz, funk, and electronic music, this album was unlike anything else in the Hip Hop landscape.
In many ways, Temporary Forever could be considered a precursor to the sound that was later popularized by Madvillain’s Madvillainy. Both albums share a sense of experimentation and a disregard for traditional song structures. But where Madvillainy has a darker, more psychedelic vibe, Temporary Forever is a bit more playful and lighthearted.
“Imaginary Places” is a highlight of Temporary Forever. It features Busdriver’s signature rapid-fire delivery over samples of classical pieces of music by Bach and Paganini. The track has a frenetic energy that perfectly captures the album’s overall vibe. Other standouts include “Along Came a Biter”, “Gun Control”, “Mindcrossings”, and “Unplanned Parenthood”, but this album has no weak spots, really. Busdriver’s abstract wordplay and dense rhymes can be challenging to decipher at times, but they are undeniably impressive. His lyrics touch on a range of topics, from social commentary to personal introspection.
While it may not have the same level of mainstream recognition as Madvillainy, Temporary Forever is a cult classic among fans of experimental Hip Hop. If you’re a fan of Madvillain or just looking for something a bit outside the box, Temporary Forever is definitely worth a listen.
Danger Doom - The Mouse and the Mask (2005)
The Mouse and the Mask by Danger Doom was released in 2005, bringing together MF DOOM and producer Danger Mouse, resulting in a project that’s equal parts hilarious, trippy, and straight-up fire. The Mouse and the Mask is a concept album based on the Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim programming block. The album features samples from various Adult Swim shows that are used to very funny effects, creating a unique atmosphere that’s both playful and slightly unsettling.
Musically, the album is a masterpiece of sample-based production. Danger Mouse’s beats are built around a wide range of samples, from classic soul and funk to obscure sound effects and dialogue from the Adult Swim shows. The result is a constantly shifting soundscape that keeps the listener on their toes, with new details and surprises revealing themselves with each listen.
Of course, we can’t talk about “The Mouse and the Mask” without mentioning MF DOOM’s incredible rapping. As always, DOOM’s flow is as smooth as butter, with his trademark intricate rhyme schemes and abstract wordplay on full display. On tracks like “El Chupa Nibre” and “Benzi Box,” DOOM proves once again why he’s considered one of the greatest rappers of all time, effortlessly weaving together complex rhymes with his signature laid-back delivery.
But perhaps the real strength of the album is the chemistry between Danger Mouse and MF DOOM. The two artists play off each other perfectly, with Danger Mouse’s off-kilter beats providing the perfect canvas for DOOM’s unique style of rapping. This chemistry is particularly evident on tracks like “Crosshairs” and “Old School,” where DOOM’s flow and Danger Mouse’s production come together in perfect harmony.
The Mouse and the Mask is a masterclass in underground Hip Hop. So if you haven’t checked it out yet, do yourself a favor and give it a spin – you won’t be disappointed.
Company Flow - Funcrusher Plus (1997)
Released in 1997, Funcrusher Plus was the debut album from the New York trio of El-P, Bigg Jus, and Mr. Len. The album was a game-changer, blending experimental production with politically charged lyrics and a punk rock attitude.
A standout track is “Vital Nerve,” which features a hard-hitting beat and lyrics that are more abstract and stream-of-consciousness than the album’s more political tracks. El-P’s flow is incredible, with lines like “Doc Jekyll when I burn your paragraph down to a haiku / So Tootsie Roll the f**k back to your seat cause I don’t like you / I got a hundred beats, all nicer than your joint / Karaoke MCs need not receive G’s that’s the whole point…”. But the track that really put Company Flow on the map was “8 Steps to Perfection.” The beat is a chopped-up sample of a jazz flute loop, with El-P layering in scratches and sound effects to create a disorienting soundscape. The lyrics are dense and cryptic, with references to conspiracy theories and metaphysical concepts. The song became an underground anthem and cemented Company Flow’s status as leader of the avant-garde Hip Hop movement.
Funcrusher Plus was a groundbreaking album that inspired a whole generation of underground rappers and producers. Its influence can be heard in the work of lots of artists, like Madvillainy which features a similar blend of experimental production and abstract lyricism. But there’s really nothing quite like the raw, unbridled energy of Company Flow.
lojii & Swarvy - DUE RENT (2017)
Lojii & Swarvy’s DUE RENT is a masterpiece that deserves more recognition than it gets. It was released back in 2017 and stands as Lojii’s debut full-length project, with production handled by the talented Swarvy. Lojii is an artist from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He’s known for his introspective lyrics and laidback flow that blends poetry and rap. Swarvy is a producer and multi-instrumentalist from Los Angeles who’s known for his dusty and soulful lo-fi beats.
DUE RENT is an album that requires a certain type of ear to appreciate. It’s a lo-fi neo-classic that has echoes of Madvillainy in its vibe. Like Madvillainy, this album is an acquired taste. Some may say it’s boring, while others will rave over its brilliance. But for those who appreciate the beauty in simplicity, DUE RENT is a project that will hit close to home.
The album’s overarching message is the monetary desperation that we’ve all felt at some point. It’s an album that speaks to the struggles of everyday life and the fight to keep a roof over your head. Lojii’s low-key vocals blend perfectly with Swarvy’s dusty and soulful lo-fi beats, creating a meditative backdrop that allows the album’s theme to resonate.
DUE RENT is a hidden gem that deserves more recognition. It’s an album that speaks to the struggles of everyday life and the fight to survive in a world that can be unforgiving. Lojii and Swarvy’s minimalist approach is a perfect match for the album’s theme, and the result is a project that is both meditative and thought-provoking. If you’re a fan of Madvillainy, then you’ll definitely appreciate DUE RENT.
MF DOOM - Mm..Food (2004)
Mm..Food was released back in 2004, about six months after Madvillainy, and it’s an album that should be in every Hip Hop head’s collection. The album features DOOM’s signature off-kilter flow and witty wordplay, backed by some of the most unique and creative production you’ll ever hear. The album’s themes revolve around food and the relationship between the mind and the body, with DOOM using food as a metaphor for life and the world around us.
A standout track on the album is “Rapp Snitch Knishes.” The track features DOOM teaming up with Mr. Fantastik to deliver a cautionary tale about the dangers of snitching in the rap game. The track is a perfect example of DOOM’s ability to tell a story and deliver a message while still keeping things entertaining.
Mm..Food is a perfect follow-up to Madvillainy, which was released a year earlier. The album features the same creative production and witty wordplay that made Madvillainy such a success. Both albums are a testament to DOOM’s unique style and his ability to push the boundaries of Hip Hop. The album’s themes, creative production, and DOOM’s unique style make it a standout project that solidified DOOM’s place as one of the greatest Hip Hop artists of all time.
J Dilla - Donuts (2006)
Donuts was released in 2006, just two years after Madvillainy, and was the final album released by J Dilla before his untimely death. Like Madvillainy, it’s an album that defies categorization, blending together a wide variety of samples and sounds to create a sound that is at once cohesive and constantly surprising.
At its core, Donuts is a celebration of the art of sampling, with J Dilla taking a wide variety of sources and recontextualizing them into something entirely new. While Donuts is an instrumental album, it’s still a work of Hip Hop, with J Dilla using his samples to create a narrative that is both abstract and deeply personal. The album is a reflection of J Dilla’s state of mind at the time of its creation, with each track representing a different emotion or feeling. This is similar to the way that MF DOOM approaches his rhymes on Madvillainy, with his cryptic lyrics often hinting at a deeper emotional truth. Both albums are a testament to the power of Hip Hop as a form of self-expression, with the artists using their craft to explore their own inner worlds.
While Madvillainy leans heavily on the jazz and soul samples that Madlib is known for, Donuts is more eclectic, pulling from sources as diverse as rock, funk, and electronic music. But despite their different approaches, both albums manage to create a sound that is simultaneously familiar and completely unique.
Finally, both Madvillainy and Donuts are albums that reward repeat listens. They are both dense works that require close attention to fully appreciate, with new details and nuances revealing themselves with each spin. This is particularly true of Donuts, which is a surprisingly complex album despite its relatively short runtime. J Dilla manages to pack an incredible amount of emotion and creativity into each track, creating an album that is both sonically rich and deeply affecting.
In conclusion, while Madvillainy and Donuts may have different sounds and approaches, there are some striking similarities between the two that make them essential listening for anyone who loves underground Hip Hop. Both albums are testaments to the power of Hip Hop as a form of self-expression, and both are works of art that defy easy categorization.
Whether you’re a die-hard fan of MF DOOM and Madlib, or you’re just discovering J Dilla for the first time, these two albums are essential listening for anyone who wants to explore the creative and experimental side of hip hop. They are both works of art that have stood the test of time, and continue to inspire and influence new generations of artists to this day.