When being a recluse goes terribly wrong.
By now, it should be clear just how different Madlib is from most, if not all, other producers. Having rid himself of a cellular device years ago, emails, smoke signals, and the work itself have become the Oxnard legend’s main means of communicating during, at times, days-long stints in the studio. But living off the grid has its own set of drawbacks. Like, say, missing a call to join the sessions for a pivotal album from a generational rapper.
As it turns out, that’s precisely what happened when Kendrick Lamar reached out to Madlib during the recording of To Pimp a Butterfly. In a new interview with The Guardian, the producer laments failing to pick up the call from Lamar. “Back then I was more elusive than I am now,” Madlib notes. “I was busy on my own thing. Missed opportunities, man,” the producer adds before admitting it “probably wouldn’t have worked out anyway,” as he almost never shares a studio with any of the myriad collaborators he’s had over the last two and a half decades.
Elsewhere in the interview, Madlib discusses what it was like recording Madvillainy on mushrooms with the late MF DOOM, reveals J Dilla produced an unreleased song for NSYNC, and likens his own production process to summoning spirits. “Sometimes I’m not actually doing the music, the spirit can lock into you; it’s like a meditation,” Madlib says. “Stuff people don’t understand, beyond ghosts. I feel Dilla come around me sometimes,” the producer recounts.
The chat arrives on the heels of an uncommon string of press spots from the producer, who recently spoke with NPR about DOOM’s death and revealed he’d stashed a completed project with Thundercat in an interview with The New York Times, promoting his new album with Four Tet, Sound Ancestors.
You can read the full interview with Madlib via The Guardian.