24th August | Marble Factory
Photos: Kristina Kimlickova
It’s not often that super-producer Madlib stops off in the UK, let alone Bristol. However, after a mini-string of shows in London and Leeds, the Oxnard-born DJ made his way to the South West for a bank holiday headline show at The Marble Factory. With an exciting, eclectic line-up of live instrumentation and DJ sets, Saturday night was set to be special.
The task of opening the show fell upon London-based music collective, The Heliocentrics. Acclaimed for their funk-laced, Khraugbin-style jazz, the group’s atmospheric sound perfectly suited welcoming the masses. Next on the bill was British jazz musician, Kamaal Williams. Commonly known under his producer moniker, Henry Wu, Williams is also acknowledged as half of the dispersed jazz duo Yussef Deyes. Although Yussef Deyes no longer perform as one unit, Williams performed material from the pair’s debut album, Black Focus, alongside his solo material.
A warm reception suggested that this collaborative material had been highly anticipated, yet despite being the ‘main event’, the quality of Williams’ performance felt reliant upon the talent within his band. Rhythms scarcely fluctuated throughout, and the artist himself performed with little dynamism nor fervour. In harsher terms, the musicians’ set felt more like an extended interlude than an exuberant live jazz experience.
Clad in all-white, Madlib took to the turntables for the penultimate set of the evening.
A tingly excitement swept the warehouse as the DJ allowed the opening track, Jay Lib’s ‘Da Rawkus’ to bleed into ‘Accordian’, taken from the seminal MF Doom record Madvillainy. Soon after, the producer began dropping tracks from his 2014 collaborative project with Freddie Gibbs, Piñata. After news of the duo playing a Boiler Room set together in London last week, there was a tangible aura of hope that Jackson would invite the MC to join him, although sadly this didn’t happen. That said, mixing old classics with fresh beats seemed to satisfy an overwhelmingly male sea of bopping heads.
Half an hour in, Madlib paid respect to the late J Dilla, asking the audience to raise their hands for his good friend and collaborator, an artist whose influence on hip-hop is difficult to overstate. As his set progressed, the DJ continued to seamlessly fuse old-skool hip-hop with classic jazz, all the while continuing to drop snippets of his more recent work with rap duo Black Star. Material from Bandana – his most recent project with the aforementioned Freddie Gibbs was also occasionally sampled.
As the artist was abruptly ushered off stage at two AM, many shook their heads disappointedly and made a swift exit in protest. Madlib, on the other hand, accepted the curfew gracefully and warmly embraced Dutch DJ Carista, tagging her on stage. One of Madlib’s most striking features is his collected nature. He’s a disc jockey so seasoned, so calculated and so understatedly confident in his craft that it’s hard not to feel privileged in his presence. Often stepping away from the decks, gesturing and sauntering, Madlib’s set was far from static, yet it was apparent this headline show at Bristol’s biggest club was, in reality, just another day at the office for one of the world’s greatest producers.
See the video for ‘Crime Pays’ here: