What makes Madvillainy so damn good? For me, this is the album that epitomizes the DOOM character and helps tell his story with the most clarity in concise bars that almost seem like they could have been throw-aways.
Doom’s humor and charm is on full-display. On tracks like “Operation Lifesaver aka Mint Test” or “Fancy Clown” quirky concepts are rapped over Madlib’s eccentric beats. The two are the perfect pair as they compliment each other with their rhyming and production. Madlib is as eccentric a producer as DOOM is as a rapper. The two often pair nicely.
The name Madvillain, comes from DOOM’s penchant for superhero themes and his larger than life person persona. Madvillain was the duo name for the producer/rapper pair consisting Mf Doom and Madlib.
The synergy between Madlib and DOOM really works. The work is heavy with the samples making it a product of a now by-gone era of hip hop. Lawsuits aimed at other entertainers have all but erased sample-based music, adding a degree of sentimentality and nostalgia for the era this record was created in.
The album artwork while simple also had a ton of thought behind it. The shadows in the image are part of a tradition known as chiaroscuro. Chiaroscuro is the use of light and shadows to make a flat image seem more three-dimensional. As seen in this photo, the technique employed to DOOM’s mask makes him seem real popping out of the cover. It also adds to DOOM’s mystique.
In summary, this record works on many levels. For me, it is a defining moment in the career of DOOM as it captures his essences. He was always a “shadowy figure” cloaked in mystique and intrigue. The cover tells this story pictorially while the music captures him and Madlib at their respective creative peaks. What makes Madvillainy so good? It is an album steeped in DOOM’s creative signature.