Unless Madlib is rapping it’s a bit confusing to refer to something like “WLIB AM: King of the Wigflip” as a Madlib album. When Madlib is playing the selector or producing the records it’s obvious that he’s the star, but on “Wigflip” he’s not the star at all. Obviously he’s still the man behind the boards producing the music, and if you know Madlib (or even if you don’t) the tracks are going to be excellent. The stars of Madlib’s album are the guest vocalists appearing on the tracks though, such as Defari spitting “that Likwit shit” on “Gamble on Ya Boy.”
Well if Madlib was going to do a compilation album of guest stars, he did exactly the kind of compilation album you’d expect him to. A majority of his selections are California based, although he does venture further East from time to time to collaborate with the likes of Prince Po on “The Thang-Thang.” This is all presented in the guise of Madlib the Beat Konducta somehow managing to have an AM radio show, let alone one that would let him use the airwaves to play uncensored rap songs, but as gimmicks go it’s not as weird as speeding up his own voice to do duets with himself.
If he’s loyal to any scene other than California it’s Eastern Michigan. His affection for J Dilla is already well known, but it also extends to the likes of Frank n Dank on “Drinks Up!,” jazz musician Karriem Riggins on “Life” and long time underground favorite Guilty Simpson on “Blow the Horns on ‘Em.” This might be my favorite song on the entire album. Madlib’s horny horn samples live up to the song’s title and Simpson’s no-nonsense delivery is as blunt as ever. “It ain’t shit to nail a verse/I might be the best ever, but I’d rather you tell me first.”
Even on an album where I didn’t expect to be surprised by the quality of the presentation, a few things still managed to catch me off guard. Georgia Anne Muldrow’s effortless transition from crooning to spitting bars on “The Plan Pt. 1” was super nice. Madlib kicked the guests out and let his track do the talking on “All Virtue,” and it really made me appreciate the dirty thump of the bass drum that much more. “Yo Yo Affair Pt. 1 & 2” starts out like it’s going to be an ode to marijuana (which wouldn’t be out of character) then it turns into smooth mellow jazz crooned by Frezna that would sound natural on AM radio that’s a much more subtle tribute to Mary Jane. I dig it!
I’d like to tell you I have any notes on what “Wigflip” did wrong, but that would be limited to “I wish some of these songs were a couple of minutes longer.” There’s not a bad track here, but some are just hors d’oeuvres when I wanted a whole ass meal. Aside from that if you like well produced tracks and guests that are equal to their quality, Madlib has the station you should tune your AM dial to.