Madvillain "Madvillainy" In Review: 10-Year Anniversary

MF DOOM & Madlib's collective debut turns ten, HipHopDX looks back at the album a decade later.

With both artists active at least a decade prior to its release, Madvillainy is now a bit of mid-career hallmark for Madlib and MF DOOM. Released on March 23, 2004, Madvillainy was the debut for the duo and remains their only original full-length album to date. Several years removed from either DOOM’s Operation: Doomsday debut as well as Madlib and the Lootpack’s first album, Soundpieces: Da Antidote, Madvillainy has since helped to define both artists' careers following its peak position at #179 on the Billboard 200 list.

The album, which clocks in at twenty-two tracks long, was entirely produced by Madlib, with DOOM claiming a co-production credit on the first track alone. Engineered by the duo themselves, executive produced by label boss Peanut Butter Wolf, and designed by Stones Throw stalwart Jeff Jank—responsible for the drawing of Quasimoto as well as the designing of J Dilla’s Stones Throw era works—Madvillainy has lived on as an acclaimed collaborative project. 

Madvillain Madvillainy Reviews Revisited

Boasting critical acclaim more than widespread commercial success, Madvillainy was reviewed favorably across platforms and received a perfect five out of five rating from HipHopDX. DX’s review, written a week before the album’s release, ends with a full-out compliment of the highest order. “It truly is 'Strange Ways' when you take a song such as that one and consider that DOOM and Madlib's respective talents are unknown to the masses,” DX’s review reads. “You'd be a fool to think an album as off the wall as this one would ever gain acceptance by the masses, but it is just a shame that artists this dope will never be as celebrated as they should be. Classic albums generally need some time to marinate and gain that status, but fuck it; they didn't follow any guidelines so why should I? Classic, yes I said it. Classic.”

Pitchfork gave the album a 94 out of 100 rating after its release in 2004 calling it “a tense mainstream-meets-indie, avant-meets-antique melee.” “Madvillainy is inexhaustibly brilliant, with layer-upon-layer of carefully considered yet immediate hip-hop, forward-thinking but always close to its roots,” they wrote. “Madlib and DOOM are individually at their most refined here, and together, they've created one of the most exciting blockbuster alliances in the underground to date. Good luck finding a better hip-hop album this year, mainstream, indie, or otherwise.”

The album carries a generated score of 93 out of 100 on the review aggregator Metacritic with high marks from the Village Voice, All Music Guide, Q Magazine, and more.

Madvillainy Singles, Videos, & Remixes

With “America’s Most Blunted” as the album’s first official single, the pair released several other singles and a host of exclusive remix tracks and full-out projects following the initial release. Videos for the album included the James Reitano directed “All Caps,” which is a referenced to the stylized stage name of DOOM, and the Andrew Gura directed “Rhinestone Cowboy” and “Accordion.” Both “All Caps” and “Rhinestone Cowboy” are available below.

Despite the lack of any original follow-up album from the duo, Madvillainy has gone on to receive several remix treatments including the full-length Madvillainy 2: The Madlib Remixes. Stones Throw Records has also commissioned Madvillain remixes from producers like Four Tet and Koushik.

Madlib & DOOM Since Madvillainy

Remixes and one-off tracks aside, Madvillain has yet to release an official follow-up to their 2004 debut despite repeated rumors of plans to do so. In 2012, speaking exclusively with HipHopDX, DOOM casually referenced a sequel while speaking on the record collections of producers J Rocc and Madlib. “You know, these niggas got some shit that’s ill as hell that niggas never heard, that’s as ill as any of these old breaks but they just haven’t come to surface yet,” he said. “Watch when you hear the new Madvillain record. It’s almost done.”

Last year, in an interview with Rollingstone.com, Madlib explained that it was up to his reclusive emceeing counterpart to get a sequel to the project released. "I handed all the beats to DOOM years ago, but ever since he's been in Europe, he's been hard to get a hold of...I feel it probably won't happen," he said. “But you never know. I can't sit and wait on that. I did my part."

In an interview with DAZED earlier this year, Madlib updated fans on the process, claiming he’s still in the dark as to DOOM’s progress. “He doesn’t even have to do it; I just want to know where we are at with it because we recorded like, 10, 13 songs, but out of those we probably only used 4, so I want to see how the recordings are going. It’s not close to finished because it has to be a continuation of the last one. It doesn’t have to be better or worse but it has to be a continuation.“

Since Madvillainy, both artists have continued to release music both individually as well as with other artists. Madlib has relentlessly kept up with his Beat Konducta series, a set of instrumental records that finds the producer relying on specific regions for his samples fodder. The producer has also released several emcee-producer collaborations including Liberation with Talib Kweli in 2006 and his most recent effort with Freddie Gibbs this year.

DOOM released his solo sophomore album, Mm.. Food, the same year as Madvillainy and has embarked on his own instrumental series himself. In 2009, DOOM release another solo album with Born Like This, a record that features production from both Madlib and J Dilla. DOOM is currently reportedly planning a release with New York emcee Bishop Nehru. Of the collaboration, DOOM said the project will be "very informative." "As like a compilation of sounds, all of them hold they own weight but as one whole thing, a piece, it's going to be a very informative piece. It's going to be that joint... To me, everything happened organically and it's still going organically, so it's hard to explain it as it's happening. It just is what it is."

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Madlib Doubts "Madvillainy" Sequel, Talks Collaborations With Mos Def & Freddie Gibbs

BJ The Chicago Kid Confirms Track With Busta Rhymes & MF DOOM On J Dilla Beat

39 Comments

  • ThaLegitCutta

    Thank God for "The Boondocks", or I may have never found out about this release.

  • Aim80

    this album is such a fucking classic, i'll never forget when and where i was when i first heard it, and i STILL push this album on people to this day, and it's STILL in my constant rotation. Especially after i listen to MadGibbs from front to back, listening to Madvillainy right after just flows perfectly. So many perfect songs, Meat Grinder, Accordion, Figaro, All Caps... sigh. I feel SOOO bad for people that don't know this album. "I like ice cream, we could skip the weddin' Have a nice dream, she only let him stick the head in."

  • Franny

    Not even a mention of Fancy Clown....how?

  • Big Boss Man

    MF Doom has shitty music and takes it up the ass big time

  • MrPootawn

    This is a great album no question, but it's not even DOOM's best. Operation Doomsday and VV2 are both better in my opinion.

  • Hidden By Leaves

    Borderline Psychitzo / Sorta fine tits doe / Pour the wine / Whore to grind / Quarter to Nine / Lets Go!

  • Mike

    While this album is indeed a classic and has paved the way for new and upcoming artist make music now a days I could understand why this album can be "overrated". DOOM Fans while there is a lot of love. There is an extreme sense of Pride for DOOM and it shines a lot through this album unfortunately. I'm not saying you shouldn't express your love for this album, However a majority of Fans come off as annoying and you just want them to shut the hell up about it. But I guess this happens within every fan base of an artist But I digress. At The end of the day you should like what you like and don't care about what the next person says about it. Madvillainy is a huge achievement within the "underground" sate of Hip-hop and is certainly an essential album to listen to.

  • anonymus

    "stop talking bout my moms yo!"

  • Anonymous

    Hahaha...I'm just laughing at the hate. Madvilliany was so dope. It created an essence and I guess if you don't mess with it then you are just not "in" If you call it overrated, then you are just overrated as a hip hop fan point blank. I was hyped when Boondocks and Adult Swim commercials played songs from the album. You can't deny the greatness of madlib and the creativity of MF DOOM! Art is all about choices, so knowing what they decided not to do is almost as important as what they did DO! The fact that they CHOSE not to make the typical album and CHOSE to have the rhyme schemes as they did adds to the greatness of it! The instrumentals are crazy! Rhinestone Cowboy is the perfect exit track! Don't hate on DOOM and Madlib...Hate on yourselves you bastards and do something productive with your lives! hahaha!!!!

  • fnghz

    Binary Star - Masters of the Universe, came out about the same time.....and is a far better album in all aspects. To me, that should have been posted here and not Madvillainy. It is one of the best hip hop albums of all time IMO

    • MrPootawn

      Both are great albums but Madvillain is the better record. Binary is very traditional, both members are excellent but that record did not push any boundaries. Madvillain, on the other hand left behind the genre and represented something new and unique altogether.

    • Anonymous

      FUCKING GREAT ALBUM, BUT TO COMPARE THEM IS STUPID THEY ON 2 DIFFERENT PAGES...THAT WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS JOINT IS WHOA....YIP I AGREE DEF A CLASSIC, BUT NO ONE KNOWS ABOUT BINARY STAR, MADVILLAIN WOULD BE CONSIDERED MAINSTREAM COMPARED TO BINARY STAR...

  • Drizzaveli

    Most overrated album in hip hop history

  • THE REAL REVIEW

    The album consists of 22 tracks, and has no 'real' songs on it, which means no choruses, no properly long songs etc. isn't really a thing which everyone is supposed to like, but somehow is what makes it such a unique record. Even though it has unconventional song structures, this album is constructed just perfectly; there is an amazing balance between instrumentals, rapping, singing and comic book style skits. In my opinion, this album has an infinite replay value, I listen to it regularly and I still like it even more after each listen. Every single thing is calculated and taken care of, every single rap line from Doom, which are tremendously polished and abstract and make you want to know the references and underlying meanings, at the same time there is great sense of lighthearted humor and even a trace of accessibility. Madlib's production is the thing that makes this record a musical masterpiece, he makes a fusion of so many musical genres, and at the same time makes the smart flowing from one to another, so in theory this album cannot become repetitive; when you finally get used to one beat, here comes the another. And of course, the dialogues, and comic book narratives make the sound even better. -Nick T

  • erjgknergjk

    HHDX wouldve gave the album like a 3 if they reviewed it back then. Fuck u hhdx, acting like y'all fux with the real

  • adrian street

    this is a new classic album. not many classics came out after the year 2000 but this is definitely one. A lot of people actually don't know what a classic album is and throw around titles like "Magna Carta", "Loso's way" and "Marshall Mathers LP 2" and things of that nature. But when you question them and throw out real classics like "Jeru the damaja - wrath of the math" , the normal response is "who's that? or that's old, or that's irrelevant" Motherfucker a classic is an old album that you can never get tired of where every song is still playable 10, 15, 20, 30 years later. This new generation wouldn't know a classic if it bit them in the ass. I think it's why their version of hip hop sucks. their definition of a classic other than the couple that i mentioned before are like "50 cent - get rich or die trying", "lil wayne -the carter 3", "drake - take care".... its sad In madlib's own catalogue i would say that "quasimoto - the unseen" "jaylib - champion sound" "madvilliany" are easily classics. (Lootpack - soundpieces: the antidote just missed the cut)

    • Aim80

      Gotdamn, The Lootpack album is riiiiight there as a classic too, no doubt! And Jaylib, good god... another must-know.

    • PATHH88

      PREACH BROTHER, PREACH. GOTTA ADD MY LITTLE 2 CENT AND SAY THAT JERU'S FIRST 2 ALBUMS WERE CLASSICS.

  • a person who doesn't mindlessly dickride music for nonsense reasons

    Used to think that this album was untouchable godly but over the years I wisened up and don't hold it in that high of a regard anymore. The beats definately outshine the rapping on here like on pretty much every other MF Doom album. I always prefered his two VV projects over this, the rapping and beats are simply stronger than they are on here imo.

  • JuFu

    I consider it a classic. It is true that it's not on everyone's radar and some of the songs are a bit off the wall. Not everyone is going to dig it but that's all on a matter of opinions. My only complaint about this CD is that I uploaded it on YouTube in it's entirety (JuFu89) and I got all 3 strikes from it and terminated my channel with almost a 1000 videos/songs on there. So thanks to Stone Throw Records or MF DOOM, I have to start from scratch again and I won't be uploading anything from that record label or MF DOOM for that reason.

    • PATHH88

      SO NOT REALLY A COMPLAINT ABOUT THE CD, MORE A COMPLAINT ABOUT YOU BREAKING THE LAW AND BEING CAUGHT (IN SOME WAY) AND THEN BITCHING ABOUT IT COS YOU WERE SOMEHOW PUNISHED ???? DONT DO THE CRIME IF YOU GONNA BITCH ABOUT THE TIME...

    • ghost of egan

      Yeah, Stones Throw is the absolute worst at deleting songs. You would figure they wouldn't be so uptight given that they steal from artists by ways of sampling ALL the time!

  • Anonymous

    I need a Doom mask

  • Mr. Tibbs

    I still to this day bump this album once a month. Its my official 4/20 album every year since its release. This album is dope on so many levels and has stood the test of time. I can honestly say I don't want to see a part 2 to this project because it would be damn near impossible for anything else to be this great. This album is better than anything past, present, and future in Hip-Hop. And no I'm not exaggerating.

    • Aim80

      I agree, I'd rather NOT see a sequel to this, especially if it's gonna be forced, and it sounds like it is. If it ever happens, PLEASE let it happen organically... us fans dont NEED a sequel, we're all sitting here 10 years later talking about how it's still in our daily rotations!

  • Anonymous

    That All Caps video still goes to this day. Love that shit.

  • Dan

    One of the greatest albums in hip hop.

  • Anonymous

    most overratted album of all god damn fucking time

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