Great artists throughout history have exchanged inspiration and ideas with like-minded peers. California-bred producer Madlib found such a link in James "J Dilla" Yancey before his Champion Sound cohort died at age 33 after succumbing to a battle with lupus. Before Jay Dee's untimely death, their shared approach to production--where sprawling imaginations gave birth to rich melodies--each artist during both collaborations and solo projects.
Beat Konducta Vol. 5-6: A Tribute to... conceptualizes Madlib's great respect for his fallen comrade. Adding his personal touch to some of the same hues Jay Dee once favored, Madlib paints a fitting tribute to the man who inspired his Beat Konducta instrumental series. Tribute plays like a beat tape, stuffing the 42-track collection with dramatic beats joined together by a similar theme. Having already scored a movie [click to read] and explored the hills of India, the Beat Konducta's short but impactful bits of Soul, Rock, and Reggae honor a great musician and close friend.
Madlib conveys a message with warm tones and brief vocal clips that invoke J Dilla's memory. Excerpts from a tributary speech clearly state this mission statement on "For My Mans (Prelude)," while "The Mystery (Dilla's Still Here)" has an illustrious vibe--slightly cleaner than Madlib's typically raw, distorted sound--that references Jay Dee. "J's Day Theme #3 (Support)," with its soft horns and clapping beat, even sounds like something the late beatsmith would have created for Common. Meanwhile, both the fuzzy hum of "Show Me the Good Life" and '70s Soul strings on "Dillalade Ride (Contact High)" bear some similarities to selections on The Shining [click to read] and Donuts.
Beat Konduckta Vol.5 & 6 is more flattery than imitation as Madlib doesn't try to be Jay Dee. Rather, Madlib showcases his talent through a scope shared with his gifted friend. It's inspiration, not emulation. "Sacrifice (Beat-A-Holic Thoughts)" delivers the familiar vinyl crackles and mood that are more The Bad Kid's speed. The upbeat strings and chords sample rests comfortably on top of an unobtrusive drum beat, drawing off emotions and vocal samples to tell a story. This also holds true for the driving guitar riff that imagines "The Get Over (Move)" as a stinging protest, accented by air horns and sirens that soundtrack the uprising.
As "Electric Zone (Plugged In)" plays video game blips and quirky bass sounds, while a voice says, "Music is my occupation, but love is my inspiration." That sentiment is wholly true as Madlib's music sounds like a labor of love. Even though the compositions tease and leave shortly after the groove sets in, almost every beat is alluring and expertly-crafted. There's no doubt that work and care went into making each song, however short, into something worth cherishing. Beat Konduckta Vol. 5 & 6 is inspiration passed from one contemporary to another, and then shared with peers and admirers as an act of appreciation.