17. Quasimoto, The Unseen
Released June 13, 2000
When Quasimoto first appeared on Peanut Butter Wolfâ€™s 1998 single, â€œStyles, Crews, Flows, Beats,â€ few realized that the helium-voiced instigator who promised to â€œslap your bitch up like a pimpâ€ was a guise for rising producer Madlib. He makes the connection plain during a track on The Unseen, â€œBoom Musicâ€ when he slows down Quasimotoâ€™s voice to reveal its true source. But it did little to lessen the impact of this collection of demos he recorded during the 90s â€“ their dusty, bop-inflected sound were a clear product of the acid jazz era â€“ and their hazy, psychedelic splendor.
The Unseen made hip hop fans recognize Madlib as a major artist, a Lee Perry for the indie-rap generation. A listener could get lost in its tunes, where samples from Melvin van Peebles (â€œCome On Feetâ€) and the Last Poets (â€œLow Class Conspiracyâ€) took center stage like a turntable being cued during a smoke session. Weed consumption played a central role, but so did Madlibâ€™s love for crate-digging (â€œReturn of the Loop Digga,â€ where he disses UK hip-house producer Simon Harris) and MCâ€™ing (â€œMicrophone Mathematicsâ€). These were all themes he would explore through dozens of recordings as he became one of the 00s most prolific producers. But rarely would they make for a riddle as engrossing as The Unseen.