The album recently turned 15.
Madvillainy, the influential collaborative album between MF Doom and Madlib, recently turned 15. In an interview with Spin, Doom discussed the album’s creation and legacy, as well as how it reminds him of his son Malachi, who was born around the time Doom was working on the album. (Malachi passed away back in 2017.)
In terms of how Doom and Madlib worked on the album together, the rapper said that they spent most of their time at Madlib’s studio, which was situated in an old bomb shelter.
“There was no windows in there. It was like a real bomb shelter, like if something went off, you could be down there and you’d be alright. And that’s where we had some of the recording equipment, where we could actually record. We would only go in there when it was time to record,” Doom said. “The rest of the time, I’m writing around the crib, listening to the beat on the deck, or in the whip, driving around. The whole house was the studio.”
Doom then explains the process, saying that he would have an idea for the track once he heard Madlib’s beat. The producer would give the rapper beat tapes and CDs with 50 beats on each of them, with “One out of four, on average,” standing out to the rapper.
“As quick as I was coming up with ideas, he would have more music for me to listen to. As I’m doing the writing, he’s in the other room finishing up more instrumentals,” Doom said. “…So every 50 beats he give me I got five joints.”
Doom also explained that the tracks were already completed by the time he received them, meaning that a beat’s chorus, cuts, and samples were already there.
“I had to write a song around the existing chorus that was there, and still have it feel like it made sense,” he said. “It was challenging to work with something that’s already in existence, and bring out something in it that still sounds natural.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Doom talks about his son Malichi and his relationship with him around the time Madvillainy was being made and when it was released.
“I had a chance to be there when he was born, and then I went out to L.A. to do the record, for a month or two or three, some shit like that,” he said. “When a baby’s first born, they be so little. You can hold him, but you can’t really do nothing. By the time I came back, he was a little older, but he wasn’t walking yet. His whole walking and all that came after the record was done, and after we had a chance to hear the record a while.”
Doom then went on to say that Malichi didn’t care much for rap music but had inherited his father’s wordsmith tendencies as a writer and storyteller.
“He worked on a book of short stories, and he was just about to get it all in order so he could publish it. He turned out to be quite the young writer,” Doom said. “I’m definitely going to make sure that book gets published, and his ideas come out…He always was a well-spoken young man. Eloquent with his words, how he chose to say things, how he chose to speak, his demeanor, and things of that nature.”
The rest of the interview can be read here.