In hip hop, the word “Classic” can have many meanings: It can mean a perfectly executed album that will be culturally significant for many years to come. It has also been liberally thrown around in message boards in regards to fake tracklists and overhyped mixtapes. But when M.E.D. titled his second album, Classic, he meant the type of music that has a vintage, traditional feel. And with the help from a few friends, the Stones Throw vet has made an album worthy of the title.
Classic is filled with top notch production from the likes of Madlib (10 tracks), Oh No, Alchemist, Karreim Riggins, and Georgia Ann Muldrow. The Talib Kweli-featured title track (laced by Riggins) is one of the most divine productions I’ve heard in a long time. Kweli blesses the ultra-smooth track with one of his best verses in years. Oh No also supplies a Left Coast banger with “Where I’m From” which features a fantastic hook from the soulful Aloe Blacc. And Madlib is clearly the superstar on Classic with consistently phenomenal production throughout.
Now having production this great on your album is a double-edged sword. Now clearly it’s a good thing because it makes your album more listenable, and occasionally you’ll get credited for being a good “beat selector.” But it can also be a bad thing because a rapper’s performance will get overlooked. And that is the case here. Madlib is the star of this show, but that doesn’t make M.E.D.’s performance less important. M.E.D. is a lyrically sound rapper, who can craft good and sometimes even great songs over his stellar production. His flow and delivery are solid (if not unimaginative), but he definitely gets the job done on Classic. His guest appearances are well-placed throughout the record to break up any monotony as well. West Coast spitters like Planet Asia and Kurupt appear on the frantic, aggressive “Roll Out,” while newcomer Hodgy Beats (of Odd Future fame) makes an unlikely appearance on the high-energy “Outta Control.”
While most of Classic is more vibe-oriented, M.E.D. does occasionally touch on some subject matter. “Blaxican” is the album’s most topical track, where M.E.D. raps about racial issues between Blacks and Mexicans. And he gets a little personal on “1 Life 2 Live.” The album only has a few minor blemishes, such as the sexual “JWF” and the ode to marijuana, “Medical Card,” that are poorly executed and unoriginal. But other than that, M.E.D. along with Madlib and company have crafted an album that just feels like “classic” hip hop.