Ayo Jegede
reviews editor
February 17, 2004
Amazon Disco:
Shades of Blue Shades of Blue
June 24, 2003
Blue Note Records
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October 12, 2004
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Blunted in the Bomb Shelter Mix Blunted in the Bomb Shelter Mix
November 6, 2002
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Shades of Blue: Madlib Invades Blue Note Shades of Blue: Madlib Invades Blue Note
June 12, 2003
Toshiba EMI
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Madlib
Shades of Blue

what's horrifying about President Bush's total lack of eloquence is that it is hardly a disposition difficultly remedied. i mean, at his disposal are countless speech writers with a far better orientation with the english lexicon, 3 degrees (2 from ivy league schools), and not to mention the fact that his office has been home to a bevy of former presidents, some of whom have done nothing short of keeping the world from falling off its axis. yet we still have to endure "nucular," "strategery," "misunderestimate," and "Secretary of Animals?!" the absolute paucity of Bush's locutionary tact is not just grating, it's damn unnecessary! you'd think that even the most inarticulate and ignorant douche would use spell check.

so it makes sense that Madlib's latest effort is also a tad disconcerting. it seemed like a perfect combination: Madlib, a much sought producer who made his name with Tha Alkaholiks, and the entire library of Blue Note Records, home to musicians like Coltrane and Monk as well as a slew of others who've revolutionized jazz (barring Norah Jones). but Shades of Blue, perhaps not necessarily a fault of Madlib himself, is so underwhelming and progresses with only a soupcon of the spirit and vibe we expected from these two daring combinations. it starts off pretty well with 'Slim's Return,' a remake of Gene Harris's 'The Look of Slim.' i've found adding a turntable to genres like Jazz or Blues can yield some of the most abominable results, but it seems to work rather well on this track. the scratching isn't of the forced sort as if to proclaim that it's not trying to be jazz and the looping barely augments the original song.

yet what follows is a veritable slew of blunted remixes and remakes, some of which fail terribly to pronounce themselves. 'Distant Land' (a Donald Byrd remake) and 'Please Set Me At Ease' are, dare i say, sloppy. the beats and samples were poorly overlapped, detracting severely from the original piece and limiting Madlib's redesign of it. there are redeeming qualities, though. 'Montara' and 'Footprints' are both excellent mixes, effectively and harmoniously drawing a symbiosis that the listener thought impossible some tracks back. though the final track, 'Peace/Dolphin Dance,' is remarkably good, it certainly doesn't repudiate the almost catastrophic and dissonant tracks which preceded it.

to some extent one can't really fault Madlib. i mean, he is dealing with Blue Note Records, a company known for absolute musical brilliance and dominance in the jazz genre. to that degree i think a better approach would have been to be minimalistic about tinkering with the samples. too often all i heard were attempted combinations rather than a single congruous flow of two genres. yes, Jazz and Blues in their quintessential forms are difficult to manage with a modern musical mindset but at the very least Madlib deserves praise for his effort.

Release date: June 24, 2003
Label: Blue Note
Rating: 6.0 / 10

[RMR]