Okay, so if there's anyone that's been a consistent frontrunner in hip-hop beats over the last decade or so it's Otis Jackson Jr, otherwise known as Madlib. His Beat Konducta series of releases presented some really interesting rhythms and synthesis to fit their individual theme, which included Movie Scenes and a homage to the late hip-hop producer and Madlib collaborator J Dilla. In addition to the Beat Konducta albums there has also been a series of albums under the name Medicine Show, of which this is the last installment. I am not as familiar with the Medicine Show collection as the Beat Konducta collection, yet there are some differential observations that I have been able to take in from listening to this release a few times.
If there's one thing I've picked up on it's that there is much less of a thematic presence than a lot of Madlib's earlier work. With the Beat Konducta series and even his re-workings of Blue Note classics on the album Shades of Blue, there was always a general theme, or script to stick to which gave the songs, good or bad, a path to follow. That is definitely something that appealed to me when listening to the beats he was creating (it's also the reason I listened heavily to MF Doom's 'MM.. Food?'). Some of these tracks are really great, like closer Channel 85 Presents Nittyville. But without the theme to tie it together the record seems very scatterbrained.
In addition to that I noticed that the beats are for the most part significantly less, for lack of a better word, experimental, and much more commercial. It's not so much a huge problem, as there are other areas in the series where the beats are a lot more experimental than most of Madlib's other work. However, with regards to this particular album, it feels as though Madlib didn't challenge himself too greatly when creating these tracks.
So in summary, this is a very plain, straightforward collection of hip-hop tracks, some better than others, but on average fairly mediocre when paired with previous works. Lets just hope that the rumours of a new Madvillain effort in 2011 come to fruition.