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Album Review: In the Beginning Vol. 1 by Declaime and Madlib

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Dudley Perkins, or better known by his stage name, Declaime, is a rapper and singer from California. Otis Jackson Jr., or better known as Madlib, is a DJ, producer, and rapper from California. While this project came to me as a surprise, Declaime and Madlib used to work together a lot during the 90s. In the Beginning Vol. 1 contains several early recordings (mostly in the 90s) of Declaime and Madlib working together.

The first track from the album is Enuff. Right as the track opens up, you can tell that this is an older and classic Madlib beat. You're greeted with the bass and some other lighter notes that are sprinkled on top of the track. You can also hear the rough recording sounds, but that just makes it that much more real and takes you back to the time when it was recorded. Other than that, Declaime definitely had some easy going verses on this one.

One On One Remix definitely sounds a little more rough on the edges compared to the previous track. The levels for different instrumentation seems to be all over the place. There's a quiet electronic noise in the background that just seems to jump in noise. As for the vocals, Declaime talks about how he had tried to bring some lines from previous tracks and put them together on this beat since Madlib kept on creating new beats for him.

Cool Ways is probably one of the best produced tracks on this collection. While it opens up quietly with just a bell sound, as well as a drum beat, we eventually get some record scratching and a running bass line to keep the beat going. I also feel like this beat perfectly fits Declaime's rapping style since he just kills it on this one. Lyrically, Declaime talks about how he had to spend several long nights trying to get his rapping down so he could make it.

2 Da Head is another quick, two and a half minute track on the project. Besides the bass lick and repetitive electronic note, this is a heavily jazz influenced track with the quick spurts of different instruments. As for Declaime, he definitely wanted to try to leave a message on this track with his lines. Also, in an interview, he said he wanted to take inspiration from different artists, such as Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five.

Madman definitely sounds like some early inklings of what Madlib would eventually be able to come to later on in his career. It starts out with some very distorted and warped vocals. Once that ends, the piano and bass parts start to come in with Declaime's vocals. I also love that the bass part evolves as the track progresses. Again, Declaime takes this beat to talk about some of the evils that happen in the world, like robberies and terrorists.
 
Declaime Speaks opens up with some clipped notes, but once that ends, we get a lighter string and bass notes. Also, the string notes almost sound like they are 'bouncing'. Madlib also experiments with several different sounds throughout the track. We also get some more record scratching on this one. As for the track, Declaime is really just speaking instead of rapping. As Declaime said himself, he was probably on some substance when recording this track. 

Black opens up with some high bell sounds as well as some sound clips which was expected since it's a Madlib produced track. Once the soundclip is over, it stays pretty simplistic with just a bass and drumkit. There are some other things that come in, but only for a few seconds. As you may have guessed from the title of the track, this track is still important today with the current events dealing with systemic racism.

We finally come to the longest track on the album, Wake Up, which is just under five minutes in length. The track opens up with several different beat changes. It starts out with a hip hop clip, but eventually switches into a smooth jazz tune, and then switches into another hip hop infused beat with Declaime's vocals. Other than that, I'm not too thrilled by the beat that ended up being used for the majority of the track.

Out Like Dat opens up with a piano recording and a wavy electronic part that is looped for the first twenty seconds of the track. It eventually comes back in later through the track, but it isn't looped for as long. Other than that, it's a quick two minute track with a simplistic beat. Declaime talks about the time when his cousin that was shot. Luckily in Declaime's case, his cousin ended up surviving that event, but questions why they have to live this way.

We now arrive to the shortest track on the album, Massive Meltdown, which is just under a minute and a half in length. It opens up with some loud blaring horn sections, as well as some sample vocal parts added to it. We also get some chopped and warped parts thrown in on here. Declaime also has some small rapping parts on this track, but it seems like more of an interlude track based on the length of this track.

We now come to All Over The World, which was one of the promotional singles for this project. As stated about some previous tracks, you can definitely tell this is in the earlier stages of when Madlib was creating beats. We opened up with a wavy and groovy synth part with some light bell sounds. Other than that, we also have MED on this track, who has been a popular collaborator with Declaime over the years.

2 MC 95 opens up with an inaudible vocal part, and after a few seconds, the beat starts to come in with some more vocal sampling. This is another simplistic beat with just a small piano part and the drum beat, so I'm assuming this is more of a beat for Declaime instead of showing something shiny as a producer. According to Declaime, this was a track that he continued to rework and he had a version of this on one of his earlier albums.

The final track we have on the album is a short, under two minute track titled Outrose. As Declaime has mentioned, this is classic Madlib to end the collection on a high note. While the track sounds very rough around the edges, it's a jazz-influenced track with the sample included. While it is a fun track, it is very repetitive so I'm sure it will turn some people off, but it is catchy after a few runs through. This is also a purely instrumental track that ends the album.

Overall Rating: 6/10
Favorite Tracks: Cool Ways, Massive Meltdown, All Over The World, Outrose
 
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