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Madlib I-Hop MP3

Moonlighting as Beat Konducta, the prolific hip-hop producer Madlib has grafted, in both senses of the word, some 35 bite-sized chunks of instrumental hip-hop into Beat Konducta Vol. 1-2: Movie Scenes, due out next month. One entry, “Understanding (Comprehension)” (MP3), is available as a free download currently from the set’s releasing label, Stones Throw.

A crowd’s laughter opens into a sped-up sample, easily mistaken for the standard Kanye West on helium, before the meat of the mid-tempo i-hop kicks in: a beat with a little needle fuzz on it, an orchestral snippet and a single vocal cue adding highlights, and then that upper-register voice gets scratched back in. There’s nothing like when you can hear the warble, the variation, in the vinyl as it’s manipulated by hand. On repeated listens, that one vocal accent, a hiccup at most, takes on a life of its own. What starts as a trailer becomes a short film unto itself, all in less than a minute and a half.

Beat Konducta Vol. 1 was released last year straight to vinyl, all strange miniatures like the incessant looping of “Third Ear (More)” and the extravagantly lo-fi orchestration on “Stax (Strings).” But great as vinyl is for DJs, it’s nice to have the tabula rasa of a CD (or MP3) against which to hear the first- and second-generation noises. More info at stonesthrow.com.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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