Nowadays, Madlib is one of the few hip-hop producers of the modern era still truly deified, in some circles at least, so long after releasing what many would consider his most essential work. Only Dilla really beats him in terms of esteem in the battle of the 2000s indie-rap godheads.
It's with good reason, of course; from the rickety, warped boom-bap of Lootpack's Soundpieces: Da Antidote, to the blunted insularity of Madvillainy, right on to the out there, continually shifting Beat Konducta series, he has created some of the finest and most inventive hip-hop of the last couple of decades. All things considered, it speaks to the quality of the project that one of his most highly regarded releases have come from the weeded out, sex crazed, helium voiced cartoon character named Quasimoto.
The magic of Quasimoto is that that album, and his classic debut The Unseen, might have sounded like an odd prospect at first, but given just a little time, Madlib's pitched up vocals begin to combine perfectly with the low-level depravity of the lyrics to create something as worthy of some kind of critical appreciation as it was amusing. It's a trick that is shared with all of the tracks on Yessir Whatever; it might have been the better part of a decade, but just a few bars in and you are plunged right back into Quasimoto's hilarious, hallucinatory world. It feels like he never went away.
Of course, what truly keeps Quasimoto from becoming a tiresome vanity project is the music backing him up, and as ever, Madlib delivers here. Those familiar with the beat smiths work won't be surprised by anything, but that doesn't matter when you have a short set of vintage Madlib productions. Right from the opening bounce of funk guitar on 'Broad Factor', it's pretty easy to tell that, if these are outcasts from pervious projects, they just serve to demonstrate the kind of plain this guy consistently operates on. 'The Front' is straight up future funk with a street level grit, 'Seasons Change' is a soul-infused head-knodder playfully tweaked and gently pulled at the seams, while 'Brother's Can't See Me' and 'Catchin' the Vibe' are slices of exactly the kind of sleepy looped bluntedness that first made Madlib's name in the late nineties.
Madlib also pops up vocally too, vocals non-fucked-with, usually to provide an everyman counterpoint to Quas' casual hedonism, chastising rats, doing bong hits and complaining about how cigarettes he smokes. Madlib, whether straight or in Quas mode, has never really been known for his rapping in any kind of technical sense, which makes sense. He has a heavy-lidded, often off-beat flow that seems purposefully clumsy, but that should only really turn off someone who listens to people spit for skills above all else. It's really a perfect complement to the beats and the concept as a whole, and the fact that such apparently half-assed rapping works so well just adds another layer of likability the music.
The only weakness that Yessir Whatever might have to long term fans is that it is slight compared the records that it follows; inherent goofiness aside, those two albums were long and dense, and Yessir Whatever doesn't feel like a journey in the same way. At half an hour it is roughly half the length of them both, and the nature of collections like this is that they are less thematic. Still, it holds together remarkably well, never once feeling disjointed. In a way it's nice to have a shorter dose of Lord Quas at hand in case you are after a looser listening experience but don't feel like discarding the blunted bounce and raucous punchlines that make him so unique.