This Week in Hip-Hop and R&B History: Quasimoto Drops Debut Album, The Unseen

The Unseen

– June 13, 2000 was the date that Madlib officially introduced his Quasimoto alter ego to the world with his first solo project, The Unseen.

17 years ago today, DJ, producer, multi-instrumentalist, and rapper, Madlib, officially split himself in two separate entities and subsequently delivered one of the most classic hip-hop albums of all time. That album is none other than The Unseen; released by Madlib’s newly created alter ego and side project, Quasimoto.

The Quasimoto character was birthed from Madlib’s desire to rap over his own production. However, with a voice he felt was too deep for his intentions, he used some studio magic to create a high-pitched voice effect similar to that used on Prince’s 1986 album, Camilla. Madlib proceeded to establish his alter ego as a “bad character”, with Quasimoto saying everything that he would say if he was on the mic himself. While the birth of Quasimoto was something different and creative with his high-pitched voice alteration and witty and introspective lyrics, this still only shows a small portion of the unmatched musical genius Madlib showcased when he released, The Unseen.

While Madlib allowed his double, Quasimoto, to take the front seat with the project’s vocals, he stole the show with his jazzy and smooth, yet choppy and gritty, production. Madlib accomplished this by first using an assortment of “found sounds” that he snatched from the most interesting people and works of art such as Augustus Pablo, Melvin Van Peebles, and the eccentric French film, La Planete Sauvage.

Interludes and dialogues were also well mixed into the album – including an encounter with a subpar record store that killed Quas’ crate diggin’ vibe. They were so well mixed in fact, that you’d likely have no need or desire to skip any tracks. You’ll be nodding along to the next 3 songs before you even notice that you finished listening to the first one. This is a major accomplishment, especially because of the album’s wide-ranging production, sporadic spurts of lyricism after substantial periods of instrumentals, and unpredictable song structure.

Happy Listening!

Written by DJ Robinson

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