Way back at the start of 2011, Peanut Butter Wolf put out an edition of the Stones Throw podcast highlighting music that was due out on the label that year. After snippets of two great songs from the still-unreleased second Madvillain album (one of which turned out to be a Doomstarks track), we were treated to “Two from Rock Konducta.” No other information was provided, and two years later the Rock Konducta project was still nowhere to be found. It seemed destined to join the second Madvillain album, Supreme Team, a bunch of recorded but unreleased Yesterdays New Quintet records, and who knows how many other exciting projects in the overflowing boxes of never-to-be-released Madlib music. A shame, since the two Rock Konducta songs on the podcast were a promising move away from Otis’ normal rap/jazz comfort zones.
Even though Rock Konducta appeared to have been left unfinished, ‘Lib didn’t abandon rock altogether. The sixth volume in his Madlib Medicine Show series, Brain Wreck Show, was a mix exploring the farthest out rock records in his crates, including a ton of mind-destroying Brainticket tunes. Soon after MMS #6, Madlib went over to Europe for some (eventually cancelled) shows with the psychedelic voyagers in Embryo. It’s still unclear what those shows would’ve entailed, but based on the advance press it sounded like Madlib would have been onstage with a synth or some other instrument playing alongside the band. Like when he spent thousands of dollars on instruments because he up and decided he was going to make jazz music over a decade ago, it looked for a while like Madlib was going to go full steam into the world of rock. Unfortunately, right after these Embryo shows got cancelled, the Rock Konducta went back into hibernation, and there was little indication that that particular persona would be revived.
While all of this was going on, Madlib partially retreated from his home on Stones Throw Records to cofound Madlib Invazion with Egon, his manager and the founder of Now-Again Records. Egon’s greatest accomplishment over the last few years has been the unearthing of the seventies Zamrock scene in Zambia. The fuzzy, sun-baked records by Amanaz, WITCH, Paul Ngozi, and Rikki Ililonga have been some of the greatest revelations to come out of the reissue community in the last few years. Proximity to Egon’s Zamrock explorations apparently rubbed off on Madlib, as Egon’s Zambian record collection served as the bedrock for the third Madlib Medicine Show Beat Konducta in Africa.
Now we have word that Madlib will be doing a Zamrock-centric show in San Francisco on Friday, June 7, where he will be selling a limited edition 7-inch preview for the revived Rock Konducta album. Not too surprisingly, the a-side from the single, “The Mad March,” sounds a lot like a continuation of Beat Konducta in Africa. It also sounds like Madlib has really refined the sound he displayed on “Two from Rock Konducta,” perhaps explaining the two year delay between the podcast and this announcement. Unfortunately, I can’t just up and fly to San Francisco to go to the show and buy the vinyl, but I’ll be first in line at the store when the full Rock Konducta album comes out. Now can we just get some news on the MadGibbs album?
More info on Madlib’s SF Zamrock show and on the Rock Konducta album can be found here. There's also a brief mention that Madlib and Yasiin Bey might be traveling to Zambia to record a joint album in the near future (here's hoping!).