This 1997 Underground Hip-Hop Radio Show Includes A Rare Madlib Freestyle (Audio)

In late 1997, Madlib was a fledgling MC/producer. The Oxnard, California artist had laced a handful of joints for Tha Alkaholiks and Boot Camp Clik’s O.G.C, while trying to get his Lootpack group off. In those days, as expected, not a lot of people were yet checking for the would-be impresario.

One outlet that was keenly aware of Madlib was the Word Up Radio show. Hosted by Warren Peace, Pizzo (, and Mr. Bob, the Las Vegas, Nevada indie radio spot was a mainstay for Underground Hip-Hop. On December 5 of ’97, Madlib and the homie Declaime (n/k/a Dudley Perkins) rolled through. Near the 56:00 mark, the two California hopefuls check in. With only one working mic, Madlib proves early to be a man of few words. However, when the beat kicks in (right before the 59:00 mark), it’s on and poppin’. The Beat Konducta and Declaime bust rhymes. Not surprisingly, the style is unconventional, highly original, and inventive—especially from Dudley. Then Mad’ comes holding the mic close, and the vibes loose. The freestyle goes right into a mix, showcasing the catalog.

Even before he was working with Yasiin Bey, Kanye West, and Erykah Badu, Madlib would be known as a recluse (shunning almost all interviews from 2000-2015). Clearly, this early look is something special—between the freestyle and the live conversation.

Heads can hear standout early singles by the likes of MC luminaries such as J-Live, PumpkinHead (R.I.P.), and another Likwit Crew affiliate Defari. There is a pre-LMFAO Redfoo, pre-Black Star Talib Kweli, Wu-Tang affiliates Remedy and Shabazz The Disciple, and mid-1990s Papoose joints. More mainstream Heads can catch Kool G Rap & B-Real, Big Pun, and LL Cool J sprinkled in.

In the last 10 minutes, there’s some Madlib and Lootpack preview tracks (played straight off of a demo cassette tape). Some of these elements would make way to 1999’s Soundpieces: Da Antidote! breakthrough. Wildchild and DJ Romes would join Madlib for one of Stones Throw Records’ most interesting acts.

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