While no one expected that the heavily hyped collaboration between West Coast beat conductor Madlib and Detroit Ÿberproducer Jay Dilla would be mediocre, few anticipated an album that is both as wildly eclectic and immediately accessible as "Champion Sound." On "The Official" and "The Mission," Madlib brings the lo-fi jazz vibe that he perfected on this year's "Shades of Blue" album, while the spare beauty of Detroit techno reverberates through Dilla-produced tracks like "The Heist" and "React." The album reaches its zenith on "The Red," where a soulful vocal sample wails atop a thumping bass line that begs to be blared out of car speakers. The album's format -- with each producer rhyming over the other's beats -- is going to cause a lot of heated debate among fans over who came the strongest. My vote goes to Madlib's vocals coupled with Dilla's tracks; the Beat Conductor's blunted, laconic flow deftly slides into the spaces between Dilla's jagged, minimalist beats. While the actual lyrics -- which revolve around rims, herb and "poppin' collars" -- may be inconsequential, it's really difficult to care when the music is this sweet.
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