Push Comes to Shove

(Stones Throw; 2005)

By Chet Betz | 7 November 2007

Medaphoar’s been guesting on Stones Throw releases for the past couple years (see: Madvillainy) with his super conventional rapping, acting as a sort of anchor for tracks that would otherwise sound just as faded as everything else Madlib exhales. With Med’s debut for the label, Madlib conforms to the straightforward bump that Med tries to achieve. Crafting singles like cheese slices seems to bore Madlib, but he did it ably on 2004 releases like The Slickness by Prince Po and The Grind Date by De La Soul, so why not for the in-house rap prodigy? Here comes Stones Throw’s 50 Cent.

The boredom shows, though. While Quasimoto buried and blurred his breaks this year, Madlib channeling Dre puts his 808 drums way up front, but, whoops, they suck. They have a sucking rhythm, even: chooga chooga chooga choo-choo chooga, etc. People who like trains could probably appreciate, but who really likes trains?

With the single “Push” and the rumbling “So Real,” J. Dilla, wack-ass drum connoisseur, actually contributes the best percussive thumps on an album for once. Not that his hits are much more complex, but at least the drums have an interesting texture to them, whereas Madlib’s “Can’t Hold On” has all the vintage '80s beat sound of a Michael W. Smith recording. Thankfully, Madlib’s sample and key composition go a long way on most of these songs (though nothing saves the Dipset-ready “Pressure”), and a decent marriage of drum and sample on “Serious” makes it a hot, superior twin to Mr. Cent’s current single.

Madlib brother Oh No’s fantastic follow-up track, “What U In It For?” finishes the set up of a serious bump theme to the album, and by the time everything’s said and done, Push Comes to Shove is probably the most bumpin’ underground hip-hop LP since, well, ever. Should anyone question that, Med could simply offer up the fact that “Get Back” is produced by Just Blaze. “Just Blaze, bitch, that’s right, he produced a track. Most bumpin’ underground hip-hop album ever. Just Blaze. Don’t believe me? I got my liner notes right here. See? Just Motherbumpin’ Blaze.”

Medaphoar’s not exactly the most skipping of stones with his wordplay, and he’s no 50 Cent when it comes to rhyming on beat or delivering catchy hooks. Med and the production are terribly consistent… consistent to the point where he almost never switches up his flow and the music starts to sound a bit redundant. At least it bumps, though. At least it bumps.