Allow me an example of just what I'm babbling about. MF DOOM is a sometimes-prolific artist, and his long running Special Herbs series of instrumental tracks from his various albums and producing gigs is the kind of interesting-but-inessential trifle I mean. They function pretty well as albums in their own right, the sort of kind you might spin when a friend is over and only a couple times a year listen to on your own. It's not as good as hearing the finished products with rappers over them, in the same way that Madlib's tracks here should be "not as good" as hearing them fleshed out with rappers.
However, Madlib's old friend J Dilla likely taught him something about instrumental hip hop with the legendary Donuts, because these songs are even more fleshed out and enjoyable than you'd expect judging by, say, early Madlib circa The Unseen by Quasimoto or mid-period Madlib as heard on Madvillainy by Madvillain. But enough of that technical crap. Madlib finds some deep grooves and head nodding hooks in some unlikely places in those vaults. It's the kind of stuff most MCs would kill to rap over but not be good enough for. A non-rapping appearance by even the formidable MF DOOM on one of the tracks also speaks to how complete Shades Of Blue is without MCs.
Anyway, it comes on two records, so you know the sound quality and mastering is great. And if you're a fan of Madlib, you're probably a record hound who knows what a difference that makes. Or anyway, you're probably a record hound who'd dig this album a lot.
5 Poorly Drawn Stars Out Of 5