Sound Ancestors

by Madlib

Released January 29, 2021 via Madlib Invazion

Reviewed February 10, 2021

Top tracks (based on community voting)
The Road Of The Lonely Ones (65%), Two for 2 - For Dilla (63%), Dirtknock (30%)

Another Madlib Invazion is upon us, and its title implies his search for enlightenment in the music that has defined him. Sound Ancestors feels like the recurring ritual that brought you every Madlib album before this, as his foraging for unique sampling material is so prolific that its clear he has tuned his ears to the channel of his soul. With the percussive sounds of Sound Ancestors displaying a range of geographic influences, it expresses the artist’s genealogy through several phases of the album. Considering it feels a little more than just another beat tape and is seasoned with so many years of great music prior, Sound Ancestors is proof that Madlib continues to age like wine. – DeVán (8.5/10)

Madlib needs no introduction. He’s one of the hip-hop’s most heralded figures, and for good reason. Has has consistently dropped classic beat tape after classic beat tape, and it goes to show that even when Madlib isn’t at his peak, he’s still better than pretty much anyone at what he does. Effortlessly, he’s able to pack in so much detail while making it digestible as a background listen, perfectly walking the line of easy and engaging. Whether it be sputtering synths, avant-garde sax, or a sultry soul vocal sample, he always manages to stun by turning things on their head and bringing a new light to something older. It seems as if he really took the ancestral theme to heart, as most of the beats come out with an ethereal edge that feels spiritual in nature. It’s not the most perfect or unique tape out there, it’s just Madlib being Madlib… and who doesn’t want that? – Jared (8/10)

Madlib is unanimously amongst the top of the ranks due to his collaborative efforts. But his solo projects are often the ones where a listener can thoroughly see how much influence he absorbs and how well he diverts that into something entirely original. Sound Ancestors gives fans yet another opportunity to investigate the producer's ability to scour the musical realm for untapped source material. Through his keen ear for isolating and reworking minute details, he creates a cohesive and modest, yet fascinating soundscape unlike anyone else's. – Pax (8/10)


Madlib's been on a bit of a mad one over the last 6 or 7 years. The whole Gibbs collaboration seems to have sparked a new air with a pairing that can go toe-to-toe with the elites of the game. However, Sound Ancestors steps out of that spotlight and into the late night, dingy dungeon studio sessions. 'Sound Ancestors' is a weird animal. It seems all over the place and somewhat scattered, then it aligns with a laser pointed focus to let the listener in on a little secret: That it's all intentional. Some artists are more interested in the creation of an experience rather than a track-by-track record. This is one of those experiences. It can get frustrating to listen to at times, as it breaks its flow on countless occasions, but that's all part of the aforementioned experience - at least it seems. It's too inconsistent to be thoroughly enjoyable, but its inconsistencies make it quite the enigmatic trip. – Peter (7/10)


DeVán: 8.5/10 | Jared: 8/10 | Pax: 8/10 | Dominick: 7.5/10

Enth: 7.5/10 | Hadley: 7.5/10 | Peter: 7/10