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We all just dived right into this as a living ongoing project, 24/7. After doing this for a year or two, one day Madlib said he'd like to work with Doom. Egon knew a guy who knew who knew Doom, and next thing you knew Doom was out too, "Doing bong hits on the roof out in the West Coast," like he says in the first track he wrote for the album. I really didn't realize what an idyllic time it was until things got more complicated a few years later.
What do you remember about the process of Madlib and Doom working together, and how did it shape your own ideas of how to present the music?
Jeff Jank: The most important part of their process is simply that Doom understood Madlib right off the bat. He understood where he was coming from with the music, how it connected with the records they listened to from the '60s-'90s, and Madlib's inclination to worked on his own in privacy. Doom was all for it.
I often picked up Doom from a hotel each day. We'd hit a liquor store around 10am. He'd write on the back porch, Madlib doing his thing downstairs in the bomb shelter. I don't know how to say this influenced the artwork other than I was there. Most of the time I was just concerned with the album getting finished. I also had this side hustle with Doom where we did a trade: I made him a painting in exchange for him placing a few challenging key words in the lyrics. Those words shall remain secret, but I'm happy to say he gave a shout out a couple of my cartoon characters Hookie & Baba in the lounge track "Bistro."
Somewhere along the way, the first demo Doom and Madlib did got leaked on the web, and it really soured the process for them. Both guys just figured they were done with it, on to the next thing. The process of getting them back to work took most of 2003, and the very last parts of the album were much harder than everything else. Right towards the end just about everyone was frustrated, and I ended up being the last guy in the studio doing a some minor edit here and there, which I'd never done before at Stones Throw. I drove home thinking, this is great music, great beat-maker, great emcee, and I got a shout out for my cartoon characters, life is pretty good.
Despite this, I was truly surprised at the love the album got. To this day I see new people discovering and being inspired by this record and I'm really glad I was a part of it. (It even makes the multi-year process of the mythical second album somewhat bearable.)
Being visually and graphically oriented himself did Doom have his own ideas of how he wanted the art to be executed?
Jeff Jank: Although I knew Doom from KMD days, I didn't know until a little later that Doom had drawn the cover of Black Bastards or had anything to do with visual arts. We talked more about that stuff later, but at the time all I knew was that he was going to be absolutely dead set against using his "face" on the cover. When he came over to check it out one day, his guy Big Ben Klingon just happened to be with him. I lucked out. Doom groaned when he saw a the picture, but Ben instantly got it. He was howling, "Look at this guy, what's his story?! This is perfect!" We have Ben to thank for the cover.
BEHIND THE VIDEO: Eric B & Rakim's "I Ain't No Joke" (1987) with Director Viven Goldman.