Live bands are criminally underused in the world of hip-hop. For a genre that relies so heavily on samples from old R&B and soul bands, one would think that more artists would harness the raw intensity that comes from live instrumentation. While The Roots have been the standard-bearers for live hip-hop for decades, the U.K.-based group Abstract Orchestra has made waves with their renditions of classic hip-hop with big band instrumentation. In their debut LP Dilla from 2017, they honored the legendary producer J Dilla, and they followed that up by tackling the Madlib and MF Doom collaboration Madvillainy. The second part of that project entitled Madvillain Vol. 2 is out now on ATA Records and the group is premiering a live performance video of the song “Rainbows” today on EARMILK.
Led by saxophonist Rob Mitchell, Abstract Orchestra gets to the essence of “Rainbows,” which itself is a sample of “Kelly” from Russ Meyer’s LP Finders Keepers Lovers Weepers. The group delivers the track’s bouncy beat, funky horn stabs, and Doom’s chant-like vocal lines with expert musicianship. James Russell’s fiery sax solos offer some of the video’s most exciting moments. Like their work on Dilla, Abstract Orchestra does justice to Madvillainy with energy that could only come from a live band.
Stream or buy Madvillain Vol. 2 here.