This collaborative project between Los Angeles emcee and independent veteran Blu, Oxnard CA emcee M.E.D., and the legendary producer Madlib was an intriguing one from the get-go. Just from glancing at the tracklist and features on Bad Neighbor, I knew that it was something I had to listen to. Being a huge Blu fan for several years now, I’ve been less than impressed with his past few releases. On his album Good to Be Home, many of the tracks were not studio mastered and I didn’t appreciate, nor understand the low-fi effect. Coming into the record I didn’t know much about M.E.D., other than that he appeared on the classic Madvillainy album back in 2004.
Bad Neighbor is truly what I would consider a star-studded project. There’s features from many PALM all-stars like Odd Future’s Hodgy Beats, Phonte of Little Brother and The Foreign Exchange, MF Doom, and Mayer Hawthorne. All of the songs these artists guest appear on are strong. The production on Bad Neighbor is traditional Madlib style: highly eccentric while still returning to boom-bap here and there. I like the mix of old school samples and ambiguous lyrics. The album is really about the chemistry not just between Blu, Madlib, and M.E.D., but along with whoever features on the particular track. I dug “The Strip” featuring Anderson Paak and “Burgundy Rose” featuring Jimetta Rose.
All in all, Bad Neighbor was a fun project. It sounded a lot more like a mixtape than an album. The only downfall was the fact that lyrically it’s missing the punchlines that past collaborators such as Fashawn, Krondon, or Evidence would be bring to the table. Nevertheless Bad Neighbor earns 4/5 PALMs!