This article originally was posted by myself on reddit, but has since been expanded and edited. Some knowledge of DOOM and Madlib is presumed.
2001 — pre-Madvillainy
In 2001 MF DOOM (born Daniel Dumile January 9 1971) was living between New York and Atlanta. His album Operation: Doomsday had released in 1999 but his record label, Fondle ’Em, had since closed down. Left without a record label DOOM produced work for other artists such as MC Paul Barman’s Paullelujah! album and the Godzilla themed hip hop group Monsta Island Czars where DOOM appeared as King Geedorah.
Madlib (born Otis Jackson Jr. October 24 1973) had joined Stones Throw Records in 1998 when label owner Peanut Butter Wolf heard his group Lootpack, subsequently releasing their debut album Soundpieces: Da Antidote! in 1999. This was followed by Madlib’s Quasimoto project The Unseen released in 2000, but by 2001 Madlib had abandoned hip hop in favour of his jazz projects, which were destined to be the demise of Stones Throw records.
Egon, Stones Throw’s general manager at the time, was trying to get Madlib back in to hip hop. A Lootpack reuinion album was attempted but didn’t come about, and then in an interview with LA Times (which doesn’t appear online, but is alluded to here) Madlib mentioned two artists he would be interested in collaborating with in thefuture: Jay Dilla, and DOOM. Coincidentally Egon had a friend who knew DOOM and so a package of Madlib’s music was sent to him in the hope of getting DOOM and Madlib together so that Madlib would return to hip hop. Likewise Madlib and Jay Dilla got in contact and in 2002 announced their collaborative Jaylib album Champion Sounds would be released in 2003.
2002 — Recording starts
At this time Stones Throw was being run out of a house in LA with Madlib making music in a bomb shelter underneath the house. After some negotiation DOOM came to LA and would spend his days at the house writing.
DOOM talked about the initial meeting in a 20011 interview with Red Bull:
I got a call one day from Peanut Butter Wolf, up there in Stones Throw, a good friend of mine. Big up, Wolf. He mentioned this cat Madlib, I wasn’t familiar with his work at the time. I guess he heard some of my stuff and he was reaching out to me, wanted to do a record together so he could give me some beats and whatnot. So at the same time, I was doing records with a…