It seems that Madlib lives in a universe far beyond the reaches other producers and MCs. For Yesterday’s Universe, his fifth release under the Yesterdays New Quintet moniker, the production monster lets his jazz hands loose and serves up a hip-hop album that eschews all formulaic conventions–even where aliases are concerned.

To understand Yesterdays New Quintet, one must understand Madlib’s obsession with the idea of the alias. Within the YNQ moniker, he takes on the musical personalities of Young Jazz Rebels, The Last Electro-Acoustic Space Jazz & Percussion Ensemble, Jackson Conti, and Suntouch, to name a few. Each “artist” within this “quintet” performs a different derivative of the nu-soul/free jazz sound. Suntouch delivers a standup bass-driven, spacey-jazz adventure, while Sound Directions and Ahmad Miller rely on soulful breaks and more structured flute and piano leads.

For Yesterday’s Universe, the man also brings in a few other (physical) collaborators, including Mamao (Azymuth) and Karriem Higgins (Slum Village). So the genius at work isn’t entirely alone (well, he never was if you include his interpersonal mass of aliases).

Yesterday’s Universe will also mark the end of the YNQ dynasty, as the band will retire after the album’s release. What’s up, confusion?

Yesterday’s Universe is out July 3, 2007 on Stones Throw.

1. Otis Jackson Jr. Trio “Bitches Brew (M. Davis)”
2. The Jahari Massamba Unit feat. Karriem Riggins Trio “Umoja”
3. Young Jazz Rebels “Slave Riot (D. Smith)”
4. The Last Electro-Acoustic Space Jazz & Percussion Ensemble “One for the Monica Lingas Band”
5. Kamala Walker and The Soul Tribe “Street Talkin”
6. The Jazzistics “Marcus, Martin & Malcolm”
7. Suntouch “Two for Strata East”
8. Sound Directions “She’s Gonna Stay”
9. The Last Electro “Acoustic Space Jazz & Percussion Ensemble “Cold Nights And Rainy Days”
10. Otis Jackson Jr. Trio “Free Son”
11. Jackson Conti “Barumba (L.Eca, Bebeto)”
12. Ahmad Miller “Sunny C (California)”
13. The Eddie Prince Fusion Band “Mtume’s Song”
14. Yesterday’s Universe All Stars “Vibes from the Tribes Suite (For Phil)”
15. Jackson Conti “Upa Neguinho”