The Unseen, Quasimoto 1999
I can't imagine an artist dropping a debut album like The Unseen in 2015. Why?.....because the talent level is much lower now than it was in 1999. Also, the online hip hop world of popular blogs creates the same insulated world from the underground talent because 90% of the blogs, just like 90% of the artists pander to that world for mainstream visibility, while claiming they are raw and/or underground.. Pandering for "mainstream" success is the norm in 2015, when it used to be an anomaly in the 90's. Also, listeners used to seek artists out in 1999. 2015 hip hop fans are lazy, only going to the main blogs or even TV to find new music. If Madlib dropped today, it probably wouldn't make as big of an impact and it's not because of the quality or creativity of his music. It wouldn't be as noticed because people stopped searching for unique music, which is typically underground music.
The Unseen is a perfectly produced album by the alter ego, Quasimoto. If you look at the lyrical samples alone, you can see how sharp Madlib's ear is. Just to name a few, Mobb Deep, De La Soul, Gangstarr and Common are used to give the hip hop alignment. Other than knowing the right mc's to sample, Madlib's interest in jazz and soul samples shows how far ahead of his time he was. If you listen to The Unseen, you'll hear why Dilla had to team up with him.
Madlib isn't trying to establish himself as the best mc, but you get a taste of how talented he is. The Unseen was re-released with the instrumentals and you could easily listen to that version by itself because that's how strong the beats are. It's a hip hop album for hip hop heads. If or when the world catches up with the creative genius of our culture and puts it out there as valuable, you'll have to seek it out and hold it close.