Words About Music
Freddie Gibbs & Madlib “Piñata”
One of hip-hop’s best all time producers is Madlib. In fact, he’s pretty much the go-to guy if you’re looking for an incredible beat laden with weird samples and an old-timey sound. MF DOOM knew this ten years ago when him and Madlib collaborate on the “Madvillainy” project. Now it’s time for a new rapper to being what I hope to be a long-lasting partnership with Madlib, and it’s a pretty unexpected collaborator. Freddie Gibbs is a gangsta rapper from Gary, Indiana that is based in Los Angeles. He’s established his persona over the past few years with some great mixtapes and a good album or two. But, like I said, a collaboration with the usually subdued sounding Madlib is a collaboration I don’t think anyone could’ve foreseen. The resulting album “Piñata” is a great combination of Gibbs’ classic 50 Cent flow and Madlib’s perfectly crafted and stylistically erratic beats.
Now if we’re to compare “Piñata” and “Madvillainy,” I think it’s pretty obvious which one is better. “Piñata” isn’t a perfect album, and a lot of the eccentricities that you couldn’t even really call skits are pretty much lost on me. If it were a more straightforward album then I’d probably enjoy it more, but some of the weirder moments, like the song “Watts,” don’t really strike me as necessary. I will say that I really enjoy a lot of the guest verses, though. Shout out to Danny Brown, Raekwon, Earl Sweatshirt, Domo Genesis, Mac Miller, and Meechy Darko for delivering some great guest bars.
Another problem I have with the album is that it’s really really long. While 17 songs isn’t a big deal if we’re dealing with 2-minute songs, but most of these lean more towards 4 and 5 minutes. The closing track is eight and a half minutes long, only half of which features actual rapping. Now I’m not stepping on Madlib’s notoriously avant style of making beats or creating songs, and I think that Gibbs and Lib do great work together, but the catchy choruses on songs like “Harold’s” and “Shitsville” do more for me than any of the weird parts. I’ve never been a fan of skits on hip-hop albums, and this album is no exception.
Complaints aside, “Piñata” is a solid release that really shows that two artists of differing styles can collaborate and not sound like try-hards (take that, Jay-Z and R. Kelly). While Freddie’s thugged out style goes well with hard-hitting beats, Madlib’s music complements him just as well, if not better. If anything, “Piñata” has an old school feel that incorporates Los Angeles sounds and New York sounds. It’s boom-bap-meets-gangsta-rap. It’s not an incredible album, and maybe not as awesome as I was hoping, but it’s still a great collaboration that puts Madlib back on the map and shows even the backpackers that Freddie Gibbs has artistic merit.
SCORE – 7.8
FAVORITE TRACKS – Scarface, High, Harold’s, Bomb, Shitsville, Thuggin’, Robes, Lakers, Knicks, Shame, Piñata