Don’t let anyone ever, ever tell you that hip-hop is dead, okay?
Freddie Gibbs and Madlib are back and god damn, they are killing it! It’s an unconventional pairing, Freddie hailing from Gary, Indiana, and known for his gritty coke raps (Think Pusha, but still a half-step away from the street) and Madlib, a heavyweight L.A. producer who’s been around over two decades and is responsible for more than a few legendary albums. In 2014 the duo teamed up to release Piñata, one of the most acclaimed hip-hop albums of the 2010s, and this summer they return with Bandana, a magical record that’s hard as hell, yet quirky as all get-out.
I must stress that Gibbs and Madlib really are two forces at the top of their game, and that dynamism is what makes Bandana satisfying to hear. Madlib’s productions are snappy and unique, with dusty soul samples and fleet, chopped up sounds. When Madlib gets in his groove his productions are really out of this world and unlike anything you’ve heard. It both contrasts and suits Gibbs, who is frank, cold, and calculating. Gibbs has got plenty to say when it comes to pushing weight, staying a step ahead of the feds and those who plot his downfall, and the sheer stress and mental weight that years of doing dirt has saddled on him. Hell, he wrote a good chunk of the album while locked up abroad, feeling like he was never gonna get out, and that paranoia, anger, and knowledge shows. There’s also a bit of humor and oddity throughout the album, from the Japanese narration, to the amazing skit of the pastor urging listeners to not give a fuck. This album is really a gem!
“Crime Pays” is one shining moment on Bandana, and the video is ace. It’s Gibbs and Madlib doing what they do best. Gibbs sounds especially refreshed, his lines full of boasts, threats, and lyrically bullshittin’ (in a great way). The tune, with the soul sample, is simple and ridiculously catchy too. This video is terrific, where Freddie has retired from the coke game, breeding zebras (a common lyrical and visual reference in the duo’s music…you know why) in the mountains…Mt. Kane, to be exact. It’s all good!