21 March, 2014@4:25 am
Gary, Indiana’s Freddie Gibbs has built up a solid buzz for himself over the last couple of years, being recognized as one of XXL’s Freshmen cover stars and landing a short-lived deal with Young Jeezy’s CTE imprint. With a long list of pending projects, perhaps the most anticipated of these was what was once called MadGibbs, a collaborative LP with Stones Throw producer Madlib. After the success of albums like Madvillainy and Jaylib, their new album, now entitled, Pinata, pits the two together in an attempt to recreate the same magic.
However Pinata, after numerous delays, is a victim of its own hype. This may have been because of sticky legal battles after Gibbs’ departure from CTE, which he all but addresses on the Young Jeezy dis track, “Real”. In perhaps the album’s most revealing moment, Gibbs destroys Jeezy with classic battle rap flavor and below-the-belt attacks on his person. “Seen Gucci by himself while we was 30 deep at Magic / And you didn’t bust a grape, was shook from the gate / It make it seem to me the gangsta shit you kick be fake / Cause all my enemies, I put them suckers in their place / So take them shades up of your eyes, and look me in my fucking face…”
Yet after two years of delays, its almost like we’ve heard many of Pinata’s greatest moments already. The album’s early single, “Thuggin’” is still the crown jewel of the LP, as Madlib weaves a hypnotic loop that juxtaposes perfectly with Gibbs’ bitter street tales. The same can be said for 2013′s double A-Side, “Shame” b/w “Harold’s”, the latter which finds Gibbs professing his love for his favorite restaurant, reminding us that this industry lacks quality food-rap in great supply.
Despite the fact that some of the best cuts were released first, this album still has plenty of standout moments. While Gibbs’ monotone style melts into Madlib’s basement beats, the addition of guest rappers shakes things up a bit, for good measure. Right of the bat, “High” – a lo-fi reimagining of the Freda Payne sample previously made famous by Styles P’s “I Get High” – is blessed with a surprise guest appearance from Danny Brown. The same can be said for “Bomb”, which lives out the fantasy of putting Raekwon over a Madlib beat.
In terms of the production, you pretty much know what to expect from Madlib. He was at the risk of over-exposure just a few years ago, releasing projects almost monthly at one point, so his recent hiatus was a good move. However the beats here are very pared down and subterraneous, and the album can drag on a bit. Meshed with Gibbs own unchanging style, the tracks bleed together at times.
What Pinata does achieve, is it takes both artists out of their respective comfort zones, rather than just continuing to work with their usual inner-circles forever and ever. At the end of the day, Pinata is a bold move and loud statement from both artists, but is an acquired taste that only some will enjoy.
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