I think I”m pretty hard to impress when it comes to rap. Or music in general. But in particular, rap. I mean, I can enjoy a lot of stuff casually, like this year’s stuff by Erick Sermon, B.o.B., Anderson Paak, etc. But to really get me, to stay on repeat on my playlist…Well that takes something more.
MadGibbs have it.
Now, Madlib’s been around for a long time–he’s worked with the titans of both mainstream and underground hip hop: MF DOOM, Erykah Badu, Tha Alkaholiks, De La Soul, Lootpack, J. Dilla (as Jaylib), and on and on. So him making fantastic, intricate, and devastatingly innovative beats is no surprise. Freddie Gibbs is about a decade younger in his career, but he’s made a fairly big splash–the real headz know him, but he’s got more to prove here. And man does he show and prove. He goes off on slavery on the single, “Flat Tummy Tea,” talks heavy about family on “Situations,” but then has fun with models on “Fake Names” and drops modern knowledge on “Education.” He’s versatile, smart, and he can be serious without being corny. I think my favorite lines come from “Cataracts,” where he raps about going from “la vida broke-a” to selling crack and “living la vida coke-a,” but the album is full of great lines and deep bars.
Best of all, Gibbs doesn’t rely too much on guest spots, and when he does, he gets the best and they give their best.
Killer Mike and Pusha T appear on “Palmolive,” where Pusha offers his usual dope-selling chronicle, but gives up some great bars: “I took a risk, I took a brick, took a road trip to a Motel 6.” (Note to my readers: Pusha T is my #1 rapper, so I’m biased in favor of any album he’s on.)
Black Thought and Yaslin Bey appear on “Education.” Anderson.Paak appears on “Giannis,” and the timing is a perfect way to break the album into a brief neosoul vibe. And the rest is pure MadGibbs.
Too many good artists put out too much mediocre rap these days. Bandana is the exact right length, all meat no filler, and leaves the listener wanting more.