Freddie Gibbs & Madlib’s sophomoric album is a powerful and sprawling statement
Since 2014’s collaboration ‘Piñata’ announced Freddie Gibbs & Madlib (or MadGibbs) as a heavyweight hip-hop duo, expectations have been high for their next move. ‘Bandana’, which dropped last week, is a highly assured effort that builds upon the strengths of both and channels the rich creative energy of both artists. Gibbs provides an assured and concise lyrical accompaniment to Madlib’s diverse production, the two raising each other’s game. Through some surprising twists and turns, the record demands repeated listening. This isn’t arduous, though, with the record already talked about as a contender for hip-hop album of the year.
Apparently utilising beats mostly rejected by Kanye from his ‘Life of Pablo’ album, Madlib excels here. The album is emblematic of his archaeological approach, unearthing eclectic musical treasures and marrying these together seamlessly. That all the beats were made on an iPad speaks to his abundant talent. Gibbs effortlessly weaves his words around the music, his flow easing and speeding up in perfect sync. ‘Flat Tummy Tea’ is a perfect example of his dexterity in this sense. This is vital in holding more disjointed numbers such as ‘Half Manne Half Cocaine’ together.
With collaborations from Pusha T and Killer Mike (on ‘Palmolive’) and Anderson .Paak (on ‘Giannis’), this album is a powerful and sprawling statement. That Gibbs has spent the years between ‘Piñata’ and ‘Bandana’ releasing middling solo material speaks to the strength of Madlib’s producer talents. Less raw, perhaps, but more mature than their debut, ‘Bandana’ manages to stand out even in a golden era of hip-hop. The two seem set to link up for a third release in the trilogy. On the showing of their collaborations thus far, that should be essential listening.
‘Bandana’ is available now on all platforms. Freddie Gibbs & Madlib will play Astra on November 1st.
A Scottish troubadour, scientist, writer. Jack of few trades.