Piñata by Freddie Gibbs & Madlib on Apple Music

17 Songs

EDITORS’ NOTES

At first glance, the pairing of producer Madlib and rapper Freddie Gibbs seems unlikely. The former is the ultimate crate-digger, known as much for his reclusive tendencies as his endless collection of obscure soul, jazz, rock, and other musical ephemera; the latter is a street-hardened former dealer who rhymes about the perils of the dope game. But they say opposites attract, and in this case their two aesthetics complement one another. Gibbs is a nimble, gifted rapper, his syllables quick-stepping around Madlib's many twists and turns, from the grainy '70s soul-funk of "Scarface" to the half-time disco of "Harold's" to the hazy West Coast G-funk of "Thuggin." The duo's credentials are strong enough to pull some of hip-hop's finest into their orbit: oddball Danny Brown contributes a verse to the squirming "High," while the crews from The Wu-Tang Clan, Top Dog Entertainment, and Odd Future are all represented (via cameos from Raekwon, Ab Soul, and Earl Sweatshirt, respectively). As a final shot of gravitas, Scarface drops a verse on "Broken." It's a deserved blessing from one of hip-hop's finest MCs to one of its most unlikely but successful pairings.

EDITORS’ NOTES

At first glance, the pairing of producer Madlib and rapper Freddie Gibbs seems unlikely. The former is the ultimate crate-digger, known as much for his reclusive tendencies as his endless collection of obscure soul, jazz, rock, and other musical ephemera; the latter is a street-hardened former dealer who rhymes about the perils of the dope game. But they say opposites attract, and in this case their two aesthetics complement one another. Gibbs is a nimble, gifted rapper, his syllables quick-stepping around Madlib's many twists and turns, from the grainy '70s soul-funk of "Scarface" to the half-time disco of "Harold's" to the hazy West Coast G-funk of "Thuggin." The duo's credentials are strong enough to pull some of hip-hop's finest into their orbit: oddball Danny Brown contributes a verse to the squirming "High," while the crews from The Wu-Tang Clan, Top Dog Entertainment, and Odd Future are all represented (via cameos from Raekwon, Ab Soul, and Earl Sweatshirt, respectively). As a final shot of gravitas, Scarface drops a verse on "Broken." It's a deserved blessing from one of hip-hop's finest MCs to one of its most unlikely but successful pairings.

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2:49
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3:46
3:34
2:47
5:04
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3:39
3:03
1:55
8:33

About Freddie Gibbs & Madlib

In 2009 rapper Freddie Gibbs set out to be the Midwest's unofficial street poet, releasing a series of mixtapes that were as complex as they were thuggish. Influenced by the likes of 2Pac, Biggie, UGK, and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Gibbs filled his lyrics with honest and compelling stories of his hometown's demise, a steady decline to which he helped contribute while a drug dealer. He dealt out of a Gary, Indiana recording studio, absorbing a steady stream of uninspired rhymes while pushing product. Figuring he could do better, Gibbs began writing his own lyrics and cut some demos that would eventually land in the hands of Interscope. When the label signed Gibbs in 2006, he moved to Los Angeles and recorded a debut album, but a year later the management of Interscope changed hands and the rapper was dropped. He returned to Gary, and then moved to Atlanta until producer Josh the Goon convinced Gibbs to return to L.A. for one more try. In early 2009 he released the Miseducation of Freddie Gibbs mixtape to critical and message board acclaim. The Midwestgangstaboxframecadillacmuzik mixtape soon followed, as did a feature in The New Yorker that found writer Sasha Frere-Jones declaring Gibbs "the one rapper I would put money on right now." Late in the year he released the 81-song mixtape The Labels Tryin' to Kill Me. As the mixtape's title inferred, Gibbs had, like Jay Electronica, become a 21st century Internet-age hip-hop star, able to draw press and earn a loyal following via downloads and mixtapes instead of the usual industry channels. He finished 2009 proudly unsigned but in 2010 he made a rare aboveground appearance with the Str8 Killa EP, released on the Decon label. Two years later he released two collaborative efforts: Piñata with Madlib, an album on the underground producer's Madlib Invazion label; and The Tonite Show with DJ Fresh, an entry in the West Coast producer's collaborative series. Gucci Mane, E-40, and Tory Lanez landed on 2015's Shadow of a Doubt, his first album for the ESGN label. In early 2017 Gibbs released "Crushed Glass," the first single from his third full-length LP, You Only Live 2wice, which dropped later that March. ~ David Jeffries

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