Freddie Gibbs and Madlib are legends in their respective categories. Gibbs has this gangsta rap sound that seems to fit more in the early 2000s. Madlib is a genius cratedigger who will create a beat from anything. Somehow, these two came together to collaborate on a project. And god damn, did they create a masterpiece! Piñata came out in 2014 and it has aged like fine wine.
Freddie has this mean voice. It’s one of those voices that you can hear every struggle he has ever been through and he shows it through his verses. Each song tells a story in the most lyrical of ways. “Shitsville”, “Thuggin'”, and “Deeper” all demonstrate some of his best work. In each of these tracks, he spits heat. He doesn’t miss a single word or rhyme. We also need to take a minute to acknowledge the all-star cast of features on the title track “Piñata”. Freddie brings in a ton of talent throughout the album but the last song might have one of the best lineups of hitters. Think of it like the Murders’ Row of rap. Mac Miller, Meechy Darko, Casey Veggies, Sulaiman, G-Wiz, and Domo Genesis. Are you kidding me? And it isn’t like any of them have weak verses. They all go ham on the mic.
Alright. We have talked about genius producers on this blog before. However, no one comes close to the talent of Madlib. He is the definition of a crate digger; literally, sampling anything and everything and making it sound good. Between jazz, soul, blues, and electronic beats, Madlib somehow figures out a way to blend them all perfectly together. Each beat brings its own sound and style that makes it hard to expect what is coming up next. “Uno” is by far my favorite beat on the entire album. He creates these “skits” of sorts at the end of many of the songs. Some are songs, some are just talking pieces, and others are mixes of instrumentals and spoken word. If you know old school hip-hop, you may start to see a comparison to Mecca and the Soul Brother from Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth. Each has little, seemingly unconnected instrumental samples that just fit with the respective projects.
This part of the project ties it all together. You have this rapper from a rough background with this hard, angry at times voice. Then you get a genius producer who only seems to use unconventional styles and beats. The production of the album perfectly brings the two together in harmony. We also see some of the smoothest transitions ever. Period. All these new rappers and producers need to listen to this project as an example of how you create flow and use transitions to set up songs. This is how a rap album is done.
Listen to the whole album. I’m serious. But listen especially to “Bomb”, “Shitsville”, “High”, “Knicks”, and “Piñata”.
I don’t have much to say other than wow. This album is rap perfection. These two men are geniuses, one on the mic and the other in the studio. I can’t deny it. Piñata gets a:
If you haven’t listened to this album please do. You’ll understand.