Freddie Gibbs & Madlib - Bandana
Jun 9, 2019 (updated Jul 4, 2019)
89
I really like the mixing technique on the new singles, this should be a generally solid album.

EDIT 7/5/2019: Bandana is a case study. Not only was it hyped up beyond every other hip-hop album this year, it met the expectations and often surpasses them.The line up for this record is a gold standard, delivering features from four of the most superb hip hop artists in the game, 15 beats from one of if not the greatest sample-based producers of all time, and 15 performances from one of this generations finest MCs, some of which beingGibbs’s best verses and flows. I knew, from my first listen, that this was better than Pinata not only for how it sounded better, but the way it completely upgraded the madgibbs aesthetic and showed an immediate improvement on technical rapping skills and wordplay even on the weakest parts. When I heard flat tummy tea, I was expecting a descent album, when I heard crime pays, I was expecting a pretty good album, and when I heard Giannu, I could see the Madgibbs project becoming bigger than the sum of its partd. With the release of Madgibbs, they have immediately impressed me with my first listen and I continue to find more and more excitement from it. Madlib’s production is so well textured, the drums are so crispy, the melodies are so full and engulfing, and the mix of gibb’s verses creates a sound that is as good ASMR as it is music. The sound is so satisfying, and the pacing does it even more justice as per usual with Madlib production. Previously Madlib had shown a knack for lo-fi aesthetics and old school beat making, but on Bandana, he tries some newer styles, some oddball melodic approaches, and larger sounds that could fill up a packed show as suitably as a groove to listen to in your bedroom casually. I’m not necessarily suggesting that I prefer this new approach over the likes of Madvillainy or Pinata per say, but I’m just really feeling the change of pace and direction for a producer who has been adjusted to a similar style he has already established himself as an expert in for his career. Madlib never loses himself in the sound either, as he still puts so much Madlib flavor in his beats amidst the lush auditory melting pot. Take songs like Palmolive and Giannis, songs with a very momentous aesthetic that feels yet so true to Madgibbs in the grand scheme of things. The verses on these things feel evn sharper than Gibb’s previous work. In terms of gangster rap, there is this unique feel I get from it called the “bar factor,” this goosebump sensation when you hear a cold ass bar, and more often than before, Gibbs gave me the bar factor. An expert at this field, Pusha T, who consistently gives me the bar factor with his verses, probably held the greatest magnitude on the project with his incredible guest verse on Palmolive. Killer Mike and Anderson .Paak dropped some great hooks on this thing, with Killer Mike’s very tough and catchy chorus on Palmolive and .Paak’s very regal vocal harmony on Giannis, a chorus from .Paak that was one of his best in recent memory for sure. Yasiin Bey and Black Thought, too, had some solid verses, catering well to the somewhat off the wall track “Education” that has a pretty strange song structure. Moreover, the song structures are so strong. The way Madlib’s beats develop and the way Gibbs casually lays out these bars that he often plays off at if he spat straight off the dome on tracks like Flat Tummy Tea and the accurately titled Freestyle Shit. More so on Gibbs’s perfomance as I haven’t covered it enough already even with it being his album, he showed that he truly is one of this generations finest rappers. Sure, his last few projects were not only weak on the production value but had some dull moments in terms of Gibbs’s perfomances, but consistently on this project, Gibbs had fiery flows, cold bars, and some pretty focused track thematics. The skits are fine and not too overdone, with the exception of the pretty long outro of situations. However, Gibbs doesn’t rely on them to tell his name. Half Manne Half Cocaine bluntly tells success followed by blunt stories of crack rock pushing in the “half cocaine” part, Practice talks about being disloyal to a lover, Education being about black struggles in institutionalization, so and and so forth. This album’s only problem was a couple weak Gibbs verses and choruses. I feel like Madlib did a great job stepping out of his comfort zone to sort of align himself more with Gibb’s style, while Pinata was more Freddie stepping into Madlib’s world, so the chemistry felt stronger on this thing as they find their perfect grey area, and Gibbs definitely carried his weight as well with this project being as great as it is, as mentioned, bringing out some if his best verses to date, amidst some weaker ones that cleary didn’t hinder the album too much. Overall, I am very glad Freddie Gibbs came back to the Madgibbs project and I’m overall very impressed with their work on Bandana. Its dark, textured, and thuggish to the core in such a good way.


By the way, this review is so long because I was on a four hour plane ride and figured I could kill some time writing about this album considering how much I liked it.

Favorite tracks: Freestyle Shit, Half Manne Half Cocaine (especially that ominous beat switch), Crime Pays, Massage Seats, Palmolive, Flat Tummy Tea, Giannis, Cataracts, Education

Least Favorite: Gat Damn
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