For underground hip hop fans, Madlib is an untouchable producer. Between the legendary 2004 classic Madvillainy with MF DOOM and his earlier collaboration with Freddie Gibbs, Pinata, he has created a reputation as one of the greatest to ever do it, thanks in large part to his sample-heavy production that gives his songs the same vibe as the original song being used in the instrumental. Freddie Gibbs is one of the best rappers of the decade and arguably in the top 30 of all time. So for these two to drop another album, especially after the success of Pinata, it feels like an essential chapter in hip hop history.
Both Madlib and Freddie prove their versatility on this album. The aggressive “Half Manne Half Cocaine” is a great example of this, where the song starts as a trap banger surprisingly enough, but soon suddenly turns into a booming stop and go drum beat with Freddie aggressively spitting about his drug-dealing days in Gary, Indiana. The next track is “Crime Pays” and it might be my favorite on the album. The beat is a classic sounding Madlib sample, and halfway through the song, Freddie starts rapping at a fast-paced flow that we’ve never really heard to this extent before. The sample is one of the smoothest I’ve heard and fits perfectly with the rapping. Another highlight is the lead single, “Flat Tummy Tea”, where Freddie comes in like a cannon, rapping about politics and police brutality over a scathing electric guitar sample.
This project takes everything great about Pinata and I would argue improves on it. This is my favorite album of 2019 so far and if you have any interest in hip hop at all then I can’t recommend it enough.