Freddie Gibbs & Madlib :: Pinata
Author: Steve 'Flash' Juon
If one rapper can singlehandedly put Gary, Indiana on the map
as something other than the ancestral home of the Jacksons,
Freddie Gibbs is the man
to do it. If any rap artist can claim to be from an unapologetically
gangster city, he or she would be FROM Gary. ChiRaq may have
more fame from a greater level of rap exposure, but Gary is just 25
miles away and arguably as hazardous to the health of a young urban
dweller if not moreso. It's a city named after a steel mill that
helped the population explode in good times, that subsequently left
the same population bereft in bad times. Much like Flint, Michigan
when General Motors bailed, Gary attained its bad reputation due to
high unemployment and lack of opportunities, forcing residents left
behind to either relocate or survive hard times by any means necessary.
Gibbs does not claim to glamorize the gangsterism of Gary. Far from it.
He's apologetic to a fault about it in interviews, stating that
nobody should have to live the way Gary residents do, but that it's
a slice of American life that should be shown truthfully warts and all.
The only way things will change in economically depressed environments
is if the elite are forced to deal with the 99%, but neither the Warren
Buffetts or the Donald Trumps of this world will ever hear Freddie's
message on "Shitsville." They're content to live in their ivory
towers and pretend that level of poverty and violence doesn't exist,
while occasionally emerging from behind gated fences to make
charitable donations at gala balls to people they'll never meet.
It's too much to hope the 1% are tuned in, and since they're not we
might as well enjoy Madlib's production and Gibbs' rapid-fire rhymes.
"I went back and forth with some work done went threw a few plugs
This white devil society dare a nigga to do drugs
and dare yo ass to deal 'em, distribute and conceal 'em
My niggaz don't got no boats or no ports, how you think we get 'em?
Crack was black America's cup of coffee in the beginnin
When they crept up on you wiggers, you crackers couldn't fight the feelin
Motherfuck euthanasia I'll lace your food up with razors
Make you gargle with salt water, excuse yourself from my table
I fathered these fuck niggaz with fables; pussy I been real
Good on any street, up Shit's Creek, it's Shitsville nigga"
Much like America's drug problem, this isn't an album that just
sprung up overnight. Gibbs and Madlib have been collaborating as
far back as 2011, and material found here will be familiar to those
who have been down for the ride dating back to the first "Thuggin'"
EP. Madlib has never been
one to settle for working with average emcees, so you had to
suspect Freddie Gibbs was something special for them to collaborate
on a level only seen by the likes of MF Doom and the late J Dilla.
What makes Gibbs worthy is that there's more than just cinematic
street narratives to his Indiana flow - there's an underpinning
of political messages in even his most gangsterish flow. It's no
surprise when listening to "Thuggin'" that some of the promotional
artwork for this album parodied Ice Cube's "Predator" CD. Gibbs
is the reincarnation of street smarts with a Harvard mind, thugging
to survive while showing you that the WORLD is gangster.
"Phonies ain't gon' throw me in this minstrel show
These labels see how far up in they mouth my dick can go
So go'n and, choke on this meat, throw my song on repeat
Might move away one day but I'm always gonna belong to the streets
Never trickin on a dame, I'm too cold for you broke hoes
Don't let the knob hit your booty when the do' close, bitch
She let me hit it cause I'm thuggin
Squares need not apply, I'm so fly I might fuck her cousin
Swiftly 'bout to stick a sweet dick in your sweetheart
Then get some groceries off my geeker EBT card
Why the Feds worried 'bout me clockin on this corner
When there's politicians out here gettin popped in Arizona"
An intelligent gangster is what the 1% should be most nervous about,
because they're about to get beat at their own game. Gibbs and 'Lib
sound like they're on the verge of a rap revolution, and they're not
alone. Original gangster Scarface sounds like his glory days on
"Broken" - perhaps he needs to collaborate with Madlib more often.
The new generation gets love too as Odd Future members Domo Genesis
and Earl Sweatshirt rap on "Robes." Everybody gets a turn being
represented regardless of which region they hail from - one minute
it's AB-Soul and Polyester the Saint on "Lakers" and the next it's
BJ the Chicago Kid on "Shame." Madlib's beats are the lace that ties
this hour of music together, from hard hitting cold tracks like "Uno"
to chilled out kush smoke anthems like "High" featuring Danny Brown.
I recently took a five hour drive from Omaha to Wichita to cover
live fights as a reporter and if it tells you anything about my
measure of respect for "Pinata" it's the only album I listened to
on the drive coming or going. It's that good. Madlib produced albums
tend to only get better with age, and I don't expect "Pinata" to
be an exception. I'm giving it a high rating to close this review
as it is, but in a year or two, I could actually see it being
better than I think it is right now. The only downside for Gibbs
is that he has to try to top this album going forward.
EDITOR'S NOTE: My apologies for the lack of
tilde N in the review or album title - it always tends
to break from one editor to the next when making posts so I
opted to forego it altogether.
Music Vibes: 8.5 of 10
Lyric Vibes: 8.5 of 10
TOTAL Vibes: 8.5 of 10
Originally posted: March 25th, 2014