After giving us the Thuggin’ EP (2011) as well as the Shame EP (2012), Gary, Indiana emcee, Freddie Gibbs, and legendary producer, Madlib, have linked up once more and released the full-length LP entitled, Piñata.
Now, I do not usually begin my reviews with an outlandish statement, but this particular project has forced me to; I would be surprised if I hear a better Hip Hop album this year. Everything about this album is near perfect. First of all, Madlib is at his usual immaculate standard on production, giving the album a classic feel from beginning to end, allowing Gibbs (as well as the various featured artists) to seamlessly do what they do best. With Gibbs being one of the more conventional rappers that Madlib has collaborated with, people doubted whether he could manipulate the beats effectively but Gibbs does exactly that on almost every track.
In terms of standout tracks, there are plenty to look out for, to the point it would be easier to name the tracks that were slightly under-par. If I had to limit myself to my five favourites they would probably be, ‘Deeper’, ‘Real’, ‘Robes [Ft. Domo Genesis & Earl Sweatshirt]’, ‘Thuggin’ and ‘Shame [Ft. BJ The Chicago Kid]’.
‘Deeper’ is your stereotypically smooth Madlib production, beautifully handled by Gibbs as he reminisces about an ex-partner. Meanwhile, ‘Real’ is one of my favourites due to Gibbs’ relentless shots aimed at (Young) Jeezy for his mismanagement of Freddie’s career whilst signed to CTE. Domo and Earl are perfect fits on ‘Robes’ as Madlib’s suave production allows them to comfortably express their thoughts, while Freddie Gibbs raspy delivery is also faultless as he finds space to take further shots at (Young) Jeezy. ‘Thuggin’ and ‘Shame’ were part of the duo’s earlier EP’s but still fit alongside the rest of the album seamlessly, with more extraordinarily impeccable production from Madlib making Gibbs’ rough style shine through regardless.
As stated at the start of this piece, I would be very surprised if I enjoy another Hip Hop album this year as much as I enjoyed Piñata. The juxtaposition of Madlib’s smooth production and Gibbs’ rough voice and gangsta rap style work perfectly in tandem, in addition to the appropriately placed guest features. It would be a shame if this were the last we see of these two artists working together, especially considering how this effort turned out.