In an age where it seems that most entertainment is made up of remakes and sequels, targeting our wallets through nostalgia, rapper Freddie Gibbs and producer Madlib’s second collaborative album solidifies this duo’s legacy, rubbing shoulders with its 2014 predecessor.
2019’s Bandana had big shoes to fill in the wake of Piñata, a classic rap album which received enormous praise from critics and rap fans alike upon its release. This new effort maintains the same grimy sporadic urgency of its 17-track long forebear. Over 45 minutes and 15 tracks, Gibbs’ lyrics etch vivid images of poverty, desperation, drug dealing, and street violence. These themes are enhanced by Madlib’s instrumentation which while in parts is sleek and polished, remains raucous, jarring, and entirely riveting. This contrast plays perfectly into the album’s portrayal of the harsh gangbanging lifestyle Gibbs, and many American rappers, lead “before this music shit was moving, man”.
The production on Bandana is a breath of fresh air in a rap landscape saturated by repetitive, bass-filled trap beats. Madlib’s samples range from 70’s soul and funk bands, to 90’s reggae and the iconic James Brown. They all flow harmoniously into one smoldering, preposterous soundtrack that bolster’s Gibbs’ wordplay, wit, and vision. The guest features on this album are tighter and more stringent than Piñata – artists like Anderson .Paak, Pusha T, Yasiin Bey, and Black Thought all add layers of character to the tracks they appear on.
This intense, engrossing album has affirmed both artist’s reputations as two of the best working in their respective fields right now. Once more, MadGibb has produced a classic album which will appeal to the casual rap fan and the enthusiast alike.
At a time where the rap zeitgeist lacks excitement and innovation, Bandana has delivered with ferocity, emotion, and intelligence.
Nicholas Lane – Music Writer