-->
Music

Freddie Gibbs and Madlib: Piñata

Madlib and Freddie Gibbs drop one of the best hip-hop albums in recent memory.


Freddie Gibbs and Madlib

Piñata

Label: Madlib Invazion
US Release Date: 2014-03-18
UK Release Date: 2014-03-18
Amazon
iTunes

In an interview with Radio.com, Freddie Gibbs was asked about his jab at Young Jeezy on the Piñata cut “Real”. “I ain’t worried about nobody coming at me lyrically. I make these sh*t diss records look like kumbaya…you come at Gibbs man that sword better be sharp.” Those are some fiery words and usually MCs would be running to send slicing tracks Gibbs’ way. But it’ll have to be one seriously ignorant rapper to challenge Gibbs after Piñata. Produced by the man, the myth, the legend, Madlib, Gibbs has made the finest record of his career and one of the best damn rap records in recent memory.

Anyone paying attention to the EPs that Madlib and Gibbs dropped before Piñata knew that something great was coming. Thuggin, Shame and Deeper all held fantastic tracks. The title track from Deeper was one of the finest hip-hop pieces from 2013, but it’s even better when placed among its brethren. “Deeper”, along with the rest of the tracks here, are fairly straightforward hip-hop, but each song is refined to pure excellence. This is probably Madlib’s best full album production work since Madvilliany and he thrills with his soulful and eclectic beats. There’s the breezy keyboard that pushes “High” along. “Uno” sounds like it sampled some of the Donkey Kong Country soundtrack, and “Knicks” is smooth New York jazz.

Madlib never stays in one place, but he makes it all sound so smooth. After the video gamey “Uno” is “Robes”, which is a smooth Mo-town throwback with a silky vocal sample. For nearly anyone else those two tracks couldn’t be placed next to each other, but in Madlib’s world it makes perfect sense. With these fantastic beats, the guests flourish. Danny Brown gives a high-octane performance on “High”. Raekwon brings extra menace to the already atmospheric “Bomb.” Ab-Soul’s laidback ode to his home town gives levity to “Lakers” and it’s sure to be a summer anthem for California residents. Even Odd Future shows up, with the ever hungry Domo Genius and the always dark Earl Sweatshirt on “Robes”. The only major complaint with the features is that Scarface doesn’t show up on the song titled “Scarface”; he instead drops a great verse on “Broken.”

The guests have a great chemistry with Madlib, but nothing comes close to the mad gansta genius of MadGibbs. Gibbs’ flow combined with the gorgeous soul background of “Deeper” is nearly as breathtaking as the story. Gibbs spins a tale of jail time and questioned paternity that will, to quote Gibbs, “cut a nigga deep.” Gibbs never sacrifices speed for lyrics and holds the best of both worlds. Madlib pushes Gibbs to top speeds on “Scarface”, “High” and “Real”. Even on wonky beats like “Real”, Gibbs owns it.

The truly impressive thing about Piñata is that when the album is at its top level, it’s nearly untouchable. “Shitsville” has an absolutely mad beat and is the gangsta anthem of the year. The aforementioned “Bomb” is equal parts swagger and threat. But even when MadGibbs are just having fun it’s amazing. “Harold’s” is Gibbs’ ode to his favorite Chicago restaurant. It’s fun, but Gibbs still sounds like a complete badass. “Scarface” has Madlib cooking up a beat in the same vein of Black Star’s “Definition”, but with Gibbs’ flow acting like a steamroller. “Thuggin’” is Gibbs in a nutshell: smooth, unapologetic and simply great. “Cause motherfucka I'm thuggin' / Selling you the science of the street rap / …I’m tryin to feed my family, give a fuck about your feedback.” Gibbs might not care, but Jesus has he made a stunning album.

9
Music

The Best Indie Rock of 2017

Photo courtesy of Matador Records

The indie rock genre is wide and unwieldy, but the musicians selected here share an awareness of one's place on the cultural-historical timeline.

Indie rock may be one of the most fluid and intangible terms currently imposed upon musicians. It holds no real indication of what the music will sound like and many of the artists aren't even independent. But more than a sonic indicator, indie rock represents a spirit. It's a spirit found where folk songsters and punk rockers come together to dialogue about what they're fed up with in mainstream culture. In so doing they uplift each other and celebrate each other's unique qualities.

With that in mind, our list of 2017's best indie rock albums ranges from melancholy to upbeat, defiant to uplifting, serious to seriously goofy. As always, it's hard to pick the best ten albums that represent the year, especially in such a broad category. Artists like King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard had a heck of a year, putting out four albums. Although they might fit nicer in progressive rock than here. Artists like Father John Misty don't quite fit the indie rock mold in our estimation. Foxygen, Mackenzie Keefe, Broken Social Scene, Sorority Noise, Sheer Mag... this list of excellent bands that had worthy cuts this year goes on. But ultimately, here are the ten we deemed most worthy of recognition in 2017.

Keep reading... Show less

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less
Music

The Best Country Music of 2017

still from Midland "Drinkin' Problem" video

There are many fine country musicians making music that is relevant and affecting in these troubled times. Here are ten of our favorites.

Year to year, country music as a genre sometimes seems to roll on without paying that much attention to what's going on in the world (with the exception of bro-country singers trying to adopt the latest hip-hop slang). That can feel like a problem in a year when 58 people are killed and 546 are injured by gun violence at a country-music concert – a public-relations issue for a genre that sees many of its stars outright celebrating the NRA. Then again, these days mainstream country stars don't seem to do all that well when they try to pivot quickly to comment on current events – take Keith Urban's muddled-at-best 2017 single "Female", as but one easy example.

Keep reading... Show less

Wars of attrition are a matter of stamina, of who has the most tools with which to keep fighting. A surprising common tool in this collection? Humor.

The name of the game is "normal or abnormal". Here's how you play: When some exceedingly shocking political news pops up on your radar, turn to the person next to you, read them the headline and ask, "is this normal or abnormal?" If you want to up the stakes, drink a shot every time the answer is abnormal. If that's too many shots, alter the rules so that you drink only when things are normal—which is basically never, these days. Hilarious, right?

Keep reading... Show less
9
Music

The Dear Hunter: All Is As All Should Be EP

Jordan Blum
Publicity photo via Bandcamp

Although All Is As All Should Be is a tad too brief to match its precursors, it's still a masterful blend of songwriting, arrangements, and singing that satisfies the Dear Hunter anticipation.

The Dear Hunter is undoubtedly one of the best—and consequently, most egregiously underappreciated—bands of the last decade or so. Aside from 2013's Migrant LP, every one of their major releases featured an ambitious hook; for example, 2011's The Color Spectrum presented nine EPs (consisting of four songs each) that individually represented a different sonic tone (in order: Black, Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet, and White), whereas the five-part (so far) Act saga, with its genre-shifting arrangements, superlative songwriting, narrative complexity, and extraordinary conceptual continuity, is a cumulative work of genius, plain and simple.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image