Over 5 years after the release of their last collaborative album 'Piñata', MadGibbs are back at it again, creating what seems to be a masterpiece.
The opening lines of the first real track 'Freestyle S**t' go: Warning: the surgeon general has determined that the sounds you are about to hear, will always be devastating to your ear, sleep well. This warning could not have been more true. The album is a cinematic story about life on the streets, told with incredible lyricism, infused with experimental soul production, along with a few skits in-between tracks. On 'Piñata', it seemed that Gibbs and Madlib were still coming to terms with each others styles, with a few things on the album sounding a little rough around the edges, even though it was still a great body of work. Those few inconsistencies have been well and truly figured out on this record.
To me it sounds like two greats of hip-hop at the height of their powers, coming together to tell some incredible stories, sounding like Madlib's best work since Madvillainy, and Freddie Gibbs' best work ever. This is probably Gibbs' best lyrical work too, with every single bar being spat with incredible technical skill and lyricism. Other great lyricists such as Pusha T, Killer Mike Yesin Bey and Black Thought appear on this album, but Gibbs manages to hold his own, never sounding second best, even among some of hip-hops lyrical goliaths. Because of the sheer quality of Gibbs' performance, I felt immersed in the street stories he was telling, which added to the cinematic greatness of the record. Madlib complements this almost perfectly, as he mixes 1970's soul into the production to help add to the gritty kind of realism that Gibbs manages to bring.
Gibbs manages to bring authenticity and realism to the album, sounding like a man who has seen far too much. This is shown in moments such as when he raps: Every-time I sleep, dead faces, they occupy my brain which shows that Gibbs still sees his dead friends or enemies whenever he sleeps, constantly haunting his conscious. The realism is shown in other moments too, such as when he raps about using a bandana to wipe fingerprints off of a murder weapon. In terms of technical rapping skill, it is one of my favourite albums in recent memory, due to the performances of Gibbs and the supporting cast, with Madlib directing these stars like the genius producer he is.
Madlib's beats create a backdrop to the story that Gibbs is telling, never being too much or to little, infusing samples like someone who is a master at their craft. This album is perfect for people who want to hear traditional hip-hop, telling some of the best stories I can think of. I loved this album from start to finish, with it being consistently great throughout, giving Tyler, The Creators 'IGOR' a lot of competition for my current album of the year, and it is my favourite rap album so far too.
Favourite Songs: Flat Tummy Tea, Cataracts, Palmolive