Freddie Gibbs and Madlib - Piñata (Review)

Freddie Gibbs and Madlib - Pinata (Real Hip-hop)

"Piñata" is the first collaboration album between Gary, Indiana emcee Freddie Gibbs and Los Angeles producer Madlib. The album features guest appearances from Danny Brown, Raekwon, Scarface, Ab-Soul, Domo Genesis and others and is fully produced by Madlib himself. It was released on March 18, 2014 via Madlib Invazion.

1) Supplier - Skit.

2) Scarface - The first song on the album has a funky instrumental with a strong Blaxploitation vibe running throughout. The beat is perfectly suited to Freddie Gibbs' flow, as the Gary, Indiana emcee comes through and spits a few violent rhymes about "another day in Gary." Too bad this is so short since the actual song only lasts about a minute and a half. Still, this is fire and is a great way to kick off the album. - 4/5

3) Deeper - This song was released in promotion of the album quite a while back and its just as dope now as it was then. Madlib laces the beat nicely, utilizing some chopped up violins, strings and a vocal sample during the chorus, while Gangsta Gibbs spits a story about a woman who left him when she decided she didn't want to be with a "bad boy" anymore. Very dope track. - 4.5/5

4) High (featuring Danny Brown) - Freddie Gibbs and guest Danny Brown spit some drug raps over another ill instrumental that finds Madlib using the same sample as Styles P's classic "Good Times" track, but with a different flip of the sample. The beat is real smooth and Gibbs spits his ass off over it but Danny Brown sounds really weak on here. I know he can rap, but sometimes he just goes way overboard with the crazy voice changes. Despite the weak verse from Danny, this song is still real dope. - 3.75/5

5) Harold's - The beat on this cut has a funky guitar loop with a subtle vocal sample and hand claps that should get your head nodding despite the lack of drums to really drive the instrumental. As far as the lyrics go, Freddie comes through and reminisces about getting his license, getting laid and eating at Harold's Chicken Shack out in Chicago. Very nice. - 3.75/5

6) Bomb (featuring Raekwon) - Madlib delivers a banging instrumental with some ambient synths, soft keyboards and other layers of samples blended over the hard ass drums for Gangsta Gibbs and Wu-Tang Clan's Raekwon the Chef to spit fire over. The beat is real nice and both emcees rip it, kicking some of their usual violent street rhymes and actually sounding really good together on the mic. This is probably my favorite song on here so far. - 5/5

7) Shitsville - Freddie Gibbs kicks some depressing rhymes about violence in the ghetto and about being up shit's creek over another crazy instrumental full of frantic violins and boom-bap drums. Once again, the beat is real ill and Freddie Gibbs just rips it, spitting his rhymes in a rapid-fire flow and riding the beat effortlessly. Dope shit. - 4.25/5

8) Thuggin' - Oh shit. Madlib delivers an absolutely beautiful instrumental full of what sounds like some sped up chimes or piano keys and then layers them over dusty drums. The beat is probably my favorite instrumental on the album so far and Freddie wastes no time ripping into it, spitting some more thug shit in his crazy flow and unique voice. This one is fire. - 5/5

9) Real - This song starts off with a real aggressive instrumental with some interesting synths and percussion over the deep bass before switching up to a more laid-back, spacious instrumental about a minute in. Both of the beats are dope, with the second being better in my opinion, and Freddie Gibbs just bodies them both, choosing this song to spit some venomous lyrics directed toward his former boss Jeezy. Another banger. - 4.5/5

10) Uno - Just when you think the beats and rhymes couldn't get any better, this happens. Madlib's instrumental on this cut is absolutely beautiful, with an ethereal and breezy sample layered over stomping drums, and Gangsta Gibbs just murders it, rapping about being a real G in a tongue twisting flow. This. Shit. Is. Fire. - 5/5

11) Robes (featuring Domo Genesis and Earl Sweatshirt) - And it doesn't stop there. Madlib comes through with another banging instrumental, this time with a soulful vocal sample, soft keys and minimal drums that make the beat feel as light as air. Lyrically all three emcees are on point on here as well, although I'd have loved to have heard a verse from Currensy over this instrumental. Regardless, this shit is fire. - 5/5

12) Broken (featuring Scarface) - It's going to be hard for anything to top the last few tracks and this track doesn't quite do it. Don't get me wrong, this cut definitely bangs, but the past few songs have been standout tracks on the album for me. With that being said, the beat on this one is a little more somber than the past few, with a resonant, soulful vocal sample and minimal drums. Lyrically both Freddie and southern legend Scarface sound perfect over the beat, rapping about being dead broke and about growing up poor. Very nice. - 4.5/5

13) Lakers (featuring Ab-Soul and Polyester the Saint) - Gangsta Gibbs and TDE's Ab-Soul team up for this ode to their hometown of Los Angeles while Polyester the Saint provides some nice vocals on the chorus. The beat has a real summery feel to it and everyone comes correct, with Ab-Soul probably having the weakest verse despite still sounding really nice on here. This is blazing. - 4.5/5

14) Knicks - Complementary to the previous song, Madlib comes through with another lush instrumental with a heartfelt vocal sample and light keys that give the beat a real breezy vibe. Lyrically Freddie Gibbs rides the beat nicely, reminiscing about the old days selling drugs and watching basketball. Dope shit. - 4.5/5

15) Shame (featuring BJ The Chicago Kid) - The beat on this song fits in nicely with the soulful theme of the past few cuts, with Madlib delivering yet another chopped up vocal loop over dusty drums. As before, the beat is real nice and Gibbs rips it, rapping about warning a woman that she is just a one night thing and to not catch any feelings or she will have to take the walk of shame back home alone. Very nice. - 4.25/5

16) Watts (featuring Big Time Watts) - Skit.

17) Pinata (featuring Domo Genesis, G-Wiz, Casey Veggies, Sulaiman, Meechy Darko and Mac Miller) - As you can tell by the amount of emcees featured on here, the final song on the album is a posse cut and it's just ok for me. Madlib's beat is dope enough at first, but it starts to get repetitive due to the length of the song, which clocks in at over 5 minutes for the actual track. Add to that verses that didn't really grab my attention outside of Freddie, Meechy and Domo Genesis and you have one of the weaker songs on the album. Mac Miller especially seems lost over the beat and ties Danny Brown for my least favorite verse on the album. - 3/5

I'm going to rate the album

4.5 / 5

because pretty much the entire album is fire. The beats are absolutely brilliant throughout, with Madlib coming with a variety of sounds while keeping with the soulful theme of the project at the same time. The album has some crazy sped up samples ("Thuggin'", "Uno"), some Blaxploitation themes ("Scarface"), some breezy, soulful beats ("Lakers", "Knicks") and some harder instrumentals  as well ("Real", "Shitsville"). Lyrically the album is just as consistently dope, with Freddie Gibbs murdering every track on here. He sounds so much better over instrumentals like the ones on this album than he does over the trap beats that were featured on his "ESGN" debut album. Hopefully these two team up again in the near future and put out more of that fire.

Favorite tracks: Thuggin', Uno, Robes, Bomb, Lakers, Knicks


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