Freddie Gibbs. It’s been a long journey but as he’s progressed and remained ever-so consistent, it’s become clearer: Gibbs is special. To what extent? Well… that can be argued. Gibbs was once signed to Interscope in 2006 but was dropped soon after management changed. Perhaps they didn’t see his potential commercially. Something which they’ll probably regret as his following and fan base is increasing gradually. In fact, his long-awaited but recently released “Bandana” became his and Madlib’s best-selling album. It outperformed their preceding joint album, “Pinata”.
Over the course of 10 years, Freddie has dropped plenty of music – often varying in style. The most notable projects being “Pinata” in 2014, “You Only Live 2wice” in 2017, “Fetti” and “Freddie” in 2018 alongside his latest effort, “Bandana”. Pinata being his most heralded effort to date. One word to define Pinata? Classic. Created as a duo with Madlib, the project saw Madlib’s elite production matched by intuition and presence. With ill deliveries, incredible guest features and eclectic yet orgasmic production – the album still garners replay value due to their kindred union.
You Only Live 2wice. Often underrated by Gibbs fans, the project is a standout based on a few things. The first being Gibbs’ ear for production. Gibbs’ instrumental choices are perfectly crafted and able to complement his style with ease. Effortless flow switching, high rhyme density, compelling narration, and a confident delivery. The project showed Gibbs was capable of creating a high-quality full-length project without reliance on Madlib’s production.
Fetti. Gibbs is lucky to be able to call a handful of elite producers and create projects whenever he seemingly can. In fact, Gibbs was not only able to call upon Alchemist, but the project was also released in collaboration with the immensely talented, Curren$y. Gibbs’ grittiness, upbeat delivery, and fast-paced flows were matched with Curren$y’s laidback flow and calm tones. Over soul-bearing or jazz-inspired Alchemist production, there’s clear chemistry as the project embraces Gibbs’ aggressive style while allowing Curren$y to float over instrumentals. The album carries some of Alchemist’s best production choices in years.
Gibbs continued his hot streak through the release of Freddie. Unlike his prior projects, Freddie had a stronger inclination to trap music. While Gibbs has always had street content (often delving in drug-dealing tales), he usually rhymes over eclectic or jazz/soul-inspired records. However, the project sees the production laced with hard-hitting 808s while Gibbs explores new flows, creates enticing catchy hooks while his content is purely based on his drug-dealing activities. The dark production meets his bass-filled vocal tonality, aggressive style, and dark content. It pretty much cemented how Gibbs can rap over anything.
Gibbs prematurely spoke of the creation of Bandana while it was still in its infancy. Due to the heights of their prior collaborative album, expectations of MadGibb’s second album were incredibly high. Although making their fanbases wait for three years, it was well worth the wait. The project is incredible in any facet. While having a wide variety of production styles, Madlib’s known for his revered lo-fi sound. On Bandana, his production is ear-catching, vigorous and quite frankly… astonishing. Gibbs’ performance is equally as striking.
Gibbs rhymes with purpose. No bar is wasted. His content ranges from speaking about black power, his idols, their experiences, and setbacks. He somehow learns from their misfortunes while tying in his own experiences. On Bandana, Gibbs explores black freedom, religion, and death. Not only was the subject matter enticing, but Gibbs also rhymed skillfully. He changes cadences and switches flows – often quickening the pace when needed or slowing his flows down to create vivid images. He’s able to evoke emotion out of the listener because of his powerful deliveries and avid storytelling. The album’s guest contributions were also worthwhile. Pusha T, Black Thought and Yasiin Bey all delivered remarkable verses while Anderson .Paak and Killer Mike delivered palatable and enjoyable hooks.
Bandana capped off a long list of great music released by Freddie Gibbs. It possibly cemented his place amongst the best discographies within the last ten years. It illustrated his consistency and elevated his name into more pressing conversations. His discography within the last 10 years sees him in conversation with Kendrick Lamar, Earl Sweatshirt, Roc Marciano, KA, Curren$y, Mac Miller and Rick Ross. Aside from that, Bandana is a current frontrunner for Hip-Hop album of the year. While it’s too early to tell, the project is certainly special and something to behold. It reinforces the growing notion that Freddie is truly a top 5 rapper. Off the strength of his lyrical ability, production choices, and his discography – it’s hard to criticize that idea.
Gibbs might just be top 5.