Piñata - Freddie Gibbs & Madlib
Freddie Gibbs is a rapper who has been a respected veteran in the game for years, but with the release of 2019's Bandana, also with Madlib, his mainstream notoriety had begun to pick up. Picking up a Grammy nomination last year for his album with The Alchemist, fans are waiting to see what Freddie has got in store next. Piñata is revered by many as a classic album of the 2010's, and I am certainly not going to disagree with that.
Scarface is an amazing introductory track to the album, setting the pace with Madlibs' high speed instrumental and Freddie matching the energy throughout the track with his fast flows. Freddie's lyrical content is top tier, as it is throughout the album, but the energy he brings puts you in the projects with him while he's rapping about his old life. Deeper is one of the strongest cuts on the album with a lavish instrumental from Madlib, a strong, fast-paced flow, and a great story about Freddie's love interest leaving him for being too gangsta. The instrumental changes its pace to match Freddie's fast verses and more calm bridges, with a classic twist of the woman and her husband giving birth to their first child, where Freddie alludes to being the father.
High with Danny Brown features one of Madlibs best instrumentals on the album as it's vibrant but relaxing and clouded, not to mention a beautiful vocal sample woven into the chorus. Freddie and Danny both give excellent verses, rapping about getting high and everything that comes with it, and an abrupt ending to the song followed by a skit of someone who appears to get too high. Harold's features one of Freddie's better hooks on the album, with the downside being he repeats it for most of the song, which could make the track a bit boring and dull as it drones on, but it is only a weak track when compared to the other songs on Piñata. Bomb features yet another energetic and high tempo flow from Freddie where he has great bars throughout the song. On Bomb Freddie is accompanied by Raekwon, of Wu-Tang Clan fame, who drops a great verse, but seems slow compared to Freddie's electric performance.
Shitsville is a high speed banger with a grand and orchestral instrumental, one of Madlibs best I might add. Freddie drops bar after bar about how people should quit acting like they're better than him when they very clearly aren't. Freddie also drops a comedic and catchy hook to add some icing to the cake. Thuggin' features tales of Freddie's past in the dope game, as he raps about he loves thuggin' and drops a great lyrical performance to go with it, painting vivid pictures along the way. My only issue with Thuggin' is that the instrumental can get a little bit irritating as the track progresses. Real features a distinct, abstract instrumental reminiscent of Madlibs earlier work with MF DOOM, but Freddie raps over it better than expected. After the beat switches a little earlier than halfway through abruptly to a more relaxed instrumental where Freddie slows his flow down but continues to talk his shit about being the realest out. Real is a great track but I wish we got two separate, more developed tracks out of both of the instrumentals.
On Uno Madlib pulls off a bouncy yet smooth instrumental where Freddie flows like a madman yet again, dropping more great bars throughout, saying he's one of the best and then proving why. Robe's features one of Madlibs more slowed down and cloudy instrumentals, more akin to Earl Sweatshirt's music. Which is good because him and Domo Genesis, of Odd Future fame, both drop great verses on the track, neither of which being better than Freddie however. Broken has another cloudy instrumental from Madlib where Freddie raps about his some of his struggles and keeps repeating the refrain "Keep the heat on me because I'm going through a cold phase." Scarface also makes an appearance on the track that is pretty good, but his rough delivery makes him sound out of place on the instrumental.
Madlib delivers a lavish and luscious instrumental on Lakers where Freddie raps about his time spent in LA and pays homage to it, mentioning it to be his home despite hailing from Indiana. Ab-Soul, from Top Dawg Entertainment also gives an amazing guest verse with good one-liners and even better double entendres, though not being quite on par with Freddie. Lakers also features the best chorus on the album delivered by Polyester the Saint. Knicks is just an all-around great track with high end contributions from Freddie and Madlib on all fronts. Shame with BJ The Chicago Kid has another more slow paced instrumental with an angelic vocal sample; Freddie continues flowing uncontrollably, dropping bars and telling stories about his relations with different women and how he hurt them or vice versa. Piñata is a grand finale to what has been an amazing album. A posse cut with an intense yet elegant instrumental, and memorable verses from Freddie Gibbs, Meechy Darko, of the Flatbush Zombies, Mac Miller, among other smaller acts who all put on a great performance. Talk about saving the best for last.
I personally believe Piñata to be an undeniable classic from the 2010's. Freddie put on an amazing and exhilarating performance from his vicious flow, to his complex lyrics that build up his charismatic persona. Madlib also put on a great performance with consistently great production throughout, with the small exceptions on the tracks Harold's and Thuggin'. However it is constantly made up for by Freddie. Piñata is also a very high energy and engaging album, keeping your attention for the full hour run time. Freddie delivers fairly subpar choruses at times, but once again makes up for it with his more vulnerable and story heavy tracks being the best on the album. Not to mention on an album with some legendary features and contributions Freddie is not outperformed once. Living up to his self-proclaimed legend status.