Freddie Gibbs – “$oul $old $eparately” review

This is the 4th full-length album from Indiana emcee Freddie Gibbs. Coming up in 2004 with his debut mixtape Full Metal Jackit, he would then sign to Interscope Records for a brief period of time until he left without dropping an album with them. This was made up for with the mixtapes The Miseducation of Freddie Gibbs & Str8 Killa No Filla, which would catch the attention of Jeezy & land Freddie a contract with CTE World in 2011. However, Gibbs eventually left CTE the following year after releasing the tapes Cold Day in Hell & B.F.K. (BabyFace Killa). In 2013, he decided to form his own label E$GN Records & finally dropped the full-length album E.$.G.N. (Evil $eeds Grow Naturally). He & iconic Oxnard producer Madlib would drop their MadGibbs debut Piñata the year after that, which is EASILY one of the greatest hip hop albums of the previous decade. Gibbs continued to grow his profile after that with Shadow of a Doubt, You Only Live 2wice, Freddie & the Curren$y collab EP Fetti & who can forget MadGibbs’ sophomore effort Bandana or even Freddie’s last effort Alfredo produced by The Alchemist? But after much anticipation, Gibbs is dropping $oul $old $eparately in light of E$GN’s new distribution deal with Warner Records.

“Can’t Be Done” is a soulful trap opener with Gibbs talking about doing the impossible whereas “Blackest in the Room” takes a jazzier route thanks to Uncle Al comparing himself to Sam Cooke. Offset tags along for the decent trap banger “Pain & Strife” talking about making that bread just before “Zipper Bagz” works in some hi-hats & a chilling vocal sample provided by KAYTRANADA admitting all he knows is that & yayo.

Meanwhile on “Too Much”, we have Moneybagg Yo coming into the picture to assist Gibbs for a boring trap cut that aged like milk since dropping as a single last month with all respect to everyone involved prior to Rick Ross & Jake One helping him make it up in the form of “Lobster Omelette” spitting lavish bars on top of a sample-based beat. “Space Rabbit” is a synth/boom bap hybrid produced by Boi-1da & Rogét Chahayed detailing Cocaine City, but then “Feel No Pain” with Anderson .Paak & Raekwon somberly prays that they good forever.

“Rabbit Vision” calls out someone who went against a family oath over some smooth J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League production also admitting he still has love for Jeezy also while the DJ Paul-assisted “PYS” comes through with a jazzy trap banger talking about being pimps. “Dark Hearted” finds James Blake sonically fusing pop rap & hip hop soul admitting that he still has mob ties even though he’s rich now while “Gold Rings” with Pusha T of course spits that hustler shit over a nocturnal instrumental. The song “Grandma’s Stove” somberly opens up about depression while the penultimate track “CIA” by MadGibbs returns to jazzier turf making it clear that he needs the check & the bar mentioning him getting continuously banned from Instagram is priceless. “Decoded” however brings in one of Gibbs’ idols Scarface for a bluesy closer to the album hooked up by DJ Dahi talking about knowing that this rap shit was in their veins.

I’d still say The Elephant Man’s Bones is my Album of the Year, but this dude been talking about $.$.$. for nearly 3 years now & the final product is one of his best solo efforts to date in my opinion. A couple lackluster cuts here & there, but Gangsta Gibbs locks in with his niche on here by exposing his style to a wider audience without it being too excessive like a lot of other major label debuts can normally be.

Score: 4/5

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Madlib – “Sound Ancestors” review

This is a brand new album from Oxnard icon Madlib. Getting his start as 1/3 of the trio Lootpack, he would go on to become one of the most well respected producers in all of hip hop from his unique ear for sample to his vast discography ranging from Madvillainy to WLIB AM: King of the Wigflip & his 2 albums under the high-pithed alter ego Quasimoto. However to finish off the first month of 2021, the Beat Konducta coming through with a new batch of beats.

After the futuristic “There Is No Time” intro, the first instrumental “The Call” throws it back to the days of ’70s blaxpoitation films whereas the “Theme de Crabtree” dabbles into boom bap territory. The “Road of the Lonely Ones” instrumental has a bittersweet, soulful vibe that I like a lot while “Loose Goose” is probably the quirkiest beat in the tracklisting. The “Dirtknock” instrumental cleverly fuses elements of boom bap & trip hop while “Hopprock” experiments with sound collage & field recordings. The “Riddim Chant” instrumental is the perfect track to smoke to with it’s stripped-back sound while the title track dives right into spiritual jazz territority.

The 2-parter “One for Quartabê / Right Now” starts off by going into a Latin direction à la The Medicine Show 2: Flight to Brazil, but then transitions into something more smoother. The “Hang Out (Phone Off)” instrumental jumps right back into that traditional boom bap sound while “Two for 2” is a super funky tribute to the late J Dilla. The “Latino Negro” instrumental switches gears back into Latin territority while “The New Normal” makes me feel like I’m being ascedened to the pearly gates. The “Chino” instrumental fuses together elements of boom bap & soul very well whereas “Duumbiyay” obviously throws it back to Beat Konducta, Vols. 3 & 4: Beat Konducta in India with it’s Middle Eastern samples.

Dude is one of my all-time favorite producers & he does not disappoint on this new album whatsoever. It’s amalgoration of all the sounds he’s dabbled with in the past from experimental hip hop & jazz to Indian & Brazilian music. If you’re a true fan of Madlib’s production, then this is a must listen in my eyes.

Score: 4/5

MadGibbs – “Bandana” review

MadGibbs is a super-duo consisting of the renown Oxnard, California producer Madlib & Gary, Indiana rapper Freddie Gibbs. The 2 started out releasing a handful of EPs throughout this decade, but it wouldn’t be until 2014 that saw the release of their iconic full-length debut Piñata. 5 years have passed & the duo have released their long-awaited sophomore album.

After the “Obrigado” intro, we go into the first song “Freestyle Shit”. Where Freddie pretty much raps about wanting it all over a jazzy beat. The track “Half Manne Half Cocaine” canes about the things he deserves over a surprisingly banging trap beat that later switches into something more nocturnal while the song “Crime Pays” of course talks about drug dealing over a soothing instrumental. The track “Massage Seats” flaunts about his new lifestyle over a prominent with a female vocal sample while the song “Palmolive” with Pusha T talks about making money & the sample that Madlib incorporates into the cut is alluring.

The track “Fake Names” tells the story of someone who was like a brother to him over a somewhat funky boom bap beat that later switches up into some relaxing woodwinds while the song “Flat Tummy Tea” gets mafioso over an intoxicating boom bap beat that later switches up into something more atmospheric. The track “Situations” talks about being a representer over a meditative beat while the song “Giannis” with Anderson .Paak sees the 2 spitting some game to the youth over a Middle Eastern sample. The track “Practice” is dedicated to the mother of his child over a luscious soul sample while the song “Cataracts” gets charismatic over an uplifting instrumental that later switches into more orchestral.

The track “Gat Damn” is a heart-wrenching ode to one of his fallen homies over a boom bap beat that suits the mood while the penultimate song “Education” with Yasiin Bey & Black Thought sees the 3 giving the listeners just that over a luxurious beat. The album finishes off with fireworks on “Soul Right”, where Gangsta Gibbs talks about getting his life together over a synth-heavy instrumental.

There seriously isn’t a single second of this album that I personally dislike, I really think MadGibbs just came through with the best album of 2019 & one that’s just as equally flawless as Piñata was 5 years ago. Madlib’s production is more dynamic than the last album, yet it maintains a unique sound that makes a perfect musical background for Freddie’s coke raps in the vein of an incredible blaxploitation film for the second time in a row.

Score: 5/5

Freddie Gibbs – “Freddie” review

After making a strong comeback with his last full-length album album 2017’s You Only Live 2wice, Indiana MC Freddie Gibbs is now returning with his 10th mixtape.

The opener “Weight” of course talks about drugs over a decent trap beat while the next song “Automatic” gets confrontational over a murky beat. The song “Death Row” with 03 Greedo talks about criminal activity over some dinky keys & heavy bass while “Triple Threat” talks about how hot this chick is over a smooth trap beat. The song “2 Legit” gets braggadocious over an amazing sample of Roy Ayers’ “Everybody Loves the Sunshine” & after the FML interlude, we go into the track “Set Set”. Here, Gangsta Gibbs gets lavish over some rattling hi-hats & an atmospheric backdrop. The track “Toe Tag” gets murderous over an eerie beat & the song “F.B.C. (Fendi Buckle Coat)” charismatically talks about how fly he is over a fun beat. Then we get the closer “Diamonds 2”, which serves as a heartwarming sequel to the song “Diamonds” off of his Pronto EP from 2015.

While I still prefer Freddie’s last 2 albums more, this is still solid. Despite Freddie’s gritty lyricism staying in tact & while I also adore the nod to the classic Teddy Pendergrass album Teddy in the artwork, some of the production could’ve been better & the 03 Greedo verse didn’t really do much for me admittedly. Regardless, I think this is still is an enjoyable treat to hold us off until MadGibbs drops Bandana

Score: 3.5/5