Showing posts with label madlib. Show all posts
Showing posts with label madlib. Show all posts

Thursday, July 4, 2019

video review: 'bandana' by freddie gibbs & madlib

Well, this was... frustrating to some extent? A great album, to be sure, but with the sort of expectations it had, I'm not surprised why it felt a little disappointing overall.

Anyway, next up is something that has no expectations and is bound to be fun to talk about - stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

album review: 'bandana' by freddie gibbs & madlib

I'm genuinely curious how many people remembered the narratives surrounding Freddie Gibbs five years ago.

Because while he was respected by those in the know, you could make the argument his profile had suffered or been marginalized by the split with Jeezy and his debut album ESGN not really hitting as strongly as it should after a string of well-received mixtapes. And while there had been some build-up for his collaboration with Madlib through a couple of scattered singles, there was considerable skepticism, because Madlib does not make easy beats to ride, and his sample-heavy, claustrophobic, and occasionally lo-fi production did not match anything close to the trap for which Gibbs was known.

And while hindsight is 20/20 and in the wake of Pinata being one of the best rap albums of the decade it's easy to say that Freddie Gibbs had just been criminally underrated, I think it's important to highlight how much he has stepped up his skills in the past five years. Not only did his lyricism improve by leaps and bounds but so did his flow and structure and command of melody, and while his past couple projects I've been lukewarm to positive on - the one I didn't review was Fetti and while I was cool on that, it's more because I'm not really a big fan of Curren$y - the hype for his return to working with Madlib was considerable, especially considering the guest talent he was recruiting along the way. Pusha-T was obvious - they play in the same lane and the combination was bound to kick ass - but getting Killer Mike, Anderson .Paak, Mos Def and Black Thought too? As I had to say in my midyear review, the fact I had not covered this album was a considerable asterisk I had to add to the list, because I just hadn't heard enough of it in time to process and think it over. But now I found the time, and the moment is here: what did Gibbs and Madlib deliver on Bandana?

Saturday, November 7, 2015

video review: 'bad neighbor' by med, blu & madlib

Man, this record was disappointing, especially given the real talent behind it. Eh, you can't win them all.

Okay, as I said at the end of the video, next up is Little Mix, so stay tuned!

album review: 'bad neighbor' by med, blu & madlib

You ever hear about projects that sound like easy wins in theory but don't end up sticking the landing quite as well as you'd like in reality, perhaps tripped up by their own ambition or artistic choices? Well, if we're looking for two rappers where that might well be the case, M.E.D. and Blu are two examples. Now I've talked about Blu in the past when I reviewed his pretty damn great record Good To Be Home last year, and there's been rumours he had put something together with Madlib as early as 2012, when Blu released the project UCLA for a short time before pulling it when Madlib denied any involvement. But putting that aside, Blu's brand of pseudo-conscious and layered bars would probably be a solid as hell fit against Madlib's more soulful and eccentric production. 

Believe it or not, I was more worried about M.E.D., who had actually worked with Madlib on previous albums as a fellow member of Stones Throw Records, but had run into diminishing returns when his bars didn't quite rise to the level of the excellent production he was getting from producers like Oh No, Just Blaze, and even Dilla. And it wasn't like his monotone was bad - I listen to LMNO and Evidence, that sort of flow and delivery can work - but his rhymes could just feel more awkward than they should against that production, and his content wasn't anything all that special to me.

So when I heard that M.E.D., Blu, and Madlib were teaming up for a collaborative record, with features from MF Doom, Anderson .Paak, Aloe Blacc, Hodgy Beats, Oh No, and even Mayer Hawthorne of all people, I was interested but a little concerned. I expected Blu to fit right at home against Madlib's production - providing, of course, he didn't get lazy, and brought the lyricism that worked so well on Good To Be Home - but had M.E.D. improved enough as an MC to stand out? And would it even matter if he had - most collaboration albums like this feel more like an excuse to sit back, chill, and trade bars, so with the understanding the content was probably going to be nothing groundbreaking, what did we get?

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

the top albums/songs of the midyear - 2014

Holy shit, this video took hours. Really happy with it... except for some of the volume levels on the music, but that was such a pain in the ass to get right that I'm fine with where they are.

Next up, Mastodon. Stay tuned!

the top albums/songs of the midyear - 2014

I've been debating with myself pretty consistently over the past few weeks whether or not to make this. It's a pretty common thing with critics to take stock of their favourites at this point of the year, and considering I've covered 108 albums thus far this year, in terms of sheer volume it'd make sense for me to go back and take stock of what I've heard and what deserves consideration going into the second half of the year. And while I'm leery about spoiling my year-end list, long-time fans will probably be able to figure that out anyways, so why not go the extra mile and draw a spotlight to some acts that are definitely worth the consideration. 

So without further ado:

Saturday, March 29, 2014

video review: 'piñata' by freddie gibbs & madlib

Man, I needed this album. After a tumultuous week of reviews, this was a good breath of fresh air.

Next up, the insanity resumes with Tokyo Police Club and Anette Olzon, to say nothing of whatever is getting released in April. But first, since you all requested it... Pulses, by Karmin. Stay tuned!

album review: 'piñata' by madlib & freddie gibbs

So here's a complaint that only a music critic will ever make: if you want to come across as remotely knowledgeable as a critic, you'll need to have listened to a lot of music.

Now that's not a bad thing by any stretch, especially considering listening to the greats of any genre is often very rewarding. But at the same time, if you want to come across as any sort of expert - and let's face it, most music critics do - you accumulate a pretty impressive backlog very quickly, especially if you talk about more than one genre. And listening to greatest hits albums doesn't cut it - assuming you've already listened to the essential discographies, your next criterion is to tackle all of the music that might be critically acclaimed within the genre, and not just what got popular. In other words, there's a reason why my backlog is now longer than my entire music collection - and that's just the stuff I know about, and it's not including all the new material I need to listen through this year.

Fortunately, it's always something of a relief whenever a new record comes out by an artist who falls into the critically acclaimed category, because now I can tackle two birds with one stone: review a brand new album and take the excuse to visit the works of artists in my backlog under the pretense of 'research' and 'appropriate context'. And since this album is a collaboration, I get to tackle two artists in question, which is even better! The first you should all know: DJ and hit producer Madlib, responsible for some of the most critically acclaimed collaborations in the underground, most notably with MF Doom for the classic album Madvillainy, which showcased his love for great beats, offkilter 70s blaxploitation samples, and a decidedly unique sound rooted in the fusion between over-the-top kitsch and gangsta grime. The second is Freddie Gibbs, who signed to Interscope in 2006 before leaving the label and becoming an underground star in the mixtape scene, where he developed a reputation as a great technical gangsta rapper with an unfortunate habit of retreading similar ground over and over again. And having relistened to his debut album ESGN, it wasn't exactly an unfair assessment: Gibbs' standard methodology for his rapping was as a thug with a conscience, and that's always a tough balancing act to maintain. And thus, I was intrigued to check out their collaboration, for at least at first, it seemed like an odd fit - how did it go?