Freddie Gibbs and Madlib
Bandana


4.1
excellent

Review

by Rowan5215 STAFF
July 22nd, 2019 | 138 replies


Release Date: 06/28/2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: wash me clean

What makes a Madlib project extraordinary? His beats, uniformly terrific, walk the fine line between nostalgia and pastiche. Dusty samples gain new life as he chops them up over un-quantised drums, breathing new life into some forgotten relic of the past one crate-digging excavation at a time. There's a reliable level of quality you expect going in with Madlib, but he needs the chemistry to take him to the next level. The producer's partners-in-crime don't need to be underground legends like MF DOOM was when Madvillain formed, they just need to lock in with the beats further than the surface level of how hard you can spit over them (see: "No More Parties in LA"). It takes a great rapper to twist Madlib's inherent nostalgic glow into something subtle, more complex: something you hadn't suspected they could be.

This admittedly elusive and arbitrary quality is what nestled Bandana into my subconscious in a way Piñata never did. Freddie is truly living inside Madlib's beats rather than just rapping on top of them. The acclaimed 2014 collaboration brought the bangers to a head-spinning degree, but there was rarely time for the music to breathe even as the album spun out past an hour, bogging itself down with average-to-bad features from the likes of Ab-Soul (annoying), Casey Veggies (bewilderingly off-beat) and the late Mac Miller (pre-reinvention as a great artist in his own right). Bandana is simultaneously tighter and freer. What guests there are quickly adhere to the existing template set by Gibbs rather than dominating the track when he leaves, whether that's Pusha T loosening his tightly-wound energy a bit on "Palmolive" or Anderson .Paak's scratchy, inherently throwback-sounding voice tailormade to spit on easy standout "Giannis". More importantly, Gibbs convinces you that no one else could ever have spat on these beats once he gets going. "Half Manne Half Cocaine" and "Flat Tummy Tea" hew close to straight bangers without losing that Madlibvibe, while "Palmolive" and "Crime Pays" chop up soul ballads for a classic Wu-Tang sound.

There's a legitimate danger of mythologising fan-favourite duos like Freddie Gibbs and Madlib beyond what the music demands. Look at Madvillainy's borderline-mythical journey to release: how these artists that likely never would have interacted met, the fourteen month-early leak, DOOM's reluctance to return to the project after their debut became a classic, and so on. Look at how this story lives on divorced from the music itself. Bandana's tale is ordinary in comparison, and all the better for it - Otis had the beats, Kane had the raps, they did the arithmetic.

But Bandana is terrific because it makes you yearn for that imagined history, the struggle from page to audio that surely happened to produce such a god-given chemistry. Freddie's deep, choppy flows might initially seem somewhat at odds with Madlib's production but that's why it works, because playing too much to the soul-soaked nostalgia robs the proceedings of their bite. Freddie might lag behind the beats on occasion but he's getting ready to switch up and devour them right after; he might play soft in harmony with their soulful qualities, but he'll rub up against the grain soon enough. It's the ultimate union of unstoppable force and immovable object. Together they rob the music of all myth, all context, until the audio stands alone, thrilling and soothing and biting and ridiculous in equal measure. I can't conceive of a rapper-producer duo who could curb each other's most extravagant impulses more than this one; accordingly, Bandana is not a second too long, not a sample too nostalgic and not a bar too rap-heavy.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
July 22nd 2019


42703 Comments

Album Rating: 4.1 | Sound Off

extremely late but kinda shocking this didn't have a review. as you were

foxblood
July 22nd 2019


10153 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

wish he would make more quasimoto

AmericanFlagAsh
July 22nd 2019


9036 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Honestly shocked this website doesn't care for this

Digging: FKA Twigs - Magdalene

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
July 22nd 2019


17516 Comments


the second half of "fake names" is so chef kiss

rabidfish
July 22nd 2019


5519 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

this was a step down for both of them

theNateman
July 22nd 2019


3803 Comments


O shit gotta jam this

EyesWideShut
July 22nd 2019


5189 Comments


"Crystal Lynn came all the way to Denver for the dick, yeah
Had to cancel my Miami trip, that bitch was sick, yeah
Put me on, always put me on" - Gangsta Gibbs

EyesWideShut
July 22nd 2019


5189 Comments


album's gonna be top hip hop joint

MarsKid
Contributing Reviewer
July 22nd 2019


10123 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Perhaps I've grown cynical with rap year after year, but this did nothing special to me--and I liked the last solo Gibbs release, actually. He just sounds unbelievably uninspired here, vocally and lyrically, while the beats aren't tough enough by themselves to carry the weight.



Of course, that's all on the music; the review you wrote is very intriguing, perfect length, and an enjoyable read overall. I have to say, judging by the absolutely gushing tone of your conclusion, a 4.1 seems low in comparison.

Slex
Contributing Reviewer
July 22nd 2019


8737 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Rowan pls teach me to write this good



Freddie’s flows get seriously monotonous some times, only complaint I have with this

Digging: Liturgy - H.A.Q.Q.

DoofDoof
July 22nd 2019


6216 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

'Honestly shocked this website doesn't care for this'



I'm a bit impressed this website isn't just blind copying all the other music website favourites this year, this album is good...but it isn't all that amazing



Same as the Tyler



Also the Little Simz being 4th highest rated on RYM is bizarre - not a bad album but what?



Every other site seems all worked up trying to crown another TPAB before the decade is out. Also, stuff that is worthy of the high scores like Weyes Blood and Purple Mountains is doing well here too.

robertsona
Staff Reviewer
July 22nd 2019


17516 Comments


rateyourmusic charts for contemporary albums is just fantanocore now, right? like every single album sans jai paul (which is so good that it breaks that kind of mold hehehe) is one he gave a great rating. weird echo chamber effect

Relinquished
July 22nd 2019


42087 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yea funny how that works



how there's barely any good record-rating engines out here and how the most popular record-rating vlogger can influence the most popular record-rating website



there's no competition and people don't make the time to expand thought and taste

Deez
July 22nd 2019


5207 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Found it a bit hit and miss which is gutting because I was sure this was a top 5 AOTY.

Just found it pretty underwhelming given how great 'Pinata' is. Still really like it though

bloc
July 22nd 2019


58268 Comments


The neverending flow kinda gets annoying when every filler word is fuck, bitch, or nigga lol

Digging: Black Devil Disco Club - Disco Club

foxblood
July 22nd 2019


10153 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

gibbs is a garbage mc imo, his lyrics are just terrible. they are the polar opposite of madlibs other work, there's no intelligence or artistry to what he does. sucks because I'm the biggest quas/madlib fan

Relinquished
July 22nd 2019


42087 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

nah he's consistently good



'no intelligence' lmao

MarsKid
Contributing Reviewer
July 22nd 2019


10123 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Basically the content here is all cocaine and occasionally money, money which naturally came from selling cocaine, which is cool because it also gets bitches.



And I disagree that he's all bad, but he doesn't shine here for sure.

johnnyblaze
July 22nd 2019


3244 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Took the sword and knocked white Jesus off of that white horse





nice review man - glad this finally got one!

Dimorphic
July 22nd 2019


1054 Comments


Any review that uses the word 'pastiche' is of top quality in my book. Will check this out.

Digging: Myrkgrav - Trollskau, Skromt og Kolabrenning



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