Madlib has done it again. He supplied Gangsta Gibbs with a batch of soulful beats.
Although Madlib and I grew up in the same city, I haven’t heard much music from him. I know of him because I read an article in XXL magazine back in my junior year of high school, late 2005 or early 2006. I heard about him through the Internet and because of his collaborations with J Dilla and MF Doom but the formal introduction was that article.
I first heard Madlib’s production on Strong Arm Steady’s 2010 In Search of Stoney Jackson. That album was dope. I was a fan of SAS so seeing them rock over Madlib’s beats showed Madlib’s talent.
Piñata didn’t necessarily surprised me, I wasn’t expecting such a great, dope album. It’s currently my favorite pick for album of the year. Top to bottom the records are dope. The combination of Madlib’s soulful beats and Gibbs’ street rhymes is a match-made in heaven.
Each track has its own thing, whether it’s a dope beat, unreal storytelling or a crazy flow, each record leaves an imprint.
For example, the realness of “Deeper,” where Gibbs spits about a former flame who loved him but ultimately left him because, although she loved Gibbs, she didn’t enjoy his gangster lifestyle. She ended up leaving him for someone who lived a straight life.
This situation applies to life because although you love something, you can walk away from it if it can be deem cancerous.
Plus, he spoke on the situation—that had me upset—between him and Jeezy on “Real.” I was surprised he put that on wax but I understood why Gibbs did it. I also understood Jeezy’s perspective. I hoped they can come to a resolution and make music again. Gibbs said a phone call could resolved it.
Storytelling is found throughout the entire project. Does the inspiration come from Gibbs’ life? Are his raps autobiographical or based around the truth?
Only Gibbs has the definite answer. I like to think that his raps have—at the very least—a bit of real life. Maybe I’m wrong, shrugs.
Whether it’s the depiction of Gibbs’ hometown, Gary, Ind., on “Scarface,” or the mural he painted in his ode to the hood’s fried chicken spot in “Harold’s,” or the depiction of the drug life on “Bomb” or the autobiographical “Broken,” in which he raps about his broken home and drug dealing past.
Could art be imitating life?
Speaking of “Broken,” let’s talk about it.
Gibbs shares the limelight with the legendary Scarface, who provides a dope guest verse but ultimately, its Gibbs who steals the spotlight.
A fiend for money, Gibbs decided to take up drug dealing. His long nights lead to money but also broken promises including one to his grandmother. He promised her, with no real intention, that he’d stopped dealing. But they knew he didn’t mean it.
As he got older, and kept dealing, he realized how much in common he had with his father. Although, on the opposite sides of the law, Gibbs’ father was a police officer, both dealt with crime and had gotten their hands dirty. Gibbs cleverly refers to himself as a “crook” while claiming his father as “crooked.” On opposite sides, yet so much alike.
The album is filled with different types of records.
You have a record like “Shame,” released back in 2012, which could be described as his “girl-slash-R&B-record” because of BJ The Chicago Kid’s soulful hook and Madlib’s funky beat lead by The Manhattans sample. The ode to the “walk of shame” or rather the “walk of we’re adults babe!” is one of my favorites.
Then, you have a record like “Thuggin’,” which along with its video, is gangster as fuck! Gibbs hits us with gangsta rhymes over an eerie bass guitar and keyboard.
Plus, he can hold his own on posse cuts. On “Piñata,” Gibbs is joined by several rappers/friends from all coasts. Domo Genesis, Casey Veggies and Mac Miller are three of the six rappers that join Gibbs.
Gibbs can do it all.
Along with the “Shame” record, “High,” “Robes” and “Lakers” are my favorites off the album.
“Robes” is my favorite. It made me a fan of Earl Sweatshirt—I followed him on Twitter afterwards—and solidified Domo Genesis for me. He impressed me, again.
Each verse is solid, and each of the rapper’s opening line is a statement. Domo’s inspirational opening bars about hustling and grinding toward your goal while never quitting, Earl’s braggadocios, albeit arrogant claim, and Gibbs’ blatant fuck off, they’re all brilliant.
Every time I listen to this song I recite each verse’s opening line.
Every. Fucking. Time.
The rest of their verses are dope too.
The beat, THE BEAT! Oh my, it’s perfect, it’s a masterpiece. It’s funky and soulful. It has some dope guitar riffs. The guitar at the end is magical, a perfect ending as it fades out. The sample is awesome. Madlib sampled and chopped up Lenny White’s “Sweet Dreamer,” combining different elements of the original to create this masterpiece.
“High” is a weed song, to say the least, which I heavily fuck with. Gibbs’ rapid gunfire-like flow is something magical. Danny Brown blows the song out of its relaxation zone with his crazy, energetic verse.
The beat is special too. ‘Lib sampled Freda Payne’s “I Get High (On Your Memory),” the same song that was used in Styles P “Good Times.” He grabbed a funky guitar riff and some great drums to give Gibbs a dope beat.
“Lakers” is an ode to Gibbs adopted home, Los Angeles. Taking the name of the city’s most famous professional team, Gibbs’ verses are filled with L.A. references from the film Boyz N The Hood to medical marijuana, to the different sets of Crips and the different regions of the city, Gibbs made his verse L.A. Additionally, he grabbed one of the city’s prominent rappers in TDE’s Ab-Soul, who went ahead and stole the show with his verse.
Much like he did with L.A., Gibbs did the same with New York. He also grabbed the city’s most popular professional team’s name. “Knicks” relays the message that although times change, history tends to repeat itself.
He raps two verses but a decade apart. Although much has changed, including Gibbs, his life and the world, things seems to resemble the past. Gibbs was in the streets doing his gangsta thing, hustling, having wild and violent thoughts in the mid-90s. Fast-forward a decade later, Gibbs is still hustling, this time with his music yet still having those violent, criminal thoughts he had in the past.
Gibbs brought it with the lyrics but Madlib displayed why he is one of the best producers in hip-hop. He gave Gibbs a batch of instrumentals for him to attack. Most were soulful, some were funky, others were gritty, a few were smooth and chilled and a couple beats were hard as fuck. Both showed their ranges, Gibbs as a rapper and Madlib as a producer. Their coming together was weird and shocking at the start but ending up being a blessing. Their clashing of styles created some musical greatness.
This album is a modern day classic. Gibbs and Madlib pulled it off. Two different hip-hop artists met in the middle and created something incredible. You could play this album in its entirely as you cruise around your city, chill, or smoke some weed. It gives off a great vibe.
This album is top notch. Easily the front-runner for my album of the year. If I had to rate it, I’d give it 9 out of 10.
(Credit to: KanyeToThe.com for the photo)