When Gary Indiana MC Freddie Gibbs teamed up with the one and only Madlib, he reached new heights as they dropped their critically acclaimed 2014 LP Piñata. Five years later, the duo returned with their sequel album Bandana, which received even more praise than its predecessor. Today, we will be looking back at this masterpiece and deciphering what makes it so special.
Freddie Gibbs has the best performance of his entire career on this record. He sounds super-refined, versatile, and lyrically stronger than ever. Tracks like “Freestyle Shit” and “Soul Right” show off his artistic improvement as he keeps the listener engaged by constantly switching up his flow and tone. Songs like “Fake Names” and “Practice” show Gibbs’s top tier storytelling ability as he guides the listener through compelling and vibrant tales. Also, Gibbs’s subject matter has a lot more substance than usual as he covers topics such as corruption, depression, and mental health. In addition to Freddies out of this world performance, Mos Def, Black Thought, Pusha T, Killer Mike, and Anderson .Paak all contribute with show-stealing feature verses. With Freddie Gibbs at his peak and handful of contributions from legends, there is no doubt that Bandana’s lyrics can be studied for hours.
Sonically, Madlib further strengthened his case for the goat producer on Bandana. The production is beautiful as it’s immersive and dramatic. The beats feel even more enjoyable when knowing that Quasimoto made all of them on an Apple iPad. Instrumentals such as “Giannis” and “Palmolive” feel dark and gritty while “Crime Pays” and “Freestyle Shit” give off a more sweet and luxurious tone. Madlib peaks on the tracks “Half Manne Half Cocaine”, “Fake Names”, and “Flat Tummy Tea”, which all contain unforgettable cinematic beat switches. Another touch worth mentioning is that Lord Quas perfectly connects each track as the ending of one song flows into the intro of the other. Even though Madlib has produced a magnitude of classics before, Bandana shines as one of his best.
In conclusion, Bandana is a near-perfect album that has already been cemented in hip hop royalty. Freddie Gibbs demolishes the microphone as he has some of the best and most impactful verses in recent memory. Behind the boards, Madlib’s artistic direction ties the entire project together as a whole. This duo has gotten better with each release, only making the ceiling for their third album, Montana, higher than ever!