BANDANA - Freddie Gibbs & Madlib
Bandana didn’t break new ground in terms of sound the way I think Pinata did but it’s still a stellar effort and a more-than-worthy sequel to that now-classic LP. At this point boom-bap records remind me of cool jazz records- it’s not about innovation so much as expert practitioners exhibiting their virtuosity and while these two do exactly that, there’s more modern and new style beats as well, giving Gibbs plenty of chances to show he double-times as well as he old schools. “Half Manne Half Cocaine” is an example of the duo playing with both styles in one cut. The single "Crime Pays" is an impressive earworm that traverses generations in its appeal as something both fresh but also familiar.
Madlib is basically flawless here as he gives us melodic hard-hitting styles across the grimy hip-hop spectrum alongside drumless experimental beats throughout this supremely enjoyable record. That said, what resonates in my thinking as I ponder on this album are Gibbs’ much more vulnerable stories about drug arrests, the life of crime and the details of the world hanging your life in the balance. He talks about a version of poly-amory, about forsaking jealousy with his girlfriend – it’s interesting, specific, human. “Cataracts” is my favorite stoner-jam from Gibbs since ESGN’s “10 Packs of Backwoods".
Madlib is still the shit at transitions and the lack thereof. The Black Thought / Yasiin Bey cut is the vintage concrete-cracker you were waiting for. It is remarkable how these two dudes keep getting better as they age. Hip-hop is in a new place now, it IS like jazz where we’re going to have old bluesman, seers and sayers on the porch well into their golden years- embrace it.
Peep the fire animation on the album player preset for Bandana when you watch in YouTube…
Tristan "Tanjint Wiggy" Acker is a staff writer for Zus Entertainment, a Jooseboxx and Untapped Hip-Hop contributor, and member of the Inland Empire, California based nerdcore hip-hop group the West Coast Avengers.