Freddie Gibbs’ shocked us when he linked up with underground hip hop legend Madlib for Cocaine Pinata. We’re used to Gangsta Gibbs, the guy with a penchant for aggressive beats, a bad attitude, and no remorse for any of it at all. The glowing light was that the guy rapped his head off like he studied English for years. So when we heard he was linking up with Madlib, a producer who is the complete opposite of the Gibbs we know we didn’t know what to expect.
By now you’ve probably heard about it – Pinata is one of the best albums of the year. Gibbs sounds his most whole as an artist here. He’s always been one hell of an emcee, one of those guys that made rap look easy, but previous works weren’t as well put together as this one. There wasn’t much more of a theme on his past projects such as ESGN and Cold Day In Hell other than hard-hitting tracks laced with the Gibbs verses. Not to take anything away from that, but Cocaine Pinata showed Gibbs’ growth musically.
He wasn’t the rowdy Gary, Indiana jack boy that we know him as. On Cocaine Pinata, Gibbs’ was a little more laid back due to Madlib’s fitting production, and a little more introspective – we got a more conscious version of Freddie Gibbs.
¨Deeper, ¨which was our hip hop panel’s unanimous pick as a favorite off of the album deals with a past relationship where the girl Freddie loved had to move on from his drug dealing and jacking ways for a guy with a more socially acceptable career choice. Never have we saw Freddie so vulnerable, still keeping his hard exterior, but becoming just that transparent for one song.
Nothing explains that point better than the lines that end the second verse and start the third:
End of 2nd
All to a nigga that don’t got nothin that I ain’t got
Only difference is he trying to be a fuckin astronaut
Saw this pussy nigga when I walked up in the barber shop
Green as a leaf, lookin sweet, that cut a nigga deep
– Freddie Gibbs, Deeper
Beginning of 3rd
I loved her and she loved him, so I never touched him
She’s got his baby in the oven, so it’s mother fuck him
– Freddie Gibbs, Deeper
These lines show that as hard as Freddie is, he still has a set of morals when it comes to his loved ones.
Madlib’s production was a starring role on Cocaine Pinata as well. I say starring role because Madlib provided Freddie with more than just beats. He gave the album a cinematic feel. The perfect backdrop for Freddie to tell his stories. We likened the album to things like a blaxploitation film, sitting on the stoop while smoking a spliff with Gibbs, and riding in a Cadillac DeVille with the man. You feel more close to Gibbs’ than you ever have before when listening to Pinata.
Another standout was Gibbs’ vent about the Jeezy/CTE situation on ¨Real.¨ Not a diss song, just a real song – ¨Real¨ was Gibbs speaking on the time he spent on Jeezy’s CTE label, but where you would expect Freddie to throw ignorant jabs he throws body blowing truths (as he sees it). He doesn’t sound like a bitter ex-employee, but like a guy who had genuine respect for someone and got the short end of the stick.
Seen Gucci by himself while we was 30 deep at Magic
And you didn’t bust a grape, was shook from the gate
It make it seem to me the gangsta shit you kick be fake
– Freddie Gibbs, Real
This scene comes off almost like the episode of the Boondocks where Riley catches Gangstalicious in a situation that went against his morals (not to that extent).
Where Cocaine Pinata fails is that it trails off at the end and its lack of memorable guest features. With names like Raekwon, Meechy Darko, Scarface, Ab-Soul, Mac Miller, Domo Genesis, and Earl Sweatshirt we thought we were going to get crazy guest verses galore, but maybe 3 of them shined (Scarface, Domo, Earl) and some even disappointed (Ab, Mac). The Cadillac DeVille like album also ¨runs out of gas¨ if you will as it starts to tail off at the end as well.
Overall, we love Pinata and gave it a consensus rating of an 8 (8.16 on the Jid scale). The only question we have is if there will be a Pinata 2?