Usually when relating to films in Hollywood, a sequel is often times a step in the wrong direction with more hype and less ability to perform. Thankfully, when mixing with a master of production like Madlib and the gravely-voiced rhymer Freddie Gibbs, ascension is the only way up.
Their second collaborative effort inscribed Bandana is a continuation of this legendary team-up. The two are so concurrent in their careers and still have influence through just their merit alone. As the Carl Weathers and Arnold Schwarzenegger-esque performances begin to flex their muscle through their musical background, Bandana becomes a clear indication of how the chemistry between rhymer and producer is more essential than ever.
Madlib created one of the greatest records of all time with Madvillainy, then to see him harnessing different energies to fit the more rugged and cutthroat styles of Freddie Gibbs is incredible. He is an adaptable combatant that challenges Gibbs just as much as he lifts him up with his production. The beat switches are constant, creating different tempos that attack Gibbs and almost create a game of mental sparring.
Gibbs instead rides the beats as if he was a cowboy with two six-shooters and a heavy hand of iron. He stands tall against the dynamic music and is able to form a tight grasp that blasts bullet holes through the production. Each face-off here is a balance of talent and tension where tracks “Fake Names” or “Giannis” has a dynamite bass and boom-bap styles. Gibbs uses his modern vocal approach to formation, almost as if he was a rap chameleon that changes shapes and colors to fit better into Madlib’s production.
The features from Pusha T, Killer Mike, Black Thought, Yasiin Bey, and Anderson .Paak are all these necessary additions that sometimes can be as much as a sprawling verse or a simple hook or chorus. In Anderson .Paak’s performance, his feature sticks out as his vocal style mixes so well with “Giannis” production and is an absolute treasure on the track. His soulful voice conflicts with Gibbs and illustrates a real dichotomy in vocal stance.
Not many of the tracks on Bandana are going to turn the club up, instead, Freddie Gibbs and Madlib are these urban cowboys that create an emotional attachment to being an outlaw. Each track sculpts them higher and higher until they seem to be rhyming and creating on the clouds, no longer the gunslingers that started in the mud.