Gary, Indiana's Freddie Gibbs is a lyrical flamethrower, burning down every track he alights upon with his dexterous double/triple-time flow. Occasionally he slows into a staccato rat-tat-tat that still manages to slay. On tracks like the excellent Madlib-collabo "Harold's" he can be incredibly slippery, though he's often at his very best when he's not sprinting out ahead of you but dancing around you. There's nothing wrong with notching a first-round knockout, it's just that sometimes a well-fought 10 round slugfest is more satisfying. Producer Young Chop best known for the Spartan beats he produces for Chief Keef similarly loves to go straight for the jugular. Why spend worrying about subtlety or nuance when you can coast by on pure brute force? As much as I love Chop's production on "I Don't Like", the slithering "Love Sosa" is far more interesting. The track booms and bangs for sure, but it never feels like it’s going to explode. It hulks, without flying into a fit of rage.
On the one-off collabo "Deuces" the only punches Gibbs and Chop are pulling are jabs rather than full-body shots. "Deuces" imagines a gothic squared circle where twinkling chimes and a tidal synthesizer act as the entry music and thudding bass knocks signal round 1. Gibbs opts for a half-sung hook where he's barely above a whisper, which somehow manages to sound more menacing thanks to the spinal-tingling refrain of "I shot that b**** to deuces". When the verses roll around, Gibbs is tiptoeing with a squad of killers ready to ride or die. Before you know it, they've crept into your house and Young Chop's hollow gong strikes seal your fate. It's the quiet ones you always have to worry about.
Freddie Gibbs and Madlib's collaborative album Piñata is out February 4 through Madlib's Madlib Invazion label.