Read below to hear Bobby and Zac’s thoughts as they listen through Freddie Gibbs and Madlib’s Bandana and pause to discuss each song. Part 1 of 2 discussions, click here to hear their thoughts on Bandana as a full-length project.
Obrigado + Freestyle Shit
Zac: You like the intro?
Bobby: Yeah I love that intro. Especially in comparison to Piñata—I think it’s “Supplier” and “Scarface”—I fucking love that intro, but that to me is more like, didn’t nobody know who Freddie Gibbs was really when Piñata came out, and that was him announcing like “look at me I can rap,” like “I belong on a project with Madlib.” But on this one, it’s like, “Y’all know who I am, y’all know I can rap.” It’s like a victory lap almost, the triumphant return.
Z: The whole Japanese shit is super funny.
Z: I like the little bassline underneath. It’s very introductory. It’s like the curtains are opening.
B: It’s cinematic, it sounds like the beginning of a concert.
Z: And then on “Freestyle Shit,” the sample is super hard.
B: I love the hook. And like, those bars are some of my favorite on the album, like “scratchin’ and itchin’ he on that dog collar,” I love that line.
Z: Yeah, the hook and the sample are both really cool. The sample is just gorgeous. Good horns over a bass, a little vocal chop, and for some reason that arrangement works extremely well.
B: It doesn’t do a lot, it lets Freddie shine.
Half Manne Half Cocaine
B: I like the placement of this song on the album a lot, and having that be the first complete track, because I think it’s certainly the most oddball Madlib beat I’ve heard in some time, especially that first trap half. It feels a lot more like a Freddie Gibbs track than a MadGibbs track.
Z: Yeah. I would’ve liked if he was gonna go with a trap beat, I think he could’ve made it more colorful.
B: I agree, he could’ve gone more “all out,” like maybe throw some synths on there… It’s a really interesting drum riff, but other than that it’s really subdued.
Z: I love the opening of the second half: “Shut the fuck up!”
B: And then he drops “half manne half cocaine,” like what a visual.
Z: And also I think right after that hits, there’s like a big like snort.
B: Yeah, which is a hilarious, hilarious adlib. I think overall though, and especially with what follows this song, it’s one of the weaker tracks on the album.
Z: This is a fucking hit.
B: It is a hit.
Z: Both of his verses are really dope.
B: The second one especially I think is a heavy hitter.
Z: I agree. I really like the triplet flow halfway through the second. And of course we get another great Jeezy dig on this song.
B: In 2014, when you heard his Jeezy diss on “Real,” did you think in five years he’d be this much bigger than Jeezy?
Z: Yeah for real. The tables really turned. Also, terrific crate digging by Madlib on this track.
B: That sample does work man. I also noticed that this sparks probably the best run of songs on the album.
Z: Yeah. It’s a good spot as the #3, power hitter.
B: It is forreal— that was a grand slam, he drove everybody in. Probably top two songs, certainly a top five MadGibbs song.
Z: And one of the most “scaling out” songs ever.
B: Oh yeah, it really makes you feel like you should be scaling out bags of cocaine while you sing along.
B: I think that second verse is one of my two or three favorite verses on the album. He’s in the fucking pocket, he’s riding that beat, and he just has some fucking bars, especially the money phone/moneygram callback and the basketball run that namecalls Lonzo, D’Antoni, and “no max contracts.” It’s all so bouncy.
Z: He is spitting on this song, and I like the drums, but for me there’s a bit to be desired with the vocal sample.
B: I think if this song were at a different point in the album I would like it a lot less. Especially being between “Crime Pays” and “Palmolive,” which I think are two of the hardest beats they have together, I think this breaks that up a little bit. I appreciate that placement.
Z: Yeah. For me, it’s kinda one-sided in showing off Freddie.
B: Oh totally, I agree. I think it’s one of the weaker tracks on the album, but like I said, that second verse really does a lot for me.
B: Man like, like I said, I don’t know which part of that song is my favorite part. That’s one of the best, most well-composed beats on the album. I love the Killer Mike hook, I think that Push verse might be a top five Push verse, and I think Freddie’s verse is really really fucking good too.
Z: The first bar is dirty, off the bat. “Kane season, fucking my pastor’s daughter in two jesus pieces,”—which is a funny claim considering his somewhat newfound membership in the Nation of Islam. The “40 acres and a mule” bar is also hard.
B: The antivax bar is hard.
Z: I mean…
B: Should we talk about the antivax bar?
Z: Yes we should. I mean it sounds good, exclusively sonically, but you can’t be on the antivax wave. People are too impressionable for that.
B: Nah, homies got kids, chill out… “real G’s don’t vaccinate like Giannis.”
Z: Killer Mike plays a really good role as the old head on the hook. And I can just imagine Push spitting this verse with his crazy eyes popping out like he did on Funk Flex.
B: Yeah Killer Mike’s the OG. It reminds me a lot of “Robes,” especially when you think about like he did “Robes” with straight up kids at the time, like Earl was like 19, Domo was also like 19, and now he’s got OG’s on it.
Z: I said this earlier: this begs the question, what would a Madlib and Pusha T album sound like?
Z: That is definitely my favorite beat switch by Madlib ever. Maybe one of my favorite beat switches ever, by anyone. His flow is perfectly complemented by both beats, which are vastly different from each other, and he uses it to bridge the two. It’s crazy.
B: Oh my god. It’s seamless. I feel like thats peak MadGibbs, like that’s the two of them at their best.
Z: I agree. It feels to me like it’s really cool because the first half of it is like anxious and paranoid, and you can hear it in the beat and in the vocals. The beat has these ominous violins over the top, which are inching up and down, and there’s these eerie guitars, and then he gets over the anxiety and the beat switches and he remembers the good things in life with this beautiful flowering flute playing over his head. Probably one of my top three songs on the album.
B: Me too.
Z: I also love how the outro skit is like our Japanese radio host checking back in halfway through the project.
Flat Tummy Tea
B: I think that’s the best Freddie sounds on this album, sans one song that we’ll get to. I just think that this song has suffered from being the first single. It’s been out a long fucking time, I’ve heard it a lot. But I think that’s my favorite beat switch on the album, because I think the second beat is just disgusting and that verse 2 is probably my single favorite Freddie verse on the album. Like it’s just knockout bar after knockout bar. That Obama bar is insane, and also the last refrain: “took the sword and knock white Jesus off of that white horse.” The 5%er bars are really hard too. You love to see some just Black Israelite shit on wax.
Z: Yeah he’s spitting. I enjoy the decolonization vibes. I like the first beat, I agree that it suffered from being the first single, and suffered from Crime Pays being an incredible second single and overshadowing it. I also like how angry the bars are in the first half and how that goes with the energetic, grimy like guitars. I feel like maybe he uses the “flat tummy tea” line like a crutch. It’s a good line but…
B: I think it’s the most out of place bar on the song. It’s a clever punchline, but it doesn’t fit in thematically at all. The Obama bar is probably my single favorite lyrical spot on the album I think. those are deep political references and I appreciate it. It’s grown man rap.
Z: So you don’t like this song?
B: I think the hook is real long and not really interesting, it’s like 40% of the song. Like Freddie’s a great rapper, it’s a fine beat, but I think it’s just like one of their least compelling songs. I don’t think it’s about much, I think the beat the bars are outshined by every other song on this album.
Z: Do you think this is the worst song on the album?
B: Yeah I think this is the single worst song on the album.
Z: Is it also your least favorite?
Z: I kinda like this song, personally. I would agree I don’t really like the chorus, it kinda does just drag on, especially using the same flow the whole time. But I like the drums a lot. There’s like a rimshot-ish snare, and I think the kicks are really hard, and I like the jingly hihat. And I like the vocal harmony backing in the instrumental. They’re very subtle and nice in my opinion. And I think he does have some bars. In verse 2, I like the opening scene with his uncle stabbing someone while he’s playing Pac Man. I also love the bar that is “20 for a chicken that’s some pollo loco,” and of course his fuck Jeff Sessions bars. And I think this is certainly my favorite skit on the album.
B: Oh Fuck You Friday? Fuck You Friday is a very hard skit, I will concede.
Z: And as we said earlier, sounds so incredibly similar to OJ…
B: So similar to OJ. “Hey Twitter world, it’s the Juice, and I just wanna address some rumors…”
Z: This might be my least favorite beat on the album.
B: I don’t love it.
Z: Yeah. I don’t think the chorus is anything special, either.
B: Nope. I do think Anderson Paak has a good performance, but I think the gulf between him and Freddie, as a writer and a rapper, is too wide, and much wider than any feature he’s ever had. Also the “power, love, and loyalty” is kinda painful.
Z: I like the verse from Anderson Paak.
B: I think it’s a good verse, but I think it’s underwritten compared to every other verse on the album.
Z: I feel like the beat almost fits Anderson Paak more than it does Freddie. It’s a shame because “real G’s move in silence like Giannis” is a great revival of that classic bar. But I’m mostly underwhelmed by this song.
Z: Alright, a lot of good things to say about that song
B: I have so many good things to say about that song. I don’t even know where to start, the beat or the raps. There’s so many incredible bars.
Z: From the top, I love the little intro fade in with the vocals. The first bar is top notch, talking about “I went TPain for it,” and every bar after keeps with the adultery theme.
B: How good was the titular bar?
Z: The punchline for the namesake is fucking insane. It’s perfectly timed and it’s hilarious. The R-E-S-P-E-C-T line is also one of my favorites on the album. It all has great subject matter, and he has great flow on both verses. Terrific sample. It’s my favorite song.
B: I think it’s the best beat on the album. It’s my favorite song too. It’s really close with “Palmolive,” and “Fake Names” is a close third. But that might be their best song together. It really might.
Z: I agree. I think that is the “Thuggin’” of the album for me.
B: “Thuggin’” was like “Bitch I’m thuggin’,” and this is like “these are the consequences of my thuggin’.”
Z: Great mixing too.
B: Great mixing, I think that’s the best mixed/engineered song on the album.
Z: I really like how he boosted the low frequency, the bassline of the sample works really well.
B: It’s like a Madvillainy beat to me, and it’s Freddie saying “I’m a way better rapper than MF Doom,” and he is.
Z: I feel like what really makes this song arguably their best song together is that I feel like it’s got all the characteristics of a great collaboration for them but I think this is some of Freddie’s most focused subject matter within a song
B: Yeah for sure. Lyrically it really reminds me of “Deeper.” That’s like the best storytelling song on Piñata I think.
Z: Yeah. Love this song.
Z: What do you think?
B: I like it, I think it’s a really good endgame song, like the final act of the album. I think that’s marking the transition. I think “Practice” is the climax of the album, and this is like “OK, we’re coming into the end here.”
Z: Yeah, now he’s cruising in his cadillac. I think Madlib shined.
B: I think this beat’s better than Freddie, too.
Z: Yeah. I like the chorus, again it’s a little bit overextended in my opinion, but I still like it. The beat is beautiful. I like the little intro that Freddie has. “Chillin in my, chillin in my…” Kind of forgettable bars in these verses, though.
B: Yeah I agree. I think he sounds great, I think the chemistry is like on point but just thinking about how hard he’s gone on the whole album, it’s not really that big of a deal. But it’s a very sonically pleasing song.
Z: I appreciate his getting personal about religion. My favorite line on this song is “Turkey bacon bitch, like my toast buttered on both sides.” I love that line.
B: Toast don’t get enough love.
Z: I also like the shouting vocals, again it sounds almost reminiscent of DAMN, the shouting of “new shit!”
B: “New shit!” I love that. “New shit” is one of my favorite rap-isms.
B: I really like this song. I think that beat really shows Madlib’s influence on Kanye. That’s a sound Madlib has had for a long time, that drum break is super Madlib with the little orchestral flares on it. That sampling style is something that sounds really like early Kanye and even something that persists today. But it’s super stripped down and just really good and straight to the point. That in conjunction with how melodic Freddie is on this… like that’s probably my favorite hook on the album.
Z: I am not the biggest fan of this song. I like the beat, it’s very pretty. I don’t really like his “yeah yeah” flow, and I don’t really like his singing. I feel like he could have almost gone sillier with it since he wasn’t gonna sound like an actual singer on this song. but I still appreciate it and still kinda like it.
B: Do you think this is another song where Madlib outshines Freddie?
Z: Probably, but I do like the first half of the chorus, the melody on “I reminisce the feeling when I think about it,” is a nice jingle. What’s the ham bar? That part is crazy
B: “Bacon ham and cold salami/say my prayers alhamdulillah,” etc. He’s talking about being served pork in jail. It’s a really hard bar.
B: This is such an old head song. I think it’s great, it’s some rappin’-ass rap.
Z: It is a very old head song. I think it suits Mos Def the most.
B: He sounds so good.
Z: Yeah, it’s a really good collab between them two. It reminds me of the Madlib-Mos Def-Slick Rick track, “Auditorium.” I think he spits a good verse too. I love the “I don’t give a fick” punchline.
B: I really like that bar, I think that’s the highlight of the verse. His flow is just so good.
Z: And I like how the instrumental fades out into the a cappella and then fades back in.
B: I really like the vocal effects.
Z: Yeah. It’s a great sample again and I feel like it’s well composed. It seems like Madlib did more with this sample than on some of the other tracks, which I like, and it sounds really good.
B: Yeah he chopped it up.
Z: Black Thought I felt like should have brought more energy. I think it was difficult for him to match Mos Def and Freddie.
B: Black Thought does really kinda just fade into the background because Freddie and Mos just bookend that
Z: Their deliveries are just standing out more. I don’t know why Freddie Gibbs takes this Slut Walk shot at 21 Savage.
B: It’s a funny bar but like, I don’t really get why it’s there.
Z: I don’t think 21 deserves any shots at him. If there’s a duel I’m on 21’s side in that.
B: Yeah me too. I’m a hoe too. This to me really feels like the closer of the album. I think it’s a very good closer, it’s like in the tradition of Madlib and it’s still pretty gangsta.
Z: Alright, thoughts?
B: It’s just kind of underwhelming after the last song. It’s an OK beat.
Z: I agree, I like the chorus, the verses are decent, the beat is decent, but it should not have been placed where it was placed, if it was gonna be put on the album at all
B: Yeah, I agree I think it’s the most unnecessary song on the album.
Z: Yeah. There’s some little vignettes here and there, some better singing in my opinion.
B: Yeah, better singing. Solid melody all around. The flow is good, it’s pretty bouncy.
Z: I like the bar about his momma being the mail lady on the east side.
B: They can take a break, they rapped and produced their asses off.
Z: Ultimately the wrong choice for a closer but, oh well.
B: They can have it.