Bandana: Discussing the Album

Read below to hear Bobby and Zac’s thoughts on Freddie Gibbs and Madlib’s Bandana as a full-length album. Part 2 of 2 discussions, click here to hear their thoughts on Bandana as a song-by-song analysis.

Album Discussion

Zac: Alright, what are the best songs?

Bobby:  In no particular order for me it’s “Practice,” “Fake Names,” “Crime Pays.”

Z:  That’s my top three also.

B:  And then also “Palmolive,” duh, and “Education.” I’d say those are my five favorite songs.

Z:  My top five in order I think would be “Practice,” “Crime Pays,” “Fake Names,” “Palmolive,” maybe “Education”… either “Education” or “Cataracts” or “Situations,” or “Freestyle Shit.”

B:  What about the worst songs? I think “Giannis” is one of the worst songs for me.

Z:  Yeah I think my least favorite are “Giannis” and “Massage Seats” in no order.

B:  I would say mine are “Giannis,” “Situations,” and “Soul Right.”

Z:  I kinda like “Soul Right,” it’s just not a closer at all.

B:  I think it’s an OK song. I think I like most of the other songs more.

Z:  What are your favorite verses on the project?

B:  I’m not even going to talk about “Practice”… verse 2 on “Flat Tummy Tea,” Verse 2 on “Massage Seats,” Verse 2 on “Crime Pays,” Mos Def on “Education” and Push on “Palmolive.”

Z:  I like Freestyle shit, he opens with a hot freestyle.

B:  The first verse on “Fake Names” is really fucking good.

Z:  How about the best features? I love Pusha T and Killer Mike and Mos Def.

B:  Yeah, everyone but BlackThought.

Z:  Ehh, I like Anderson Paak. Bad song but—

B:  Good feature, good performance, definitely. I thought all of the features brought it, I think BlackThought just kinda got bodied.

Who’s in better form, Freddie or Madlib?

Z:  I think Freddie on this album.

B:  Damn we’re just gonna agree the whole time. I think this is like “top three in the game” shit for Freddie.

Z:  Top three as far as bars?

B:  I’m saying. Unless Kendrick drops this year it’s hard for me to see a rapper outrapping Freddie in 2019.

Z:  Pusha T is not gonna put out an album?

B:  No. Madlib is Madlib, and he doesn’t miss, but like I thought Piñata was especially…

Z:  I think Madlib upped his game on skits in this vs. Piñata. I really think that the Japanese skits are good, the “Fuck You Friday,” and I like the standup bit about running the train. And even the “Warning: the Surgeon General of New York…”, that one is good too.

B:  Madlib does show his ass throughout. Like the “Crime Pays” beat is ridiculous, “Practice” is ridiculous, “Palmolive” is ridiculous… There’s some other crazy beats…

Z:  He’s also multidimensional on this album.

B:  I think he shows a lot more range than he’s shown on single projects before.

Z:  I would disagree, I would say he showed as much or less versatility on this than Piñata, I’m not really sure. I don’t know, I mean Piñata has like the “Shitsville” beat…

B:  I’ll put it this way: I didn’t expect either artist to get better from the last project, and I think Freddie got better, so I think he has to get MVP for that.

Z:  I agree. Another agreement, we’ll keep it interesting.

So Bandana vs. Piñata… I think Piñata’s better.

B:  I think Piñata’s better, but I don’t think it’s decidedly or undebatably better, I think that will be a person to person thing, which album they hold in higher esteem.

Z:  Yeah but I would say more people are going to hold Piñata up higher, being their debut, busting onto the scene and they went fuckin’ all out and had as good or better of a performance than this, which was their follow up four or five years later.

B:  To be fair though, we did say that Freddie was noticeably on point for this whole album, and in comparison to Piñata if Madlib was just as good, doesn’t that mean this is better?

Z:  But I would say Madlib maybe isn’t as good on this. I think there are weak points that are because of Madlib’s lack of curation or maybe just presenting Freddie with the subject matter that would match him.

B:  I think this is real nitpicky too, but I think Piñata is a bit better mastered. I think Freddie gets kinda drowned out by the beat at points on this album… but that’s a deep headphones listen. That is not anywhere near reason to say one album is better than the other for me, I’m just throwing that out there. I think Piñata is better for me just because that was like the big bang and this is probably just as good but Piñata I think is more important.

Z:  I also like the cover of Piñata more.

B:  I think this is a better cover.

Z:  Really?

B:  I love this cover. I like the Quasimoto, I like that Hollywood is backwards, I like that the wildfires are going… I kinda freaked out when I saw it. 

Z:  I can’t get enough of the cover of Piñata with the zebra fur.

B:  What makes this a great album?

Z:  I think for the same reasons as Piñata, in different ways, but it’s just the sheer excellence of their chemistry. It’s still outrageous how much bigger they are together than the sum of their parts.

B:  I agree with you, I think the chemistry is the best thing about this duo, but for this album I think Freddie really holds it down. I think he is excellent 95% of the time on this album. I don’t particularly like “Massage Seats,” but I think I don’t hate it because of where it is on the album. Like, pretty much from “Crime Pays” until “Situations,” it’s just like ridiculous track after ridiculous track.

Z:  And then right after “Giannis”: “Practice,” “Cataracts,” “Gat Damn,” “Education.”

B:  Yeah. I think it’s true that all the songs you don’t like are essentially intermissions. They’re like, “take a break from these bars.”

Z:  Yeah. The more I hear the first half of “Flat Tummy Tea” the more I like it. It’s so grimy.

How does the album flow?

B:  Is this the moment to talk about the ending?

Z:  Yeah.

B:  It flows real good until “Soul Right,” which is stunning.

Z:  I would have loved in that position like an outro skit. Like an “Obrigado” bookend. It’s a good album cut, and they just dropped the ball on placement. Maybe for some reason it’s a really sentimental, close-to-home song between the two of them.

B:  Yeah, it’s their album. I’ll trust them. But it’s just a let down coming off that song like “Oh there’s more album?” Like “Oh there’s another three minutes?”

Z:  Yeah, and going back to it, “Piñata” wasn’t the best outro to Piñata, either.

B:  A posse cut didn’t really make sense at that point in the album to me, especially a ten-minute posse cut, you know? I think there are some gems on that song, I think like Mac’s verse is great.

Z:  Yeah it’s like a fine song, again not a closer.

B:  No. That’s got a good outro skit too. When he covers that Jodeci song.

Z:  Oh yeah. But otherwise, I really liked the skits and how they kinda propel shit forwards. Again the worst songs are kinda dispersed as intermissions, which they didn’t mean to do but works out well.

How does it compare to Madvillainy?

B:  I think it’s certainly better.

Z:  I agree

B:  Dammit, really? That was my hot take. I think it’s certainly better. Is that a function of time? Do you think Madvillainy just sounds dusty 15 years later? It’s still great but… I think both Piñata and this are better than Madvillainy.

Z:  True. I think there’s more skips on Madvillainy.

B:  Yeah, and just like…. I don’t think this is controversial, I know that the internet thought it was controversial but, Freddie is a better rapper than Doom.

Z:  I am still on the fence on that. I think Bandana flows better in my opinion, both albums really.

B:  It’s tighter.

Z:  It’s tighter, it’s more to the point, Madvillainy is 22 tracks, probably around an hour, maybe closer to 45 minutes, but Piñata and Bandana feel way more to the point. Then again, I mean, Madlib is in really top form on Madvillainy.

B:  Yeah, that was something else I thought about, like just hearing this beat, “All Caps,” today and like thinking about this album which I really haven’t listened to in a long time, these beats are insane. I think this is a better produced album than either of the MadGibbs projects. I think Freddie is a more exciting rapper than Doom.

Z:  I would agree with that, but I would say Freddie has more struggle bars than Doom.

B:  Yeah, I’ll give you that, I’ll concede that.

Z:  Doom’s got a really stunning way of tying together words and rhymes and couplets that you would not at all foresee.

B:  Something that really stood out to me is on “Massage Seats” in the second verse, which we both say is not a great song, but that series that he has in the second half where it’s like “put them shooters on you like D’Antoni,” where it’s like 6 or 7 bars tied together thematically. It’s really potent and you can immediately tell it was intentional. I think Freddie is a narrative rapper and like Doom is like a montage rapper. Freddie is a better storyteller, Doom is not a storyteller.

Z:  Yeah Freddie is more like sensory, putting you in a situation in his apartment in Gary or wherever. And I really do like dope game rap, which is certainly a part of it.

B:  I think at this point in my life, cocaine raps are just exciting. And I know that he’s real and has done time for serving coke and crack… “I was out in Joliet serving heroin to them white boys,” that is a sleeper favorite bar on the album for me. 

Z:  Yeah I knew you would love that bar. What song is that?

B:  Flat Tummy Tea. Also: “Top 5 rappers alive and that’s on Vice Lords.” Good Vice Lord shoutouts on this album, throughout.

I think something that’s really noticeably different from this and Piñata that there’s a lot of killer hooks on Bandana, and Piñata doesn’t have killer hooks for the most part to me. There’s not a lot of hooks on it, there’s a lot of just verses and then soul samples and Blaxploitation samples.

Z:  Alright so what are your favorite hooks?

B:  “Palmolive: I think might be the best original hook of it but I think the hook on “Crime Pays” is the best, with that sample, that’s just so killer. I like “Gat Damn” a lot, “Practice” is really good…

Z:  I was gonna say my favorite might be Practice but it’s just a sample, but it’s still a terrific refrain between the also amazing verses.

B:  The hook on “Freestyle Shit”: “When this music shit wasn’t moving mane…”

Z:  Yeah I would say the best recorded hook would be Killer Mike.

B:  I feel like it should be Anderson Paak but that hook is kinda booty to me.

Z:  If he had shortened the Cataracts chorus, because I love the first half of that verse, but it kinda just keeps going on. I think he could have been short and sweet to that one.

Now that we have a Freddie and Pusha T where you can side by side compare them, who is the better coke rapper?

B:  That is a tough one. I wanna say Push, but I don’t know how committed I am to that. 

Z:  I think I like this album more than Daytona.

B:  I like this album more than Daytona, but I think they are markedly different albums. I’m super intrigued by the idea of a this-length Daytona.

Z:  Yeah I think that the power of Freddie Gibbs’ cocaine bars are amplified by how good this album is and how good he meshes with Madlib.

B:  I think Kanye and Push is almost as compelling as MadGibbs.

Z:  I would say MadGibbs is a better duo than Kanye and Push. For instance, I like “Crime Pays” more than any Pusha-Kanye song.

B:  Ehhh, “Numbers On the Boards” I think is like one of my favorite songs of all time, a Kanye-Push collab.

Z:  That’s a good point. I’m gonna say Pusha T, but I think Freddie Gibbs is making better songs with Madlib.

B:  Totally. I think I’d rather listen to a Freddie album than a Push album at any given time, I think it would be a more compelling album, but I think I like Push more as a rapper, and I don’t think this album is anywhere near as good if it’s Push and Madlib, but for that one moment on “Palmolive,” Push had him. That might be the best verse on the album.

Z:  Excluding “Practice.”

B:  Excluding “Practice,” that doesn’t count.

What’s next for each artist? In terms of collabs, moves, or whatever? Tour?

Z:  I hope they go on a huge tour and make a lot of money.

B:  Yeah. This album has gotten way more press than Piñata did already. It was more anticipated than Piñata was.

Z:  Like, prerelease?

B:  Yeah.

Z:  I don’t know what Freddie will do next. It sounded like they were pretty set on doing the sequel. That would be pretty awesome if they just went straight to that after touring and all that.

B:  I think Freddie’s gonna do a solo album.

Z:  Yeah, and Madlib is always on his own shit so…

B:  I wouldn’t be surprised if Madlib didn’t take another job until Montana, although he has teased Maclib, which I’m super hyped on. If that was Mac’s first posthumous release?…

Z:  Yeah, that would be awesome, and I feel like they would work well together because Mac’s production could benefit from a little more griminess and a little less glitzy, sitting around the piano type of stuff.

B:  I don’t think either artist would feel inclined to do this at this stage in their careers but I would kill a good hardworking family for an Earl-Madlib album.

Z:  That’s a hot take.

B:  I stand by it. I will add the caveat, they have to be white. Blue collar, probably Trump voters based on those demographics.

Z:  Maybe kill some cops…

B:  Oh I’d kill a thousand cops for, like, for a turkey sandwich with just the right amount of tomato.

There are also some Kenny beats off Freddie that are really hard…

Z:  I feel like a Freddie-Kenny project could be hit or miss, because I personally feel like 777 was an anomaly in that he was able to keep the album pretty fresh and good.

B:  Ehhh, I think Anger Management is really good.

Z:  Yeah but Anger Management is what, an eight-song project? I could foresee a 15 or 16 song project with Freddie and Kenny Beats getting kinda boring. But I’ll say it again, Pusha T and Madlib should make an album.

B:  Yeah man, the streets need MadBricks, like man, that would be filthy.

Z:  But I’ll be very happy with a Maclib.

B:  Yeah, if we ever get Maclib I’ll be thrilled.

What about MetroGibbin?

Z:  MetroGibbs! That could be good. Again, it could be boring. I would love like a MetroGibbs Without Warning, like 5 songs.

B:  I’ve got one for you: MadThuggin.

Z:  Madthuggin? As in Madlib and…?

B:  Young Thug.

Z:  That would be really…

B:  Interesting. I can’t even think about what that sounds like. I bet you Madlib likes Young Thug, too.

Z:  OK, final thoughts?

B:  It’s gonna be real hard for something to displace this for album of the year.

Z:  Overall? Or rap album of the year?

B:  Period. The year’s half over…

Z:  Where’s the Frank Ocean release?

B:  Yeah, like, the only things that could even shoot at this would be like a Frank album or a Kendrick album, which I do think is coming this year.

Z:  Kanye’s been teasing for Yandhi for ages…

B:  I don’t care about Kanye albums at this stage in my life, I’m gonna keep it a bill. Ima listen, for sure, but…

Z:  I don’t know, I mean I loved his last ones.

B:  I did not love ye. I think ye is certainly his worst solo album.

Z:  I thought ye was an 8.5 and I thought Kids See Ghosts was also an 8.5.

B:  I thought Kids See Ghosts was an 8.5, ye was like a 7.8, maybe.

Z:  I think he’s running out of gas a little bit.

B:  Oh, he’s cooked, I think he’s cooked. I think he should go on an album every five years schedule. Also no press.

Z:  Is Jay-Z working on anything?

B:  Probably, but like, man he’s got three kids, he’s 50, like… I don’t think that’s on the forefront of his mind.

Z:  Yeah. I don’t see anything really… certainly this is far and away the frontrunner for rap album of the year… until we get the Zack Fox and Kenny Beats…

B:  Yeah once we get the Zack and Kenny collab…

Z:  Triple diamond.

B:  Triple quadruple diamond, triple double no assists.

I think this is a career-making project for Freddie Gibbs. Like, I think there are very few rappers in this generation that are more talented than him. There are almost none that have made two albums as good as the two MadGibbs albums. Almost none.

Z:  And his other solo projects have been fine, but this shows that Piñata was not a fluke.

B:  No. Which I think is a dumb argument, but it could have been an argument. Now it can’t, at all.

Z:  I think it puts him up there. I don’t know if I would put him on Kendrick Lamar’s tier, personally, right now. But Kendrick hasn’t been doing anything, and especially is coming off of DAMN, which was my least favorite project of his.

B:  I think it was most people’s least favorite. I think if Kendrick is like Kendrick tier, then Freddie is for me like Earl tier.

Z:  I see that.

What’s your score?

B:  A solid 9. I’d say Piñata is a 9.5.

Z:  I’d give it a 8.5.

B:  I’ll round down. DXCEGAME 8.5/10.

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