What makes an album like Piñata so intriguing is that it pairs two seemingly different personalities together – Madlib, the enigmatic recluse and Freddie Gibbs, the bona fide front man with a big chip on his shoulder. But in that regard it makes perfect sense. They vibe off one another in just the right way.

As a litmus test they have already collaborated on three EPs together. The lead single to Deeper, the title cut, can be viewed as their overarching thesis – gritty narratives that hold nothing back, even if it means getting down and dirty with the details: [LISTEN]


Despite the heavy lyrical style that Freddie’s known for he does know when to let up. On “High” for example he sinks back into an easy chair, ruminates over a righteous Madlib beat, and gets all benevolent uncle on us: [LISTEN]


Madlib’s beats are a huge part of the album’s success. They are cinematic and lush with an attention to detail right on par with the Beat Konducta series. It’s a notable step forward for Madlib because he’s not the type of producer to just hand out beats for MCs to rap over. He’s selective if nothing else, which speaks to the synergy and trust between Gibbs and him.

With Madlib behind the decks, Gibbs has a proper soundtrack to get personal to. It’s a well played hand that adds depth to his stories. “Shitsville,” is a standout, with Gibbs explaining in fine detail what it’s like to live and survive in his world: [LISTEN]


He puts everything into this effort, relaying a myriad of personal stories, which range from a Young Jeezy dis track (“Real“) to an homage to a Chicago staple (“Harold’s“): [LISTEN]


For Gibbs and Madlib it’s a successful match, one that should be milked for at least another two or three more albums. If given the proper space and time to develop, this relationship could yield product that could one day, maybe, eclipse the likes of Gang Starr.