Piñata Already a Classic
The return of classics
“Piñata” is one of the peaks in hip-hop, and it deserves the glory it's receiving. It was released only two years ago, but it has already gained mass following and global approval. The famous hip-hop producer Madlib teamed up with the Indiana rapper Freddie Gibbs. They have recently hinted at the possibility of a sequel, which would be a delight.
Madlib’s music consists of obscure and catchy samples from the 70s –“No More Parties in L.A.” for Kanye is a good recent example- combined with hypnotic beats and occasional electronic arrangement. Madlib has worked with other rappers prior to Freddie Gibbs, and his proudest achievement has to be “Madvillainy”, an epic alternative hip-hop album from 2004, made with none other than MF DOOM. Piñata is a similar project in quality, although Freddie brings a full West Coast feeling to the project. Madlib’s production is superb and detailed, inviting many rappers to give their best. The title track is a sort of posse cut; it features Domo Genesis of Odd Future, G-Wiz, Casey Veggies, Sulaiman, Meechy Darko of Flatbush Zombies and Mac Miller. It’s the longest track on the record by far, reaching nearly nine minutes. There are prominent strings looped on the beat and it’s a great way to end a great album.
Freddie Gibbs delivers on every single track and he even stands out on the last one. That’s hard to do, because he featured many excellent rappers on it. Raekwon the Chef made an appearance on “Bomb”, which is another cool track of the album. It’s one of the rare electronic instrumentals, so it’s a change of pace after a couple of bangers. “Uno” is another chill beat with a mesmerizing melody and a sharp verse from Freddie. He’s rapping about his dark past, this is a theme that is being addressed on most tracks here. He is using an old tool here, but his sharp delivery does give him some extra points. He’s also a good lyricist, he certainly doesn’t use standard hooks or verses.
“High” is a marihuana song, rapped alongside Danny Brown, another avid smoker. Madlib actually used an old tune from Brown’s relative, who used to be a singer in the 70s. The original song is titled “High (On your Memory)”, and it’s a lovely oldie to check out.
Ab-Soul made a solid guest appearance on Lakers, a classic sports song that must be a part of a hip-hop album. It’s a cliché, but it works because of the quality delivery. Ab-Soul should work with Madlib more often, because they showed some hidden potential on that song.
One of my favorite tracks on the album is definitely “Broken”. It’s a slow-burner with Scarface, a hip-hop legend. They paired up nicely, each giving a personal story of growing up and getting older in this young sport.
The best way to experience “Piñata” is by playing the whole thing. The tracks blend in together in a coherent work of art, worth checking out.