This album has that gangster feel to it like Scarface (the movie) or Only Built 4 Cuban Linx (the rap album). Freddie Gibbs raps about his experience living the street life before being a full-time rapper, and Madlib’s production gives the story a real cinematic feel. When you think of a gangster-rap album, you think of all the themes this album touches: drug dealing, drug consumption, struggling, grinding, violence and sex. Gibbs also recruits some good guest features that fit the theme, including Danny Brown, Raekwon, Scarface, Ab-Soul, and some members of Odd Future.
The album starts with a laid-back feel, even though Gibbs is rapping about a rough lifestyle. After a few songs with relaxing vibes, things take a more serious tone in the second quarter of the album, with songs like “Sh**sville”, “Thuggin”, and a Young Jeezy diss on “Real”. The album continues with a laid-back vibe, as Madlib uses some soul samples to make his beats. Freddie’s raps are most appealing for his stories and his message more than anything else, as each song feels like another scene in a film. Highlights from the second half of the album include the song “Knicks”, where Freddie reflects on how his life’s changed from when Michael Jordan scored 50 points in New York to when Lebron James did the same thing, and the almost 6-minute cypher at the end of the album.
Overall, the production on Pinata reminds me of when Madlib teamed up with MF DOOM on Madvillainy. It has a real cinematic feel to it, as the little skits at the end of songs really make the album flow smoothly from song to song. Freddie Gibbs sounds good over all these beats, but he’s not exactly a super-lyrical type of rapper. He’s very direct with his rhymes and says exactly what he means. I’d imagine most hip-hop fans have this in their top 10s for the year, but for me personally this album didn’t have that much replay value; a lot of the songs had a lesson or message I only needed to hear once, without any clever wordplay to keep me coming back. I think it’s Madlib’s production that makes Freddie Gibbs sound so good.
My Grade: B
Remember to check back here tomorrow to see which album came in at #16 on the countdown!