Exploring everything from societal issues to 'hood survival, all with Madlib's soulful touch...

After a five year hiatus, Freddie Gibbs and Madlib are back with their Keep Cool Records debut ‘Bandana’. Still existing in a conventional hip-hop space, the album has an instant mid-2000s feel in places, with references to prominent figures from that era like Ace Hood, as well as Gibbs’ adherence to skill and authentic penmanship. Listeners are given consistency and quality throughout.

Proving to be highly conceptual, Gibbs manages to marry societal woes and systemic oppression with the idea of prioritising self-care. ‘Cataracts’ is the perfect example of this juxtaposition, imparting his wisdom on 'hood survival tactics to the masses, before jumping to his use of weed as a form of escapism.  

Elsewhere on the project guest features give ‘Bandana’ an exciting new dimension and feel. Pusha T on ‘Palmolive’ is a particular standout. Over a The Sylvers’ ‘Cry of a Dreamer’ sample, the G.O.O.D Music president delivers a greasy, cocaine-infused verse, staying true to form.

Anderson. Paak also shines on ‘Giannis’, lending the track a much-needed melodic and soulful touch, layered with an effortless passion. Madlib continues to provide the backing that allows Freddie Gibbs to shine, choosing to predominantly stick to slower, authentically instrumental led soundscapes across the LP.

7/10

Words: Nicolas-Tyrell

Dig it? Dig deeper: Joey Bada$$, Curren$y & Harry Fraud, Jay Rock

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