Initial Thoughts on Bandana: A non-review

9 Jul


There are a lot of online reviews for the new Freddie Gibbs and Madlib collaboration, Bandana. I’ve read most of them. Some articles were bloated, text heavy articles that distracted from the subject matter and brought the focus onto the writer, some articles were short blurbs written by people who sound like they just started listening to rap music back in 2011, when they first discovered Kendrick Lamar. Some cats, were just plain disrespectful, saying that Madlib, without Freddie Gibbs, “might be just another ‘low-fi beats to  study to’ producer”. 

I’m not comfortable enough to write another goofy review on this album–nor do I think it is even necessary– because I don’t feel like I’ve studied it enough yet. I told myself it would take  at least 20 listens to have an informed opinion–and I’m only on my 14th listen–,but here is what I think so far.


Things I like:

  • Beats are incredible and all over the map; with multiple beats (most notably Fake Names)sandwiched in on the same songs. The production is A1, smooth, clean, but rugged (the biggest mindblower is that the beats were all made on an IPad. The skits and interludes are hilarious and bring the perfect amount of levity to an otherwise dark album. The album is perfectly sequenced and each song feels like a set up for the next. I’m not crazy about the first three songs on the album, but this is an album that must be digested in its entirety so I never skip them. Unlike, Pinata which comes out hard hitting and lets up periodically throughout the album, the first couple of tracks serve as exposition before things really begin with the single, Crime Pays. 
  • The guest appearances on the album are sparse, but effective. Palmolive seems to be a fan favorite , with Pusha T and Killer Mike (singing the hook–which I’m not crazy about when I’m honest about it) on a slow and soulful beat. Giannis, with Anderson Paak, and Education (featuring Black Thought and Yasiin Bey) strikes me as the two most powerful tracks.
  • The album hits a really sweet spot from Fake Names to Education (especially the back to back cuts, Cataracts and Gat Damn which feel so quintessentially L.A. to me)


Its a strong album. I’d like to both listen to Pinata and Bandana in order to get better perspective and context (I also can’t wait to hear the instrumentals version of this album). As of now its standing on a solid A-. My only criticisms are about a few verses that seem too similar to some Freddie Gibbs had written previously on other albums and guest appearances. It was the first time I’d heard Freddie get bested by other rappers on the same song.

Upon first listen, I was slightly underwhelmed and even got a little annoyed at a friend who suggested that Bandana “pooed” on Pinata. They are such different albums. Pinata is a slightly longer album (by 15 minutes), but one that can be listened to multiple times while driving in their vehicle (something I’m looking forward to with Bandana). Pinata feels harder, more street, with more bravado, while Bandana feels  more soulful and introspective. Pinata made me feel like Gibbs had pushed past the uphill part of the grind but was still not quite where he wanted to be yet. Bandana feels like he’s finally gotten to the top of the hill and is now reflecting on what it took to get there.

Regardless, it is a very important album that one can tell that a lot of thought went into every step of it being made. Gibbs says that he wrote the lyrics to the album at the same time as he was writing for the mixtape, Fetti (the under the radar mixtape he made with  Curren$y), and his solo album, Freddie. 

Rumor has it that this is only the second part of a MadGibbs trilogy in waiting. I hope for our sake it doesn’t take another 5 years for us to hear it.

Favorite Tracks:

Situations (hardest song on the album much like Thuggin’ on Pinata)

Fake Names (Possibly Freddie’s best display of rapping)

Gat Damn (My second favorite track on here. A great juxtaposition of a feel good beat and somber yet melodic lyrics)

Education (super heavy)

Giannis (My Third favorite track)

Least Favorite Tracks:

Half Manne Half Cocaine, Massage Seats (the only two tracks that still have yet to get more interesting with each listen)





profile pic b mick  Bobby Mickey is the alter ego of writer and poet Edward Austin Robertson. When he isn’t involved in some basketball related activity, actively looking for parties to deejay or on the airwaves at KDVS, he is working on his basketball book, This a Good Ass Game.







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