Published Mar 18, 2014Piñata is the culmination of a slowly building collaborative process rapper Freddie Gibbs and genial producer Madlib. The two have been putting out through a series of EPs dating back to 2011, but this LP stretches the set's Blaxploitation theme out in full for the first time, inviting listeners into the fleshed-out world of Gibbs' imperfect yet unrepentant old thug persona.
Madlib serves up a subdued string of largely spacious and moody soul beats that, for the most part, stay out of the way and allow the self-described "Freddie Corleone" to ruminate about the lust, allure, trappings and failings of hood hustling, all with the bravado of a thug game graduate who will never grow old.
While the beats and rhymes — helped along to varying degrees by guests Domu, Earl Sweatshirt, Ab-Soul and Danny Brown, among others — are as tight and efficient as you might expect, the record's many time-honoured hood tropes and (admittedly restrained) Blaxploitation elements simply fail to inspire through certain segments.
Still, Gibbs' genuine reflections on being broke, losing the girl or simply growing up help to break things up a bit and add a welcomed bit of realness where both humour and originality are somewhat absent.
Read our interview with Gibbs here. (Stones Throw)