Freddie Gibbs and Madlib make an unlikely duo: Gibbs is a brusque street-rap purist with "an icemaker for a heart," Madlib a crate-digging cult hero with a taste for deep psychedelia and free jazz. But the MC and the producer click in surprisingly satisfying ways on their first full-length album together, as Madlib's beats add a druggy, unpredictable edge to Gibbs' hard-boiled grudges and regrets. At its best, Piñata recalls the dark-alley vibes of Raekwon's classic, RZA-produced 1994 debut, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx . . . . It's no coincidence that one of the strongest tracks features an excellently grim guest verse from Rae himself.
From The Archives Issue 1205: March 27, 2014