Today, Freddie Gibbs and Madlib release their second collaborative album, Bandana. Among the LP's highlights is the song "Education," putting Freddie in good company with two of the greatest lyricists to ever grace a mic in Black Thought and Yasiin Bey. Listen above on YouTube.
Each artists' verse provides an education, painting a picture of surviving in trying times in vivid detail with an emphasis on the struggle of African-Americans and other exploited groups through history. Among the strongest one-liners are Yasiin's bars on the school-to-prison pipeline, "The jail overcrowded, they emptied out the school," Black Thought's big-picture message about, "The puppeteers playin' you for spite," and the survival-of-the-fittest mentality of people caught up in violence, when Gibbs raps, "My cousin beat me for a pack and I put the beam on a nigga." With the amount of talent on this track, they could've rapped about anything and made it sound incredible, but they chose to speak on a subject that most artists would shy away from: Education.
The song maintains an aesthetic similar to the old-school boom-bap era of the '90s. Madlib masterfully pieces together a sample of R.D. Burman's "Dance Music" (previously sampled in Kanye West's production of Nas's "Bonjour") into a dark and gritty beat. A haunting vocal howls at the listener throughout the track but leaves space to let the verses shine. Adding to that old-school feel, the production has the feel of a vinyl record.
Bandana is the follow-up to Freddie Gibbs and Madlib's first joint-project Piñata. There was a hype built up around the album after the duo's release of the hilarious and creative "Crime Pays" music video. The album also includes features from highly praised artists Pusha T, Killer Mike, and Anderson .Paak. Bandana is available for purchase on Amazon and major streaming platforms.