This album was released on June 28th this year. I really don’t think I need to say much about this album in this preamble. If you’re a Hip Hop fan, you know what this is. It’s probably the most hyped up album of the year. People have been begging for this album to drop for years now, and I had a couple of people just begging me to hurry up with this review. I personally wasn’t really expecting to be blown away by this project like everyone else was. I don’t think I loved Piñata as much as most people, and I didn’t think this would be better, but I was pretty sure that I’d enjoy it because I liked all the singles. Madlib is also one of my favorite producers of all time, so I was definitely looking forward to it. I just wasn’t expecting it to be the best album of the year like a lot of other people were.
This track is just a 29 second instrumental intro, and it legitimately made me laugh out loud the first time I heard it. Hearing what I assume to be a Japanese dude call Madgibbs “my n*****” with a thick accent was f****** hilarious to me. Before any fake woke people get up my a** about this, I’m not laughing at Japanese people’s accents. I’m laughing because he said the N-word. Before some other fake woke people get up my a**, I don’t condone nonblack people using the N-word. It just makes me laugh when I’m not expecting it. Obviously, if some Japanese dude was calling me his n**** I’d have to tell him to chill, but that’s not the case here. This s*** was funny to me.
2. Freestyle S***
Honestly, when I first heard this album, this track had me really worried. I do not like this song. I don’t think it’s wack. There are things that I like about it. I’m not gonna be listening to it again in the future though. First of all, I think the production from Madlib is fantastic. I like the beat a lot. I just don’t care for Freddie’s melodic delivery on this track. It was kinda cool at first, but it’s just way too repetitive for me. It gets annoying after a while. The song is kinda cool, but it’s just a really underwhelming way to start the album. Again, it’s not bad. It’s just not entertaining enough to warrant any repeat listens from me. It’s decent though.
3. Half Manne Half Cocaine
Okay, THIS is where s*** really starts getting good. My n****… This s*** is f****** incredible. I have to admit that I was a bit taken aback the first time I heard this song because I was not expecting to hear a Trap instrumental from Madlib. I mean, I’d seen some discussion about Madlib doing a Trap beat, but I just wasn’t expecting it to come this early in the album. It doesn’t sound like a Madlib beat at all. However, I have to admit that the beat is still fire. It’s not what I come to Madlib for, but it’s really well made. The hook on this song is really catchy too. The first couple of verses are pretty dope despite their brevity. The final part of this song is what makes it stand out though… N****… When that beat switched up…
That beat is f****** NASTY. It’s f****** insane. I really like how the mixing on Freddie’s vocals become shittier once the beat switches. The muffled vocals really work with the gritty production and Freddie’s aggressive delivery. This is seriously some of the hardest, most gangsta s*** I’ve heard all year. The sound effects in the background of the verse are really the cherry on top for me. I wish y’all could’ve seen my first reaction to this verse because I was losing it. Freddie f****** spazzed on this s***. It’s insane. The song is f****** amazing. I love it. I think this actually ended up being my favorite track on the album too. This s*** is boiling hot fire. The music video is awesome too. I love this s***. It’s dope af.
4. Crime Pays
This is one of the singles that I’d already listened to before checking out the full album. It’s dope. I don’t think it’s amazing or anything, but I definitely like it a lot. The production is pretty great, and the first verse is solid. The second verse was far more impressive to me though. His flow was really dope, and I thought the little jab he threw at his ex-friend who was dickriding Jeezy was cool. Some people were saying it’s a Jeezy diss, but he doesn’t really diss Jeezy himself. He disses someone else for being cool with Jeezy. The song itself is dope, but I think this beat would work better for someone like Homeboy Sandman. He would sound perfect over this. The song is still really good though. I f*** with it.
5. Massage Seats
The beat on this song is f****** incredible. I think this is another track where Freddie’s vocals could’ve been muffled. It would’ve sounded great on this track. Even though I love this beat a lot, I don’t think it’s the kinda instrumental that I’d be in love with without someone rapping over it. Anyway, the first verse was pretty cool, but I think the second one is much better. None of the bars really blew me away, but Freddie sounds perfect over this beat, and his flow is dope. I kinda just wish this song was a bit more fleshed out. I feel like it could’ve used a beat switch with one more verse where Freddie really goes off. It’s still a really awesome song though. I love it. It’s dope af.
6. Palmolive featuring Pusha T & Killer Mike
This song has a really nice, smooth beat. The first verse from Freddie has some rough mixing again. I’m still not really sure how I feel about that. I think it works better on songs that have really gritty beats and aggressive verses. This one’s a bit too smooth for that. The verse itself is dope though. This line made my jaw drop.
F****** my pastor’s daughter in two Jesus pieces
That s*** is cold as hell, but it’s fire. I also really loved that line about how he got his face signed with a razor blade. That s*** was hard. Unfortunately, this verse also contains the infamous anti-vax line that people have been criticizing ever since the album dropped.
Maxine Waters, f*** your poison, keep your vaccines off us
I was also very disappointed that Killer Mike was only on the hook instead of having an actual verse on this song, but thankfully Pusha T came through at the end for a GLORIOUS verse.
Real bars are the ill bars
These scars are the only real proof they couldn’t kill gods
My coke hand is still sketchin’ out my memoirs
What I did to door panels on them Windstars
It’s one of the best verses on the album. Again, I’m a little let down that Killer Mike didn’t have a verse, but the song is still really great. I’m glad Pusha T’s verse was mixed properly too. This s*** is dope af.
7. Fake Names
Once again, the production from Madlib is stellar. It’s definitely one of my favorite beats on the album, especially up to this point on the album. The first verse from Freddie on this track is awesome. His flow is great, and I love the story he told about his pre-fame drug-dealing days. I really f****** love the beat switch for the second verse too. That second beat is absolutely stunning. It’s so f****** good. The second verse was really great, but I personally preferred the first one. The song as a whole is boiling hot fire though. It’s definitely one of my favorites on the album. It’s dope af.
8. Flat Tummy Tea
This was the first single that I heard from this project, and I f****** love it. It’s another one of the best songs on the album in my opinion. The production is phenomenal, and Freddie’s flow on the first verse is crazy. The hook is just a recycled quatrain from the first verse, so it’s not really an exciting part of the song, but the production and rapping is so good that I didn’t even care. The beat switch for the second verse is f****** awesome; the way the percussion is slowed down and stretched out makes for a really trippy effect. The line about knocking white Jesus off of a white horse was really cool, although I’m not sure that it needed to be repeated three different times in the verse. The song as a whole is still sizzling hot fire though. I love this s***. It’s dope af.
This is another one of my favorite tracks on the album. The production is really comforting and warm sounding. I even liked Freddie’s melodic delivery on the first verse. It sounds really good to me. It reminded me of Fabolous’ delivery on We Good. The sung hook actually sounds pretty good too. Again, I enjoyed the first verse, but he really snapped on that second verse. His flow was insane. This is one of the best songs on the album sonically in my opinion. I could’ve done without that long-winded outro, but the song itself is fantastic. This s*** is dope af.
10. Giannis featuring Anderson .Paak
This was another one of the singles I heard before checking out the full album. Once again, the production from Madlib is top-notch stuff, and the first verse from Freddie was really great. I think Anderson .Paak sounds really nice on the hook too. Freddie’s second verse is probably my favorite part of the song. That line about Ace Hood’s Rolex bezel falling off at the B.E.T. awards a few years ago was pretty funny. It’s weird to me how people gave Ace Hood so much s*** for that. I mean, it was a little strange, but people were accusing him of buying fake jewelry. He had like the biggest Hip Hop song in the country around that time though, so he obviously didn’t have to buy fake s***. He just had a shitty jeweler I guess. That’s neither here nor there though. The verse from Freddie was great. It was kinda cool to hear a verse from Anderson .Paak, and he did his thing I guess, but I definitely would’ve preferred a third verse from Freddie. The song is still pretty awesome as a whole though. The music video is really good too. I love it. It’s dope af.
This is another really smooth Madgibbs track, similar to Shame from Piñata. The production is really gorgeous. The first verse is awesome too. The story about his infidelity is super well written. It’s pretty interesting stuff. The muffled Soul sample sounds amazing during the break between the two verses. The second verse was really great too. Honestly, I like this track way more than Shame. That was a good song, but I like pretty much every aspect of this song more. The beat is phenomenal, and I find the lyrics to be more intriguing too. It’s one of my favorite tracks on the album for sure. I love it.
Once again, this is another one of my favorite tracks. Man… The beat on this track is absolutely f****** incredible. I love how cheerful and celebratory the production sounds. It just makes me feel like I’m speeding down the highway with my windows down on a sunny day. The buoyant production is juxtaposed with some super violent lyricism, which I thought was really cool.
Seem like my actions was devil sent, I can’t sympathize
F*** Generation X, this generation genocide
Your social stat make you fantasize about a homicide
To me, the God Allah is the black man personified
The hook is really dope too, and the second verse is awesome. I thought it was kind of interesting that there were a lot of religious references in this song.
Mama said don’t leave out the house if you ain’t got Jesus with you
Last Supper, you might get f***** by n***** that’s eatin’ with you
The beat switch for the final verse was marvelous. Once again, Freddie’s vocals are muffled at this point on the album. It didn’t really bother me at all though. I can’t say it really affected my enjoyment. I was indifferent towards that decision. The song itself is amazing though. It’s definitely one of my favorite tracks. It’s dope af.
13. Gat Damn
This is the only other track on the album that I just do not care for at all. It’s easily the worst song on the project. The production is really great though. My issue is just with Freddie’s performance. He’s singing throughout this whole track, and it’s not good at all. The hook is really rough. The production is pretty much the only aspect of the song that saves it from being total a**. I really wish the instrumental version of this track was available because Freddie’s singing is difficult to stomach. This is about as close to wackness as a song can be without actually being wack. I’m gonna go easy on it though. It’s just mediocre to me.
14. Education featuring Yasiin Bey & Black Thought
This song stood out from the tracklist for obvious reasons. I have to be honest though; I was a little disappointed. I really just wasn’t thrilled about hearing this sample a third time. It’d be one thing if Madlib flipped it in a completely different way from the way Sonny Vintage or Kanye West did, but he didn’t. It sounds really similar. So now I have three different songs in my library with virtually identical beats. To this day, I still think Planet Asia’s song is the best version. This one definitely comes close though. It’s just hard to get excited about the production when I’ve heard this sample in two other songs already, and it’s just been in the past couple of years. The actual rapping on this track is some of the best on the album though. It was cool to hear from Yasiin Bey again since it’s been so long. He was on Kids See Ghosts last year, but his verse was kinda bullshit on that track, to be honest. His verse on A$AP Rocky’s second album was cool, but it was nowhere near as good as this. He legitimately killed his verse on this track.
Stone heart jewels and gold for the fools
The bones of the innocent is buckles on they boots
The jail overcrowded, they emptied out the school
See the devil twitchin’, ears itchin’ from the truth
He did have one line in there that I wasn’t really crazy about though. He purposely mispronounced the word “f***” as “fick” just so that he could stretch a rhyme. It was kinda lame. The verse was great as a whole though. So yeah, I was already pretty impressed with his performance, but then Black Thought came in and absolutely demolished that second verse.
Me, Freddie, Flacko, and Shot never forgot though
That Plymouth Rock landed on top of new Morocco
Couldn’t see who was firin’ shots, the shooter got low
And left a burnin’ cross on the lawn just like a pothole
Then Freddie Gibbs comes through at the end to slaughter. One other nitpick I have is the way the song flows. The way each verse ends and transitions into the next one just sounds really awkward to me. The beat completely stops and you just hear Yasiin Bey say “…And that’s life… An education…” It’s definitely not a big enough issue to ruin the song, but I’d be remiss to not mention it at all. The song is dope af overall, but not one of my favorites.
15. Soul Right
Once again, the production on this track is phenomenal. Not to come off like Shawn Cee, but the beat that plays during the intro when Freddie’s talking about how smooth his bald head is sounds really familiar. I think it might sample a Sun Ra track, but I’m not sure. If it is a Sun Ra track it’s from his very first album with the Arkestra. It’s probably not even Sun Ra lol. I don’t know. Anyway, the way it switches up for the actual rapping from Freddie is pretty cool, and the first verse is dope. I’m not really a fan of the sung hook from Freddie, but it’s tolerable. The second verse was a lot better than the first one to me. I like this song, but it is kind of an underwhelming way to end the album in my opinion. Nothing about the song really stands out that much. I like it though. It’s just nowhere near as great as a lot of other tracks here. It’s not the worst though. It’s a good song.
+ Bandana featuring Assassin
This was the second single released from this project, and I was pretty surprised that it didn’t make it onto the album, especially since it would’ve been the title track. I think it’s really good. The production is awesome to me, even though it kinda sounds like something Madlib would’ve made for that Bad Neighbor project with Blu & Medaphoar. The production is actually probably my favorite aspect of this song to be honest. The first verse from Freddie was pretty great though.
I throw my set up, fly my bandana
I give a hater a handicap with this hand cannon
My Brooklyn b**** drove them kilos from New York to Atlanta
Heroin was 98 Foxy, I turned it white like Vanna
The second verse was great too. I also like the background vocals from Assassin during the hook a lot too. The final verse from Assassin was pretty cool even though I could barely understand what he was saying. Even though I think this song is better than a few of the tracks that made it onto the album, I guess I can kinda understand it being left off. It’s not as energetic or exciting as most of the tracks on the album. It feels really low-key. Again, it reminds me a lot of Bad Neighbor. Speaking of which, I’m glad the instrumental version of this song was released because I’d really like to hear someone remix it—preferably Blu, but that’s unlikely. Anyway, I like the song a lot, but it’s not as amazing to me as the best tracks from the album. It’s dope though.
This album is really great. It’s not my favorite album of the year or even my favorite album from June, but I can’t say that I’m disappointed at all. I think Piñata is the better album personally, but I actually think this one has higher highs. I just think Piñata is more consistent. This project definitely has some of the best songs I’ve heard all year though. I’m still struggling to choose a favorite track. There aren’t any songs on here that are bad to me, although one of them came close. I’m really glad Freddie & Madlib are taking five-year breaks between their projects because it’s nice to get some variety from Freddie. Madlib is one of my favorite producers of all time, but it’s fun to hear Freddie over other people’s beats too. I’m looking forward to Montana. I’d be fine waiting until 2024 for it, but I won’t be disappointed if it comes sooner. I don’t think Bandana has any consistent flaws personally. There are just some nitpicks on a lot of tracks that add up for me. The biggest problem comes with some of Freddie’s singing I guess, but there are tracks where he sang that I really enjoyed, so it’s a case by case issue. I love the album personally. It wouldn’t make a top 10 list from me for 2019, and probably not a top 15 either if I’m being real. Definitely top 20 though. I think. I’d have to think about. The album is great though. I really enjoyed it. It’s dope.
FAVORITE SONG: CATARACTS
LEAST FAVORITE SONG: GAT DAMN
Republished from Focus Hip Hop