Freddie Gibbs may arguably be one of contemporary hip-hop’s most unheralded emcees but he also is one of my favorite emcees. Sure, Gibbs’ work talk about the street life but with a stark, unvarnished honesty. And unlike most mainstream emcees who take on exaggerated, superhuman personas and tell tales in which nothing ever goes wrong, Gibbs lyrics pulls the showbiz curtains back, revealing the bruised psyche, broken heart and failures of the actual, breathing man. Gibbs’s narratives involve characters who have been snitched on, been thrown in jail and made terrible mistakes.  

Gibbs’ latest effort Piñata has the emcee teaming up with hip-hop’s most inventive and interesting producer, Madlib. And in many ways the album bears an uncanny similarity to Small Professor’s and Guilty Simpson’s impressive collaboration, Highway Robbery in the sense that both albums are the result of a shared artistic vision – and in many ways it sounds unlike three-quarters of the hip-hop you’d come across on your mainstream Hot 97/Power 105.1/Starbucks/Coca-Cola/Nike super-conglomerate radio station. In other words, this is grown men shit that talks about the evil that men do and the regrets that they have. 

The latest single and video “Harold’s” has a soulful sample with a bit of Maker’s Mark smoothness, as Freddie Gibbs spits fire. It’s pure, street hip-hop at it’s finest — limber tounged emcees spiting fire over dope beats.