I firmly believe that Freddie Gibbs is arguably one of contemporary hip- hop’s (shamefully) most unheralded emcees. Sure, his songs talk about street life – but with a stark, unvarnished honesty. Unlike, more mainstream emcees who seem to take on exaggerated, superhuman personas and tell stories in which nothing ever goes wrong for them, Gibbs’s lyrics go much deeper, revealing the bruised psyche, the broken heart, the regrets and the failures of someone who is at the end of the day, only a man.  

Gibbs’s latest effort, Piñata has the emcee teaming up with super producer Madlib. And from the singles I’ve heard and posted here, the album bears a similarity to Small Professor’s and Guilty Simpson’s impressive collaboration, Highway Robbery in the sense that the material is a uniquely shared artistic vision that sounds unlike most of the childless, mindless nonsense on your conglomerate radio station. After all, the mainstream doesn’t care about emotional and psychological complexity, and what Gibbs and Mablib do is talk about grown men shit. 

A Toronto, ON-based trio, BADBADNOTGOOD, which is comprises of Matthew Tavares on keys, Chester Hansen on bass, and Alex Sowinski on drums, recently remixed “Shame” off Freddie Gibbs and Mablib’s Piñata. And on their remix, they further cement their reputation for redefining both what an improvisational jazz trio should be and what hip-hop should sound like. But they also manage to reveal something that most people under 50 are well aware of – hip-hop is the lingua franca of international conversation. 

In any case, the BADBADNOTGOOD remix retains the vocal hook and chorus and Gibbs’ rumbling baritone, but their instrumentation gives the song a trippy, menacing and somewhat nightmarish air.