A piñata’s no fun without a bandana. Take the blindfold off and we know exactly what’s going to happen — thwap, hooray, yum, stomach ache. You might as well just go to the store and buy some candy straight up. But, you see, a piñata isn’t about the candy – it’s about the experience. It’s about the risk. It’s about the absurdity. It’s about the stories. It’s about the choice to keep your bandana on when you could just take it off and see.
Madlib threw on the instrumental for buoyant comeback single “Crime Pays” and Freddie Gibbs immediately stopped him. “Pause that shit, hold on, I gotta tell these motherfuckers a story.” He recounts a moment when his baby mama grilled him for selling drugs and hitting licks. His response? “Crime pays, crime pays.”
Gangsta Gibbs went on to rap the first verse acapella while The Beat Konducta scratched in zany chops and the crowd blurted out crux words. The three voices intertwined tightly without collision, conversing, communicating, alive.
The essence of Bandana lies within this simple observation: Freddie calls Madlib “Otis” — not “‘Lib,” not “Quas,” not “The Loop Digga,” and not once “Madlib.” Instead, he says “Otis” and enunciates every letter like a frustrated parent addressing their misbehaving child.
Let’s say Freddie Gibbs was a lo-fi hip hop head. It’s hard to picture, I know, but bear with me. He’s got an SP-404 tucked under his arm, every edition of Knxwledge’s Wrap Tapes in his Bandcamp library, and an unknowing resentment toward Chester Watson for taking all of the best lo-fi beats. Fuck it, he’s got cargo shorts on too, why not. Lo-fi Freddie praises Madlib for the expansive technical and stylistic innovations he’s bestowed upon the art-rap landscape. ‘Lib is a god to him and his peers.
But Gangsta Gibbs isn’t interested in lo-fi micro-nuances. Gangsta Gibbs likes energy. Gangsta Gibbs like attitude. Gangsta Gibbs likes havoc. If lo-fi Freddie made an album with Madlib, it would be predictable – hiss, crackle, boom, bap, and on to the next. But Gangsta Gibbs is a loose cannon – you don’t know what to expect. If he misses the piñata and whacks a spectator, so be it, it’ll make for a wild story. And when he does hit the piñata, that shit is going to be crazy.