Ever since Freddie Gibbs and Madlib’s Bandana dropped on June 27, nothing else in hip-hop has mattered.
The 15-track studio album features, to be frank, straight-up the best production you will find out today and is complemented by the hungry, soul-bearing underdog that is Gibbs.
It’s the first time the duo has worked together since 2014’s critically acclaimed Piñata and they picked up exactly where they left off. Except for this time, their chemistry was even more in sync.
Freddie came into the project with a lot to get off his chest and Madlib didn’t have to change one thing for his contributions to still be iconic, as you’d expect from a legend like himself — all which played into making Bandana special.
From the hard-banging thrillers like “Flat Tummy Tea” to somber reflections like in “Gat Dam” you can tell and just know that this project feels different. It’s one that sits with you after and one that you can’t wait to repeat.
As is evinced in the response which has been both loud and diverse.
heads up: there’s a new freddie gibbs & madlib record out, and it’s great
— b-boy bouiebaisse (@jbouie) July 1, 2019
Freddie Gibbs and Madlib combined gangsta rap, nostalgic instrumentation with a touch of pro black messages all in one. INSTANT CLASSIC.
— OG Henny Loc (@RJPiff_) June 28, 2019
Albums like Bandana don’t come along too often. You know it from the moment it starts playing to each transition throughout. That’s why we had to do some digging to see what other factors that the average listener and naked eye might have missed that went into setting this album apart.
Here are five things you didn’t know about the making of Bandana:
Bandana is a follow-up, NOT a sequel to Piñata
As you should know by now, 2014’s Pinata was the last time Freddie and Madlib got together. While it ended up being a cult classic, no one really knew how the pairing was going to work out.
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In speaking to Complex this past Monday, Gibbs touched on teaming of with the West Coast producer again, what the collab means for hip-hop and how it’s definitely not a sequel.
“There’s definitely pressure when you’re coming with a follow-up to anything. That’s why I don’t get into part-twos or no sh**t like that,” he said.
“Pinata was Pinata and this is Bandana. I want this to stand alone and be a classic in its own right.”
It took five years to complete
Another reason Bandana sounds like and has the substance it does is that the album took five years to make.
Both Freddie and Madlib knew the quality of music and the magic they found in each other, opportunity just wasn’t in their cards until 2019. And a part of that was because of Freddie’s arrest in 2016.
Bandana was largely written from prison in Austria
In June 2016, Gibbs was arrested in France for an alleged rape that took place in Austria. Though he was later acquitted of these charges in September of that year, the mental, financial and even physical toll it had on him made the rapper question music.
“I was listening to Madlib’s beats when the fucking police arrested me,” Gibbs told Complex in an interview. “It was so easy to write the raps when I was in jail because I had the beats in my head already,” he said.
“I didn’t have nothing in there but God and my memories. All I could do was just remember beats.”
In the song, “Gat Dam”, he recalls fasting in an Austrian prison that didn’t provide Muslim-friendly meals. “Say my prayers, Alhamdulillah/No bacon, ham, bacon, ham/And cold salami/That’s all they serving,” he sings.
Bandana was conceived in raw emotion and in every track, you can fell that.
Madlib made all the beats from his Ipad
I made all of the beats for Bandana on my iPad.
— Madlib (@madlib) June 29, 2019
One of the most surprising and viral moments that was later revealed about the making of Bandana was that Madlib did it all from his iPad.
The Cali-born legendary producer best known for his arty music with the likes of MF DOOM and Dilla, in one tweet, took a shit on so many up and coming producers’ lives because he gave no excuse as to why one can’t get off industry-quality content.
Some of these niggas mad lmao. I’m gonna keep making good music I like. I’m gonna keep doin my thing till i’m 90. i’m gonna keep getting better. That iPad remark was just to say stop making excuses – use a tape deck if necessary. Technology is what you make it.
— Madlib (@madlib) July 1, 2019
To think that this album, which Madlib masterfully crafts in what one can only describe as Picasso-like imagery with his instrumentation, was done on a device that over half of Americans own is a testament to his genius.
Gibbs lost close friends while making Bandana
From the instrumentals and samples to the very lungs Freddie was rapping from, the soul you feel throughout this album is real. Not only from the time it took to put in and the trials faced, but because close people were lost over the span of making this album as well.
Lambo, who helped discover Freddie and is his long-time producer and friend, posted on Twitter the day the album dropped some memories of their mutual partner, ‘Josh The Goon’ who died in 2017 due to an enlarged heart. “Josh the Goon got a n***a back to flowin’,” Gibbs raps on the song “Situations.”