Freddie Gibbs is the product of violent, drug-laden streets but unlike most rappers with similar resumes, he brings the block to the boothwithout inhibition or an exaggerated rap persona. Piñata, a 17 track collaboration with producer Madlib, is the best distillation yet of histransparent approach to making music, combining an at times stark honesty with electrifying talent as a lyricist and performer.Piñata is “a gangster Blaxploitation film on wax,” says Gibbs, who came up on the streets of Gary, Indiana, the disregarded city previouslybest known for producing Michael Jackson. Here he is joined by Mac Miller, Earl Sweatshirt, Raekwon, Scarface, Domo Genesis, Ab-Soul and a host of others in setting his soliloquies of the streets alongside film snippets and dusted funk, soul and prog musical tapestries. While this is the latest in a series of single-artist collaborations for Madlib, after Jaylib (J Dilla), Madvillainy (MF Doom) and the street-centric O.J. Simpsonwith Detroit’s Guilty Simpson, the pairing is unique as it is the first time for Gibbs working with just one producer.On Piñata, where Gibbs can shift from textbook lessons in robbing and drugging on trackslike “Scarface” and “Knicks,” to perhaps thealbum’s most personal song, “Broken,” a collaboration with Scarface, who, along with Tupac, DMX and 50 Cent, make up the rapper’s ownMount Rushmore of MCs (“You’re getting a hurricane of all those motherfuckers hitting you at once when you listen to Freddie Gibbs,” hesays). “Deeper,” a Gibbs favorite and the third single from the album after “Thuggin’” (2012) and “Shame,” (2013) is an ode to hip-hop inthe mold of Common’s “I Used to Love H.E.R.”; “High,” featuring Danny Brown, is self-explanatory and just what you would expect fromGibbs, Madlib and one of Detroit’s finest; while on “Real,” Gibbs addresses an old score just as Michael Corleone settled all family businesson baptism day.As a producer, Madlib, quite simply, is music, and ten years into his career—a time when other artists become comfortable—Gibbs remainsrestless, focused, with an eye on the competition and their position relative to his ascent. This is because mentally, he’s still on the cornerhustling, which would be the downfall of the average rapper. With Piñata, Gibbs confirms that he is anything but average.
Ten years after its initial & highly slept-on release, Fat Beats Records & Frozen Files are proud to present the first-ever reissue of UN Or U Out, the classic debut album from The UN.Consisting of Roc Marciano, Dino Brave, Mike Raw, and Laku, the UN first emerged on Pete Rock’s 2001 Petestrumentals album, a primarily all instrumental release minus two tracks—“Nothing Lesser” and “Cake”, both featuring vocals by The UN. At the time, the group hadn’t performed live and never had major prior releases, although Roc Marciano had already made his name as a member of Busta Rhymes’ Flipmode Squad. Pete Rock fans were at first perplexed by the vocal appearance of an unknown group. Yet Pete not only had the confidence and foresight to introduce the four MCs, he also furthered the collaboration, making it full circle by lending production on “Game of Death (G.O.D.)” , “Avenue” and “Ain’t No Thang” on UN or U Out. UN or U Out remains a timeless listen, a deeply succinct homage to New York’s bygone era of gritty boom-bap, made with tasteful nods to Queensbridge’s cold-steel aesthetic.