Commemorating their latest album's critical success, Freddie Gibbs and Madlib performed for a full house at the NOVO.
Due to the popularity of hip hop, inexpensive concerts are constantly set up to give audience members a chance to observe their favorite performers. However, with this growth, there still are a few times when people are not able to see their favorite artists perform live (sorry MF Doom fans). With this grief, music lovers could only dream of the moment where these events are made possible. This day, I experienced one of those dreams. On July 12th, underground rapper Freddie Gibbs returned to Los Angeles in the best way possible, with producer/DJ Madlib. This duo personified and cemented their legendary status with an amazing performance of their recently dropped album. Bandana.
Before we discuss the men as an odd yet satisfying duo, it's best to discuss the two as their separate entities.
A definite transition from the Jackson 5, Freddie Gibbs is the new face of music for Gary, Indiana. Not much is known or documented about Gibbs' hometown upbringing, though it's safe to say that there is a street culture in Gary, that is both unnoticed and undisclosed. The anti-establishment that is pressed on his hometown, inspired the rapper's lyrics to tell his story of growing up in a very hidden yet dangerous city, From pursuing a career in football, to getting kicked out an attending boot camp; Gibbs' perception switched. "Why trust a system, that is ultimately placed to allow black men to lose", he thought. The once educated student-athlete turned to street knowledge of hustling and selling crack. Though an awful transition, it allowed him to tell factual stories within his growing rap career.
Finding more ties into the music industry the rapper decided to come to Los Angeles. Lucky for him, the scene of LA rap is welcoming to out of state rappers. With his comfortable confident attitude and real-life street cred, Gibbs fitted right into the city. His first deal with Interscope Records fell off with the ever-changing management program of the music industry. His first critically acclaimed internet release was 2009's The Miseducation of Freddie Gibbs, a combination of all of Gibbs' unreleased studio material. From 2010-2013, Gibbs continued releasing mixtapes and signing to various labels including Young Jeezy, which is safe to say that the deal did not go too well. By his tenth release Baby Face Killa, Gibbs caught the attention of other artists including collaborations with SpaceGhostPurp, Jay Rock, Currensy, Dom Kennedy and more.
At a random party in LA, Gibbs ran into lowkey legend, Madlib. Full disclosure if you're unfamiliar with Madlib, please get to know this man. From Oxnard, the disc jockey sampled music as far back as the age of 11. Mastering in understanding the artistry of music. he gained recognition in the hip hop community. His talents drifted genres including hip hop, jazz and electronic. Over the years, with several pseudonyms; Madlib/Quasimoto remixed tracks and gained a large fan base. In 2003, he returned to hip hop with notable collaborations with J Dilla (Jaylib) and MF DOOM (Madvillain). These collaborations capitalized his career with the top albums of all time in hip hop. This resume, allowed Gibbs to take an immediate interest in the producer. Conversations then turned into actions as the duo released 2014's Piñata. Five-years later the success of the album inspired to duo to return for 2019's collaboration Bandana.
So far, Bandana has been well received and even noted as one of the top albums of 2019. For their debut collaboration, Madlib shined as a producer. However; for Bandana, Gibbs shined as a grimy street soldier/lyricist. Recently, both men have been enjoying the success of the album with loud and proud interviews, and even a new tour. The Bandana tour is set to stop all over America and even touch base in parts of Europe. Lucky for us, we were able to catch the show at Los Angeles' Novo, which unfortunately always attracts a unique crowd. Known for hosting underground performers at a fair price, the venue is the perfect place for hip hop heads to unite. Kicking off the night was Soulection co-founder, DJ Joe Kay. Kay performed several blends from past producers like Kanye West, DJ Premier, and J Dilla. The at-capacity crowd enjoyed the nostalgic tunes but, eventually grew restless waiting for the closing acts.
Luckily for the audience members, Madlib shortly arrived onto stage. The legendary DJ/producer spun for a few showcasing the many hits from his iconic discography. Just as the audience members began riding the wave that is Madlib, Gibbs appeared on stage looking as ready as ever. The rapper emerged from backstage with Los Angelos accepting him with open arms. Gibbs' level of rap finally transcended onto stage for the full-house crowd. Swift yet threatening, his voice echoed throughout the NOVO. His skills on the mic snapped in a way that was unexpected for both new and old base Gibbs' fans. Connecting to the crowd Gibbs began his set performing Bandana hits "Crime Pays", "Fake Names" and "Flat Tummy Tea". Understanding the power of his voice and the crowd's reactions, Gibbs decided to repeat his first sets. Something unusual yet, brilliant for a small staged concert. After taking in the new album- Gibbs and Madlib reached back into their first collab album to perform hits like 'Shame" and "Get High". Gibbs' charismatic energy and humor was enjoyable to see from a man who has been through so much. With this joy, he even allowed introvert Madlib to come out of his shell in the sake of artistic energy.
The rapid-rhymer hopped onto the minimal beat and reminded everyone about his placement as one of the top rappers in the game. Without a doubt the duo performed an amazing show by connecting with the crowd and displaying the late 2000's form of good hip-hop music. Could Bandana be the best album of the year? I guess we'll just have to wait and see.