• Mathew Scott
  • Freddie Gibbs and Madlib

When Miles Raymer wrote about Freddie Gibbs last month, he painted the Gary native as the last best hope of gangster rap. This is true: few MCs these days write material so street-focused. I mean, Chief Keef’s new single is called “Emojis.” But Raymer left one thing out about Gibbs’s importance—not only has he stubbornly refused to adapt to the genre’s thematic softening, he may also be the most technically capable rapper in the game.

Nothing proves this better than his work with Madlib. That’s the ultimate coronation. It’s not even that the legendary LA producer is picky about his collaborators (though he is); it’s just that few rappers can keep up with him. The Beat Konducta throws around ideas like a kid in a ball pit—some Caribbean psychedelia over here, some African drums you’ve never heard of over there. At a June show in San Francisco, he played strictly Zambian rock with Emmanuel “Jagari” Chanda (formerly of the band Witch). Later this year, he and Gibbs will release Cocaine Piñata.

“City” was presumably left on the cutting-room floor, which speaks volumes about what made it in. The bass line is as funky as a stampede. Karriem Riggins drums so frenetically you forget what a hi-hat even looks like. Gibbs is unfazed, though. No smoke clears for his verse—he simply blasts through the madness to ride in his Cutlass through the city limits. I have no idea how anyone finds pockets in this beat, but Gibbs gets into all of them. Stream the song after the jump, along with some of the duo’s other collaborations.