Will Hagle has seen you’ve played knifey spooney before.
Flume’s self-titled debut album was released less than a year ago, but the SoundCloud comments on the LP’s re-released, revamped “Holdin’ On” dismiss it as old. Even Flume himself lists Flying Lotus, now essentially one of his contemporaries, as one of his major influences.
The Australian-bred producer is scheduled to release a deluxe edition of his internet-ancient album in the coming months, and the new edition is accompanied by added perks such as a Freddie Gibbs feature, the “revamped” portion of the aforementioned “Holdin’ On.”
With the MadGibbs project looming, Gibbs seems to be cashing in on his ability to step into unusual, untested production territory and absolutely destroy it. With each of his unusually-produced verses, as well as his more standard ones, Gary’s last living finest has certified himself as one of the best rappers breathing.
There’s a good chance you know what Gibbs is going to be rapping about on any given beat — the reality of growing up in Gary, Indiana, of selling drugs and smoking weed, of relocating to Los Angeles and living the life of a rapper. These themes are far from new to the genre, but Gibbs presents them with a raw simplicity that somehow surpasses that of the internet age’s most daring experimenters. Gibbs’ descriptions of his Harold’s Chicken Shack order — “six wings, mild sauce, with the bread stuck to the bottom” — are the hood counterpart to Action Bronson’s more lush, epicurean rhymes.
Since a Gibbs verse is ever-reliable, strong production is enhanced by his presence rather than vice versa. Imagining 2C hainz over Madlib production is a struggle, but picturing Gibbs on any of B.O.A.T.S. or its sequel’s beats just makes sense. Danny Brown’s Old straddles the line between traditionalism and rave-rap and he conquers both with poise. Still, it seems like he changes up his voice and flow from track to track. Gibbs never does. It’s the scenery that changes, and it adapts to him accordingly. Or, if the background’s already strong enough, that stays the same, too.
MadGibbs isn’t good because both artists got in the studio and found out that they happen to work really well together. It’s because both separate entities are able to do their own respective things so well. Madlib is one of the greatest producers of all time, Gibbs one of the most technically-skilled rappers of this era. It’s a simple formula.
Flume’s addition of Gibbs is similarly simple. Flume makes music that uses samples, synths and tribal percussion sounds in a style that leans toward hip-hop while still allowing him to perform as a DJ/producer of electronic music rooted in dubstep. Give Gibbs any beat that somewhat resembles hip-hop and he will make something of it. That’s not to say every Gibbs song is amazing, just that all of them are on a level playing field. E$GN had twenty tracks and each is enjoyable, but only a few really stood out. He’s batting 1.000, he’s just not always hitting home runs.
This might not be his best work, but it’s significant in that it’s one step further outside of his usual terrain. It simultaneously demonstrates his versatility and his dependability, and that’s a potent combination for any artist to possess. In just a few short internet seconds the full MadGibbs project will finally be here, but this is the next best thing.