March 4, 2014

tumblr_mqh3y3Ix5i1qee466o1_500Deen drinks with Scarface every weekend.

Messrs Herb & Bibby first came to my attention circa 2012 when I came across their remake of Project Pat’s classic, “My Hood.” A remake isn’t necessarily the most efficient way to gain attention in 2014 and the same was true back in 2012 when we all thought the Mayans might have been right, but it certainly beats spamming muthafuckas with links to your Soundcloud page. In any case, the two young Chicagoans gained even more attention when the Lord of Beige, Drake, uploaded an Instagram post with him singing along enthusiastically to the pair’s banger, “Kill Shit.” For the record, Drake’s apparent tastes in rap music appear to be better than his music like 75% of the time, but that’s a topic for another day.

My fandom was sealed when I sat down with last year’s informal/collaborative mixtape Heirs Apparent, which revealed these newbies to be a more technically inclined alternative to the drill shit that’s been coming outta Chicago in the last few years. Or for the simpletons amongst thee, Chief Keef sans dreads plus bars. Herb and Bibby talk about the exact same shit you’ll hear outta Keef and Reese and Durk and whoever else has come outta that scene, but they definitely place an emphasis on the rhyming over anything else. I appreciate that. Greatly.

Even though most of us were introduced to the duo as a package deal, I don’t think they’re actually an official duo or group (despite their impressive chemistry.) So I was curious to hear what each had to offer without the other. Bibby probably stood out more on initial listens due to his booming, Bun B-esque voice, along with what seems to be more of a media presence, but Herb ain’t no slouch.

Bibby’s Free Crack dropped back in November and I’d be lying if I expressed anything other than mild disappointment. The voice remains intact and there are a few bangers, most based on sounds that aren’t necessarily traditional to the trap/drill shit they’ve made their bread and butter up in Chicago (‘Water’ and ‘Whole Crew’) or his collaborations with Lil Herb (‘Shout Out’) and King Louie (‘How We Move’), but the young man whiffs for the most part. A lot of his chosen production is a little too generic and his attempts at incorporating melody into his delivery and hooks is kinda painful. But there’s obvious talent there. I remember thinking that he probably just needs to work with Herb more often and I tucked that shit away until I decided to write this.

On the other hand, Herb’s ‘Welcome to Fazoland’ sounds like the work of a man that knows exactly what his strengths are already. It probably doesn’t hurt that he’s more technically adept than his cohort, but he seems to have a better ear for production as well – regardless of the type of song he’s trying to make. In addition, nerds like me are always going to have a soft spot for any MC that thinks it’s a good idea to devote a song a two to just rapping endlessly with no hook in sight. And best of all is the fact that Herb has quite a bit of depth to his verses – it’s less about the technique (which is impressive anyway) and more about the content. A few years ago, this would be the point in the review where I’d say some shit like “a song like ‘Momma I’m Sorry’ is too good to be on a free mixtape.” This man just sounds hungry as hell.

However, I think it’s telling that if I had to list my 5 favorite songs across both tapes, I’d have to include all the collaborations between Herb and Bibby (‘All I Got’, ‘Know Something’ and ‘Shout Out’). Not that I can explain exactly how it works, but the chemistry between them just works. Almost M.O.P.-esque. And forgive me if it seems as if I’m tryna pit them against each other for your affection – that isn’t the goal here. Black Power and all that. After all, I’m concluding that I’d rather hear them together than apart – even though both are more than capable of standing alone – one more so than the other. For now at least…

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