Earlier this week, Freddie Gibbs and Madlib conspired to release the rap album of the year. Titled Pinata (or Cocaine Pinata to give the project its full and un-chain-store-friendly moniker), it’s a 17-track listen that’s shot through with the steely feel of a future classic. It’s also a project that contains the song “Real,” an all out verbal assault on Freddie’s ex-label boss Young Jeezy that has already got the blogs buzzing over its incendiary content.
So before hip-hop’s new favorite duo gear-up to bring the Pinata experience to the Gramercy Theatre this coming Saturday evening, we called up Gangsta Gibbs to talk about how Madlib made him a better rapper, the nuances of the track “Real,” and just exactly what his own flagrant take on the ancient art of karaoke is.
How does it feel to see fans on Twitter already calling Pinata a classic?
I think it is a classic. That’s the feeling I was going for when I was making it — I wasn’t bothered by what everybody else was doing. Each project for me is a different time capsule of my life.
What was your mind state when making Pinata?
You know what? For the majority of that record you can see the growth in me in the lyrics. I was trying to be different to everyone else out there. That’s where my head was at. I’m not someone who’s just gonna put out a project every six months — that’s what’s wrong with the rap game. Everybody is so fuckin’ fast food and you got to put out a project every six months — fuck that. That’s why the game’s so fucked up; that’s why everybody has ADD and don’t give a fuck about whose album came out six months ago. I forgot a bunch of niggas’ albums that came out last week, you know? That shit’s like whatever, like a one-day commercial then that shit’s over. No one gives a fuck.
What was working with Madlib for an entire album like?
He was great. He’s got a way of making shit that I want to hear. I just felt like I wanted to showcase how versatile I was by doing a record no other rapper in the game was doing. I’m a perfectionist and I stand alone in hip-hop — I’ve always done that.
Are there any songs you and Madlib finished that didn’t make the album?
Not really. That’s one thing we ain’t really do — we ain’t really waste music. Whatever we did together it seemed to work and it made the record.
What’s your favorite Madlib production on Pinata?
Probably “Uno,” that’s my favorite song on the album. That beat was just kinda like some old west coast gangsta shit and I got that from Madlib, you know? I knew I could rap on that shit.
Did you have many conversations about music while working with Madlib?
Yeah, definitely, and we still do ’til this day. He might go and pick up a vinyl record and he’ll call me up and talk about the history of it. I learned a lot about music talking to Madlib; he made me a better rapper.
How did he do that?
It wasn’t so much direct tips on rapping so much as just the level at which he works. He raises your level when you work with him.
How did Madlib react when he first heard your lyrics on “Real,” the song about your situation with Young Jeezy?
He loved it. He knew I was mad at the time — that’s how I felt at the time — so I spit it out. That’s how I write, just what I feel at the time.
How soon after leaving Jeezy’s CTE Records did you write that song?
Very soon after, like it was probably a day after I left.
Do you expect Jeezy to come back with a dis song about you now?
I don’t give a fuck about Jeezy. He can make a song, he can do whatever the fuck he wants to do. He can’t do what I did so whatever.
What song on the album do you think is going to be most underrated or overlooked?
Well you can’t really skip over shit with this album but probably the most underrated record is actually gonna be “Real.” I don’t think motherfuckers are gonna give this whole album credit — it’s gonna go over a lot of people’s heads — but for the most part that “Real” record is like the “No Vaseline” and “Hit ‘Em Up” of today, you know? That’s my opinion.
What was the thinking behind the “Lakers” and “Knicks” sequencing of songs?
Really I wasn’t thinking about that at first. I knew I wanted to pay homage to L.A. so I made “Lakers,” and the “Knicks” song came out of nowhere towards the end. I had a song about nickel-bags and I was talking about the New York Knicks for a bit and I took that concept and put it together and it seems to work.
And the song with Scarface, “Broken”?
That’s my homeboy so that ain’t nothing but a phone call for me. He did his verse in Houston. It’s like I got to work with my favorite artist. He inspired me to do my job and there’s nothing better than that. I can’t even describe it; I still don’t believe that Scarface is on the album.
Does it seem surreal that you’re making songs with Scarface?
Yeah, it’s definitely surreal that I got him and Raekwon on my record.
What about the skit where you’re singing a version of TLC’s “Waterfalls”?
Ah, man, that shit was just me drunk as fuck. I hope TLC don’t get mad at me.
Do you ever do karaoke?
Nah, I don’t do karaoke, I do Freddieoke.
What does Freddieoke involve?
That’s like singing in the shower, singing butt-naked when you’re fucking a bitch and just bustin’ out shit at random times.
What’s a classic Freddieoke song?
A classic Freddieoke song is “Contagious” by the Isley Brothers and R. Kelly. [Sings “What the hell is going on between the sheets in my home?”] That’s a classic Freddieoke song.
So do you and Madlib have any plans to record a Cocaine Pinata 2?
Hell, nah. That shit’s not gonna happen. It’s a once in a lifetime thing. You got to get it now. [Pauses] When Jay and Kanye do Watch The Throne 2, that’s when you’ll get Cocaine Pinata 2. But watch how many nigga’s albums are now gonna sound like this shit.
How does it make you feel when you hear other rappers sounding like you?
I’m flattered. I fathered a lot of these rappers. I’m at the point in the game now where I definitely see the style biters… I don’t even know if you’d call it biting ’cause motherfuckers definitely pay homage to me. I know I raised a nation of niggas off my raps; niggas are lying if they say I’m not their inspiration. If you’re five years younger than me and you rap, you listen to my shit.
I had to be a hybrid rapper to survive in this game. My situation is not a typical situation when it comes to rap, and I showed a lot of these niggas the right tactics. A lot of them ain’t even signing to major labels now. Niggas don’t give Freddie Gibbs credit but I definitely raised a nation of rappers.
Freddie Gibbs and Madlib perform at Gramercy Theatre on Saturday, March 22.