Music Features

Was Freddie Gibbs Snubbed At the Grammys?

Did King's Disease truly deserve the "Best Rap Album" Grammy? The answer is murky.

Freddie Gibbs and The Alchemist

After Freddie Gibbs's coveted 2020 album, Alfredo, lost out to Nas's King's Disease for Best Rap Album at last night's Grammy Awards, Gibbs's fanbase collectively aired their frustrations online.

"Nas finally wins at the Grammys, but Freddie Gibbs loses," captioned one fan on Twitter. "Idk (sic) how to feel...I'm both happy and sad." Other fans were less forgiving. "F**k that," wrote another Gibbs fan. "I congratulate Nas, but lowks Freddie had it man."

Gibbs was indeed seen by many as a near shoo-in for Best Rap Album. Alfredo's mafioso sheen and muted jazzy backdrops are as timeless and sophisticated as vintage denim, and Gibbs's verses are so potent that they were scribed across cardboard signs this past summer during the BLM protests.

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Taylor Creek Media/Shutterstock

Recently, rapper/actor Shad Moss, AKA Bow Wow, sent out a tweet about his ambitions to become a WWE superstar after his final album.

Bow Wow, 33, sent Twitter into a frenzy with tweets to WWE legend, Rey Mysterio, about forming a tag-team. The Like Mike star even engaged in smack talk with superstars from WWE's main roster and NXT.

Hip-Hop and professional wrestling have a storied history. Both billion-dollar industries have crossed paths on several occasions in attempts to create moments that fans of either will love.

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Eternal Atake - Lil Uzi Vert

A great album is like a little world.

Some worlds are more fun to live in than others, and these albums were worlds we all wanted to move to forever in 2020. It was the year of the quarantine album—but what that album looked like varied from artist to artist. From maximalist relics of 2019 to housebound 2020 offerings, here, in no particular order, are our top 14 albums of 2020.

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Music Lists

Slept On: Underground Acts You Need to Listen to Today

These acts have gone underappreciated for far too long


The highly anticipated return of Lady Gaga, the unexpected collaborative drop between Freddie Gibbs and The Alchemist, the sensual R&B crooner Ro James returning for his sophomore go-round: These are but a handful of big-time releases that will consume the masses today.

With an overwhelming amount of new music presented each Friday, it's important to shine a light on the hard-working underdogs, the artists who are putting out captivating tracks without mainstream recognition. Below are a handful of independent acts that also released new projects today. From the silky bravado of Keffa to the idiosyncrasies of Deem Spencer, here are underground releases that need to be on your radar.

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Stones Throw Records

"Living off borrowed time, the clock tick faster," MF DOOM raps over the disorderly "Accordion" instrumental.

The eclectic Madvillainy, the underground collaboration between Madlib and MF DOOM, was released on this day in 2004. Over a decade later, it is still one of the most acclaimed and dissected projects in hip-hop history, partially due to the obscurity that shrouded it during its creation from 2002 to 2004. The duo quietly crafted the record while on a trip to Brazil, armed with nothing more than a Boss SP-303, a tape deck, and a turntable. Madlib has always thrived in minimalism (he recently mentioned that 2019's outstanding Freddie Gibbs album Bandanawas produced entirely on an iPad), and he later mentioned that the creative process with MF was like pure telepathy. He told Pitchfork, "Everything was spontaneous."

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Freddie Gibbs and Madlib's "Bandana" Is a Timeless Hip-Hop Gem

The pair teams up once more for a modern classic.

HipHop 24x7

On their second collaborative effort, Freddie Gibbs and Madlib sound more comfortable with one another than ever before.

The duo's first album, 2014's Piñata, was as critically acclaimed by the music industry as it was in the underground. The success of the duo's initial collaboration took many by surprise. It was hard to picture how Freddie Gibbs' raw braggadocio would compliment Madlib's left-field, lo-fi, and chilled-out beats. Madlib's production seemed best suited for eccentric, unconventional emcees, such as MF Doom, Quasimoto, Lootpack, and Talib Kweli. This concern, however, dissipated entirely with Piñata, wherein Gibbs demonstrated to the world his versatility as an artist—unraveling his characteristically gruff cadences into smooth lyrical meanderings and meditations.

Still, as revered and enjoyable as Piñata was, it didn't reach the full potential of what the duo was capable of. Many of the tracks sounded like Gibbs was rapping over recycled Madlibs. It didn't feel fresh or meld their distinct styles into something unique.

On Bandana, however, Madlib and Freddie Gibbs are in their prime—both artists bend enough to adopt each other's styles while still retaining enough of the elements that make them unique. As opposed to offering up another album of Gibbs merely rapping over Madlib-instrumentals, on Bandana the duo gives fans Madlib-produced tracks specifically for the emcee.

The newest iteration of Madlib's production is dense, particularly when contrasted with the sparse, lo-fi sound of his discography. There is still that classic Madlib sound heard in his heavy reliance on soul samples and the occasional clip of movie dialogue; however, Bandana sees him using heavier drums, more polished low ends, and aggressive in-your-face sampling styles a la Kanye or RZA. This is particularly palpable on tracks like "Message Seats" and "Giannis," featuring Anderson .Paak.

Speaking of features, Bandana has relatively few, which makes this album feel more like a true collaboration and less like a mixtape. Only three tracks showcase an additional artist, whereas Piñata's tracklist boasted 8 songs with features. The emcees chosen to appear alongside Gibbs are intelligently curated—they're perfectly in sync, both with Gibbs' hardened sensibilities and Madlib's tradition of off-kilter, golden-era production.

Pusha T and Killer Mike assist a smooth ode to hustlin' on "Palmolive;" Anderson .Paak's melodic flow fits perfectly in the pocket of the upbeat, James Brown-sampled "Giannis"; and Yasiin Bey (formerly known as Mos Def) and Black Thought sound right at home on the soulful joint, "Education." In short, no feature on this album feels excessive or gratuitous.

It is rare that a hip-hop album is able to effectively speak to the current cultural moment as well as align itself with the struggles and concerns of the artists it samples. Bandana manages to do just that, with Gibbs relaying his own contemporary experience through candid, retrospective, and unflinching narrations of injustice, economic hardship, and the struggle for Black power. Madlib's beats channel artists who were no strangers to similar topics, like James Brown and Donny Hathaway.

Hip-hop, at its best, looks to the future while paying homage to the past. It creates a new sound out of the music that influenced it and fits itself into the longstanding tradition of Black rhythm and blues and its joys and pains, searching for answers and finding solace in the music. This is precisely what Freddie Gibbs and Madlib are up to on Bandana, and that is why the album is one of the best of 2019 so far.