Favorite tracks: "Gat Damn," "Freestyle Shit," "Fake Names"
The most talented crate-digging producers in rap hear music differently. To locate a loop minutes into an obscure song is a kind of magic. Madlib knows he’s good at it—that’s why he releases beat tapes. Which brings us to Bandana Beats, the instrumentals for his most recent collaboration with Freddie Gibbs. The Gary MC has one of the best voices in rap—sturdy, gripping, dexterous—so good that it can gloss over the beautiful and weird details of Madlib’s production. Like the second part of “Fake Names”—I didn’t hear how the vocal sample swam below the high-pitched flute run that appears every 12 or so seconds. Or the sample of “Elastic Love” by Revolution Funk on “Freestyle Shit”—without Gibbs you can decipher the singer’s words when Madlib lets the loop out a bit, like tailoring a jacket. There’s plenty to marvel at here.—Ross Scarano