Last year, Freddie Gibbs and Madlib showed us just how potent they were on their Thuggin EP and got my hopes up that the near future would exhibit a full-length project from the duo. An LP has yet to surface but for the time being, their newest collaborative EP, Shame, will definitely make due. Similar to the formula they used for the first project, Shame includes eight tracks in the form of two full songs, the instrumental and acapella for each song, plus two bonus beats. It’s an interesting concept, and I like being able to hear each part of the recording and production process between the two, displaying each of their talents individually while proving the combined skill set is nothing to fuck with.
The title cut, “Shame” features BJ the Chicago Kid seamlessly transitioning his vocals amongst the original samples and to a lazy ear, his vocals could easily be confused for those of the original. I wasn’t familiar with BJ other than seeing his name around online but after hearing him on “Shame,” I plan to check out more of his work. Madlib’s sample of choice for this track, The Manhattans, “Wish That You Were Mine,” is a heartfelt tale of adultery that he dissects into pieces creating a remix of sorts. The result is an instrumental full of manipulated but soulful and melodic loops placed together to create a loose yet beautiful beat, providing the foundation for a story gangsta Gibbs is able to effectively narrate. Stomping on familiar ground, Gibbs paints a lyrical portrait of lust and betrayal, reciting lyrics of infidelity from the opposite sex and, his self-promoted passion for sleeping with women that are already spoken for. He works his delivery between a smooth laidback flow and rapid-fire double time bars while dropping lines like, “But I let that ass convince me/Took it in there and hit that/wish I could say it was accidental/like I slipped on a banana peel and fell in that pussy.” This beat is definitely for the emcee that’s a writer more than a vocalist and I credit Fred here with creating a flow structure that fits the obscure feel of the beat and making it sound so effortless.
“Terrorist” features harrowing verses from Gibbs offset by Madlib’s ridiculous flip of Maynard Ferguson’s, “Mister Mellow.” Emphasizing the relaxed guitar and a full, cruising bass-line, Madlib turns this track into a smoothed out instrumental that doesn’t sound as eclectic as “Shame” but is layered with pieces of the original, not straying far from the vibes the original song creates. Gibbs’ verse comes in the form of Fred rapping from a fly on the wall perspective, illustrating the ill’s of the life, and speaking from a place that I’m sure he is all too familiar with; a short and straightforward account of the “fuck-it by any means attitude” that many of our country’s worst neighborhoods have bred. Off top, Freddie G. lets you know that it’s not going to be about fun and games beginning his verse with, “Tales of the terrorist/young black felonious/red-blooded American/gave this bitch a taste of that lil’ boy she cherish it/fucked her veins up now she shoot her foot with the heroin.” “Terrorist” portrays the very vivid account into the ideology of a drug dealer/criminal and the distress that they bring unto their own people and onto their own soil i.e. the terrorist.
Of the two “bonus” beats that Madlib offers up on Shame, “Later That Night” is the stellar cut. It’s a psychedelic and dusty flip of The Moments classic song, “Sexy Mama,” which was also used on The Firm’s album for the track “Firm Family.” “Later That Night” also features some introductory vocals from Redman, which only add to the creative artistry that is this flip. The beat is random and I don’t believe that anyone would really rap over it, but all that aside, Madlib’s timing and ability to create almost perfect transitions between the loops is genius. Like I stated earlier, he is basically making remixes of the original songs and leaving space for vocals rather than looping one component of the song adding his own drums and turning it into a beat.
I was unable to determine the sample used for the 55 second long beat, “The Morning After” but it’s definitely a lo-fi vintage song. Once again, I would be surprised to hear someone rapping over this and I’m not sure what the point was in adding the track. However, it is a dope little instrumental that is choppier than the other ones, creating what sounds kind of like an audible collage.
I found the whole Shame project to be a very solid listen the first time around and since getting the EP, I’ve been playing the hell out of the single “Shame.” I’m honestly not sure why they didn’t just release the two full songs as individual singles, but I’m not here to judge the Stones Throw marketing tactics but just as with Thuggin, I’m left wanting more. However, let’s hope that they continue to tease us with high quality tracks such as “Shame” and “Terrorist” until that full-length record comes out. You can also have the extra beats and acapella’s because they are unnecessary. All I ask is for more of the uncanny and powerful chemistry that is Freddie Gibbs’ relentless lyricism and hard-nosed delivery combined with the smooth and sonically diverse sounds that make up Madlib’s ingenious instrumentals.
Shame feat BJ The Chicago Kid
Later That Night