By Scott T. Sterling

Freddie Gibbs and Madlib interact with the cool confidence one might expect from NBA All-Stars. Or a couple of artists who are fully aware that they’ve produced a hip-hop album worthy of its five-mic rating. Only out a week, the duo’s first LP has already earned a spot on many year-end best-of-2014 lists. And Gibbs isn’t surprised.

“This may be a little premature, but I think we etched our space in history with this record,” he said. “There’s nothing else like it.”

On Piñata —originally titled Cocaine Piñata — Madlib has crafted a modern Blaxploitation soundtrack, using keen ear for samples to invoke the rich, Technicolor soul of pimp-powered ‘70s classics like Willie Dynamite and Petey Wheatstraw.

Lyrically, Gibbs rolls out vivid street testimonials that transcend your typical tales of slangin’ and bangin’ to touch on the deeper complexities of city life. The pain expressed in tracks like “Deeper” is palpable. Gibbs’ storytelling abilities and authoritative delivery have drawn comparisons to rap icons like Scarface and Wu-Tang Clan‘s Raekwon, both of whom make appearances on the album.

Never one to pull any punches, Gibbs is just as candid during his interview with, openly asserting himself as one of the world’s best rappers and unafraid of anyone taking a run at him lyrically, including former business associate Young Jeezy. Gibbs famously walked away from a sour deal with Jeezy’s CTE label after just a year in 2012 and lets his feelings be heard on the track “Real.”

“Who can run at me lyrically?” Gibbs said in regards to any potential retaliation from Jeezy. “I ain’t really worried about him making no track back or saying nothing. I could care less about that. [‘Real’] was how I felt that day, and I spoke on it and put it on wax…I make these n—-s’ diss records look like ‘Kumbaya’…You come at Gibbs, that sword better be sharp lyrically, because I’ll dig in you. I could do this s— all day. I got plenty of energy to do that. I don’t think no rapper want to go to that level with me. Eventually, he gonna want to fight me.”

Watch‘s entire interview with Freddie Gibbs and Madlib above.


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