Freddie Gibbs & The Alchemist — Alfredo — Album Review

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Hip-Hop | Rap

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Freddie Gibbs definitely feels like the kind of rap artist I should’ve discovered earlier. Nevertheless, my first experience listening to the all-rounded rapper would be July of last year, in which I discovered his second full-length collaboration with producer Madlib (what they like to call “MadGibbs”); Bandana.

My opinion towards the album at the time felt a little lukewarm. While I still enjoyed the album enough (especially when you add featured artists like Anderson .Paak and Killer Mike into the mix), the project as a whole didn’t exactly blow me away. I found the whole “cocaine trope” to be a little tedious in the case of Bandana, and I feel like many of the beats played it quite safe.

Further down the line last year, however, I did finally get round to listening to the earliest album from MadGibbs, that being 2014’s Piñata. And this album I enjoyed a considerable amount more, as the production felt a lot more clean, and the project as a whole had a nice conceptual feel to it.

Having said that I feel the kind of production found on Piñata fits much better with Gibbs’ smooth and gliding vocal style, I was curious to see what a different kind of collaboration would result in. The collaboration I speak of is what we will be exploring today; one between Gibbs and producer The Alchemist on the brand new album, Alfredo.

From the very moment this album kicks off, Daniel Alan Maman (The Alchemist) manages to make his musical mark on the record, while simultaneously refraining from drowning out Gibbs’ rap flows. His style of production carries a similar retro aesthetic to Madlib’s approach on Bandana. However, the beats on Alfredo feel a lot more punchy and far more engaging.

The beats really add more of a gravitas to the album and really empower Freddie Gibbs and the bars that he spits. The versatility of moods that each of the beats respectively create also make Alfredo a far more fun and memorable listen too, in my opinion. In fact, I don’t think there is a single song on this project that has failed to play on rotation in my own subconscious.

And also, the idea of putting the iconic “Thriller” laugh into the beat of “Frank Lucas” was absolute genius!

But moving on from producer to rapper, Freddie Gibbs keeps his aesthetic ground, and continues to spit bars in the way that only Freddie Gibbs could do.

The “cocaine trope” is indeed still alive and kicking. However, I found it to be more than tolerable in the case of this album for some reason. Perhaps it was the fact that it was sort of joked about on “Something to Rap About”, or whether I’ve just gotten used to that being his thing, but I feel that everything Gibbs spits feels a lot more genuine.

The whole atmosphere of this album, and the societal topics that are explored through either sound-clips of the lyrics themselves, made the overall experience feel very immersive, and I could almost put myself in the shoes of the artist.

While we’re on the subject of the overall experience of the album, it manages to feel very substantial, despite having a standard quantity of ten tracks, and an overall runtime of just over half an hour. Those kinds of albums, in a structural sense, happen to be my favourite kind.

And despite this quite trim structure, Alfredo still manages to cram in a lot of brilliant featured artists, which include the likes of Tyler, the Creator, Rick Ross, Conway the Machine, and Benny The Butcher.

But going back full-circle into what I love the most about this near-flawless project, The Alchemist’s production quality really spices up Alfredo to a whole new degree of enjoyment, one that I’m sure will stick with me just as much as Tyler, the Creator’s IGOR did this time just over a year ago.

And I’m yet to figure out whether it because of the official beginning of summer (if you’re going by calendar months), or the current situation of the Black Lives Matter movement, or a combination of the two, but I found myself paying way more attention to Alfredo than I normally do for a number of other rap albums. And it’s certainly fair to say that it glows with a certain sense of importance and prevalence that I’m sure will ultimately stick with me up to the end of the year.

Alfredo is an incredible project, a remarkable improvement upon Bandana (in my opinion), and one of my favourite hip-hop records of 2020 so far. Every single track feels memorable, enjoyable, and important in their own respective way. The amount of creativity and effort put into this album, from all who were involved, really shines through.

Favourite Tracks: Scottie Beam | Something to Rap About | Baby $hit | Babies & Fools | Skinny Suge

Least Favourite Track: n/a

ESGN | ALC | EMPIRE

10/10

My articles mainly revolve around music reviews and analysis. A bit like Anthony Fantano, but just a decade behind.

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