Thursday, July 18th, 2019

Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Crime Pays

…in mostly positive scores!


Julian Axelrod: Madlib showed up to his Entertainment Weekly interview in the thick of a three-day shrooms bender, in case you were wondering if the notoriously reclusive producer is ready to leave his bunker and play the game. The Bandana press cycle has been bizarre for the same reason it’s weird to review a MadGibbs “single.” On its face, “Crime Pays” isn’t any more commercial than the rest of the album; marketing it feels like trying to sell a picture of one letter of the Hollywood sign. But dig deeper and you’ll find it’s as addictive as the coke Gibbs chops up in his microwave. Madlib flips an elevator music trifle into a kaleidoscopic QVC acid trip that warps and warbles like the ghost of a lounge singer. Freddie Gibbs quickens the pulse with some of his most ambitious rhymes to date, piling up his personal, professional and political peeves in triple time like traffic on the 405. In a different, more benevolent dimension, maybe this would be a huge hit. For now, it’s just another entrancing transmission from the other side.

Ryo Miyauchi: Freddie Gibbs seems to sense Madlib — a producer notorious for half sketches and bumpy 120-second loops — itching to quickly move on to the next. He switches his flow into a double-time rush about halfway into “Crime Pays,” and it ultimately turns out to be a good call since he wasn’t mining much of a novel narrative out of the drug trade and unsafe sex. If anything, ironically, it’s Madlib’s luxurious boom-bap and its sweet loop found from his crate digging that could afford to stay a little longer.

Ian Mathers: Gibbs is good here, but really sometimes I realize I’ve been taking Madlib for granted b/w me, on this production.

Joshua Minsoo Kim: Listening to the sample source for “Crime Pays” is enough proof that Madlib’s still got it. Gibbs, unfortunately, is comparatively tepid. His switch to double time is so awkward that it ruins my desire to enjoy the instrumental.

Will Rivitz: Hip-hop is in a weird place when some of its longest-tenured stars are making music tailor-made for Tiny Desk, but if the vast majority of that series’ appeal is tied to the casual nonchalance with which its artists deliver their performances, I’ll welcome that casual nonchalance with open arms if it comes from the effortless flow and beat-collaging of Freddie Gibbs and Madlib. No matter how painstakingly this song may have been made, it sounds like it was thrown down live; with anyone else, that might be an insult, but here, it ends up the highest compliment.

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: Madlib’s beat is funhouse mirror elevator music, and Gibbs isn’t really saying anything new. But that’s the point with these two– sometimes, a well-practiced aesthetic and unparalleled technical skill can win out over anything particularly novel. The beat crackles and gleams, the sample pours in like molten iron into a mold, and Gibbs’ shows off his percussive rapping skill, adjusting tempos and rhythms with dangerous calm. It’s nothing new, sure, but I could listen to “Crime Pays” endlessly.

Reader average: [9] (1 vote)

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One Response to “Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Crime Pays”

  1. Bandana is definitely an AOTY candidate for me, happy to see this get some coverage here