After a 5-year hiatus, “MadGibbs” is back in the spotlight. Underground hip-hop’s favorite duo is made up of Freddie Gibbs, the illustrious rapper with a machine gun-like flow, and Madlib, the intentionally elusive producer who doesn’t even own a cellphone. Bandana—their recently released, highly-anticipated second album—is an intricately woven tapestry of delicate soul beats and hard-hitting gangster raps that are, at once, brimming with machismo and palpable vulnerability. “I really opened up because I felt as if it was going to be my last album,” Gibbs tells me, referring to his stint in French and Austrian prison, before he was acquitted of all charges. It was there where he wrote most of the raps featured on Bandana, over a batch of Madlib beats that were stuck in his head. The final product possesses a sense of authenticity and introspection that transcends the exaggerated braggadocio that can pervade gangster rap. “I think both of those albums are two of the best albums in hip-hop—probably top 20,” Gibbs declares of Bandana and Piñata, its 2014 predecessor. He may be biased, but he’s right. We caught up with Gibbs and Madlib to get their gut reactions on 8 random topics.
MADLIB: That shit is just like meat, but better. I fuck with it. Me and my kids eat them all the time. You got to try the kielbasa sausage. That shit bomb.
GIBBS: I don’t know about that. I can’t fuck with the Kielbasas. You know what I’m saying? The burger I can fuck with. It’s good for your health. I’m with it.
GIBBS: I like country. [Singing:] “I got the horses in the back.” I can bump it. It’s telling a story, like rap. It’s kind of similar to how I like hockey: I like wearing jerseys and shit, but I don’t really know all the rules. I support it, and I fuck with it. I like all forms of music, man. If it’s jamming, it’s jamming. I don’t give a fuck what it is.
MADLIB: I find stuff in everything. I have some famous country breaks, but yeah I don’t really know too much. I’m sure there’s great music in it.
MADLIB: It’s like when you put an effect on a guitar. That’s the way I look at it. It’s good for commercial music, for people that can’t sing.
FREDDIE GIBBS: I definitely think that it’s an artistic tool. Some of my favorite songs use Auto-Tune. T-Pain is a legend. He doesn’t get the credit he deserves.
MADLIB: I love zebras. It’s our connection to Africa. In the “Crime Pays” video, it’s more of a drug reference. It’s some gangster shit. Freddie can explain it better.
GIBBS: I got the whole zebra concept when I was making Piñata, since I wanted to conceptualize something that would stick with people. Kind of like what Madlib does with the Quasimoto thing. It started off when I had a black table in my room and I was cutting up some cocaine, and I don’t know, maybe I was high, but I looked at it and was like, “That shit kind of looks a zebra, damn.” After that I kept seeing zebras. I learned a lot from actually being around them in the video. They’re dangerous: they’ll fuck you up.
GIBBS: I probably have one of the highest liquor tolerances that you ever did see in life. I’m mainly a tequila guy. I’m into wine now because I’ve been hanging around Madlib a little bit more.
MADLIB: I used to drink straight Hennessy, but I started drinking wine and champagne. It’s easier to tour like that. I like white wine, Riesling.
GIBBS: Yeah, Riesling—that’s my favorite. If that’s his favorite, then mine too.
MADLIB: I got rid of it and life’s a little easier. It was getting me into too much trouble, you know. I was working and getting fifty calls a day.
GIBBS: Cellphones are a gift and a curse. They’ve ruined a lot of relationships for me. [Laughs.] Everything is done through the phone. I commend Otis [Madlib’s real name] for just disconnecting from that shit totally, and being in his own world. To be able to do that is amazing. Next year, I might go phone-less.
MAT FERRARO: We need your Instagram stories!
GIBBS: Yeah, all right, okay, okay. I’m staying.
THE PERFECT SANDWICH
GIBBS: Turkey, swiss cheese, some lettuce, tomato, and mayo. Real light, I don’t like a whole bunch of shit on my sandwich. Maybe it sounds plain but it’s good as fuck.
MADLIB: Go online and look up Meyhem Lauren on YouTube, he’s a cook and rapper. He made the best sandwich I’ve ever seen. I’m about to try to make that this week.
GIBBS: That’s some Avengers type shit. I just think of Thanos. I ain’t going in with Thanos somewhere in that motherfucker. The only way I go to space is if they give me 10 million dollars just to go up, one time. I like being on the ground. I don’t even like flying. When I get on a plane, I go to sleep, and just act like it’s not even happening.