Song of The Year-Knicks by Freddie Gibbs produced by Madlib
When the full album collaboration between these two forces was announced some aspects of it were certain. The lyrics were going to be tough. Gibbs has a range of toughness that runs anywhere from Rambo going back in Vietnam to win it himself to Carlito Brigante narrating from a leather jacket about how the worlds changed while walking in the rain. The lyrics fall somewhere in between on their album Piñata with Madlib being the true wildcard. Instead of throwing the oddest collection of acid jazz and obscure funk samples behind Gibbs, Madlib makes everything feel dusty and soulful which serves well in amplifying the spotlight on Gibbs natural anger and fascinating flow (even if it does partially sedate the listening experience).
While Piñata is a true underground album that sneers at the very concept of “hits” or “stand alone singles” Knicks is my favorite sports song in years. It directly follows a song dedicated to the Lakers that’s joyously about their winning history, hot California girls and Magic Johnson owning the Dodgers. Once Lakers stops and Knicks begin the tone change is like stepping into a freezer. The sample sweetly calls and Freddie is watching Jordan carve up the Knicks (or later on watching Lebron do the same thing) within forty three seconds he’s shooting up someone’s home. He seethes with thoughts of revenge for dead friends. While the Lakers song is all celebratory, the Knicks song is all cold hard anger a perfect backdrop for the team with the biggest spotlight and the worst record at utilizing it. By the end of it he actually just starts laughing at the Knicks for all their losses in the Jordan era (Bulls fans old enough to remember Jordan are ALL like this. Terrible to be around like I would be if my sister became president and I did nothing but brag about it forever after. Great team, great fans…just saying…).
Piñata is a weird album. Not better than Gibbs scalding Man on Fire style Jeezy revenge album ESGN from last year but better and better with repeated listens. It’s an album you just need and a song like this is right at its beating pulse.