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Piñata is the 17 track long collaborative effort by two of hip-hop's most critically revered talents, straight talking Pac-meets-DMX rapper Freddie Gibbs and Stones Throw Records' MVP Madlib. Having explored every inch of it, I can tell you that it sounds exactly like a 17 track long collaborative effort by Freddie Gibbs and Madlib.

In the works since 2009 it's unsurprising that several of the standout tracks have already been released as singles. 'Shame', 'Thuggin' and 'Deeper' all had internet squatting hip-hop "purists" locking their doors and reaching for the tissues as they envisioned a sort of gun-toting drug smuggling recreation of Madvillainy.

Probably for good reason too, because if the whole LP was as lyrically creative as 'Deeper' (think Common's 'I Used to Love H.E.R.') or featured such exceptionally sampled Motown cuts as in 'Shame', then it would be a pretty unique ride. The longevity of the album lets it down a little, as do the sometimes torturously repetitive loops such as in title track 'Piñata', which when clocking in at almost six minutes would force you to give up false information at Guantanamo. Overall however, it's a real hip-hop head's album exhibiting the unparalleled technical ability and addictive gravelly baritone we've come to expect from Gibbs, over beats which allow him switch up his flow, making it seem box-fresh despite 10 years on the scene.

After a short political commentary we start off in familiar territory to both artists; Madlib's signature muddy drum-fills and sirens flare in the background while Gibbs politely explains how he'll duct-tape up your whole family and that "if you're gonna kill a mofucka' do it right - point blank." It foreshadows a running theme throughout the record since you're never sure if the horror stories are threats, diary entries or metaphors; an enticing method of keeping the listener on their toes. On 'Deeper' for example you can relate to his grating observations of modern rap music, but tune-out for a second and he's busy not giving a single solitary fuck that he might do life in jail for kidnap, over the guns blazing Grime beat on 'Shittsville'. It's a standout track which wouldn't sound out of place littered with Westwood's klaxons or D Double's 'Bluku Bluku', but the beauty is that you believe every word he says and begin to enter the mind of his stoic gangster complex.

As the LP progresses it's clear that the better moments are shared solely between 'lib and Gibbs, since some of the features are sadly uninspiring. 'High' sees half-man-half-parrot Danny Brown squawk beyond comprehension about hitting blunts, whilst Domo Genesis proclaims to be a diamond in the rough while sounding like bird-shit on the windscreen of 'Robes'. The real delicacies in the album are tracks like 'Bomb' and 'Uno', where beats are ostensibly retrieved from Mars via Sendspace by one of Madlib's alter-egos. They're true head boppers smothered in Freddie's flawless timing, an irresistible combination, and when Raekwon pops up he manages to deliver one of the only features worthy of Piñata.

Into the later stages it can become grating that some of the samples aren't given the breathing space they deserve and Gibbs' subject matter begins to tire, throwing out clichés like "graduating with honours from hip-hop college." Also, like 90% of LPs in the genre it would benefit from some tactful reduction - by the end you're so itching for it to finish that you forget how enjoyable the vast majority has been.

When Piñata's 61 minutes is up it instantly feels like you've heard it 61 times. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, it's more of a realisation that you knew what was coming and you enjoyed it. Madlib has provided the OST to another parable of Gibbs' incessant druggin' and thuggin' - albeit pushing him out of his comfort zone- but never stretching past the boundaries of what either are already known to be capable of.