When Madlib and Freddie Gibbs turn up for a Tiny Desk Concert, the setup is a lot more complex than you might think. That’s because, according to NPR, Madlib insisted that the duo needed to play with a vintage New York-based funk and soul ensemble called El Michels Affair rather than simply setting up an MPC or hiring a few day players.
The additional effort turned out to be well worth it, as the band not only boosts the live quality of Madlib’s jazz-inflected, off-kilter jazz and soul loops from Bandana, they embellish and improvise throughout the set, bringing an unpredictable and joyous approach to Freddie’s frankly astonishing displays of slippery lyricism and jaw-dropping breath control. As Freddie himself jokes midway through the set, “It seem like a fun job, but it’s very hard. The degree of difficulty of this sh*t is very high.”
You might not know it to watch Freddie zone out as he delivers his jam-packed bars with easy grace and gruff-voiced swagger, bobbing his head with his eyes closed for much of the set, but never losing a bit of his reserved but vibrant energy. The set, which includes hard hitters “Education,” “Gat Damn,” and “Soul Right,” concludes with “Freestyle Sh*t” and a display of sincere affection for Madlib by Freddie, who douses his musical partner in compliments and a great big bear hug.
Check out the Freddie Gibbs And Madlib Tiny Desk Concert above and their collected videos from Bandana here.