Like Guess Who, beer pong, and spin the bottle, we've all played the dream collaboration game at least once in our lives; I love making up dream collabs in my head. When I listen to music, I'm always playing an A&R, thinking about which rapper would sound great on a particular beat or how a hook from a soulful lady would really complete the effort. It's really fun to get super creative, but sometimes, you don't even need ears to know a dope combination.
Case and point, Freddie Gibbs and BJ The Chicago Kid. The twosome have concocted multiple songs together, most recently on BJ's The M.A.F.E. Project, and each time I hear them on the same track I'm reminded that they make a fucking amazing duo. I always leave a BJ x Freddie cut thinking two things:
"Fuck that was awesome"
"Why don't they make an album?"
Seriously though, give me one good reason why the world wouldn't be a better place with this album in it. If you can I'll shut up...that's right you can't. I'll go on...
Part of the reason I want a collaboration project so bad is because I feel like it's so doable. That Kanye/Metallica collab? Probably not going to happen, but BJ and Freddie have a solid amount of songs together (each one dope in its own right), Gibbs is obviously down for collab projects, and they clearly have a great rapport. In fact, the more I think about it, the more convinced I become that this needs to happen.
Unless you're a horrible human being you already totally agree, but let's look back at their history anyway.
It's hard to believe this record was their first collab, they have such a palpable chemistry. When it's Freddie's part I'm thinking, "God damn this shit knocks," and when it's BJ up to bat I'm amazed at how soulful and smooth it is. How can a song get me so turnt up one second and then the next have me feeling all sorts of ways because it's so soulful? And yet there are no changes to the beat at all. It's remarkable. It's damn near impossible to tell whose song this is because both are so imperative to the overall end product. Truthfully, I didn't even know this record existed before I set out on this journey. I already had this article in mind before "The Coldest." This effort only adds to my already amazing thesis.
"Field Ni*#a Blues"
Here, both Freddie and BJ are guests of Mikkey Halsted. BJ only adds some supporting vocals and still, his soulful contribution cannot be overlooked. Not as collab-y as the others, but I couldn't just leave it out. More BJ, please. I've found out the more BJ the better.
"Barely M.A.D.E. It"
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I'll get to why in a minute, but it took me a long time to really get into Freddie's work. As badly as I wanted to love him, there was a while were I wasn't quite sold. Well, that ended when I heard this effort. "Barely M.A.D.E It" is what made me turn the corner on Gangster Gibbs. Something about having BJ round out the effort gives me that soul I need while still being able to appreciate Gibbs for crushing this beat. It's the perfect blend of soul and smash. I wish BJ had a little bit more input, but even when he is used in a supporting role he adds some essence to the song.
"Smokin' and Ridin':"
We all have those favorite songs that are so good, we sit in the car waiting for them to end long after we have arrived at our destination. This is one of those songs. Except instead of sitting in my real world car it's what ever car I stole in Grand Theft Auto. I'm a gamer, and a rap fan, so I always pay close attention to soundtracks, and when I saw Freddie and BJ had a collab on GTA V I damn near pooped my pants (not virtually). There is nothing like cruising around Los Santos running over hookers and shooting people to a little Freddie/BJ collab. In my opinion BJ is one of the best hook-men in the game. He has that throwback soul sound down, but still has the power to fire up a song about smoking and driving. It's not to often a soulful cut is the perfect soundtrack for outrunning the cops, but here, BJ is so powerful it really works.
Truthfully, I didn't spend enough time with Piñata, and it all goes back to that hesitancy I had with Freddie Gibbs that I touched on earlier. Anyway, now that I've gone back to Piñata (again, sorry, I'm working on it) this effort stood out to me. I feel like at this point I'm just beating a dead horse so I won't explain how or why this record is great. Also, I don't really need to. Here, perhaps more than any other example, the pair show an incredible chemistry. You wouldn't expect it, aside from their shared geography, but they really have an amazing connection.
If I am doing my math and research right, this is the first collab that is BJ featuring Gibbs and not the other way around. What's even more interesting is that this sounds more like a Gibbs record production wise. How undeniably cool is it that two artists who have musical styles on opposite ends of the spectrum can create such a cohesive sound? BJ can hop on a trap beat and not lose his balance and Gibbs can get soulful without losing his essence and authenticity. There is no gap, no lull. It's a fluid, dynamic sound that is so, so fresh.
I mentioned it on "M.A.D.E It" and "Shame," but I want to get into it again here. There was a while where I just couldn't get into Freddie's material. I wanted to like him so bad, but I am about the furthest thing from a gangsta, so it's hard for me to really connect with Gibbs' content. His flow is so strong and I respect him more than most emcees, but it's hard to for me to find that connection because the only 8 ball I've ever seen is one that tells me my fortune. Conversely, there ain't nothing like a quality soulful tune, but sometimes there just isn't enough punch in an R&B record for me. Essentially I'm the rap game Goldilocks; some porridge is too hot and some is too cold, but when they get together they are juuuuuust right. Gibbs provides the bite I need and BJ delivers with just the right vibe so that I can connect on a deeper level. Together they connect for the perfect song. An entire album of this combination would be absolutely incredible.
Will we get an album? Who knows? It's the album we need but don't deserve. Maybe one is in the works already and I'm blowing up there spot (fingers crossed). If not I'd happily make a human sacrifice to the rap gods in the name of the album.
[Lucas Garrison is a writer for DJBooth.net. His favorite album is “College Dropout,” but you can also tweet him your favorite Migos songs at @LucasDJBooth.]