Freddie Gibbs and Madlib offered up one of the best albums of 2019 when they delivered their second collaborative project, Bandana. They then proceeded to release the instrumental version titled Bandana Beats and an entire cinematic universe. Now the duo have reconnected with Leon Michels and the El Michels Affair — the same band that backed MadGibbs during their memorable NPR Tiny Desk performance last December — for The Diamond Mine Sessions.
The project is named after the legendary Queens, New York studio where the live session was recorded. Freddie and Otis partnered with Amazon Music to debut “Freestyle Shit,” “Gat Damn,” and “Palmolive,” each infused with undeniable soul and funk provided by the backing ensemble. El Michels Affair previously released a number of notable singles with Big Crown Records and partnered with Raekwon for a string of concerts ultimately leading to a full-length release of Wu-Tang Clan covers, Enter the 37th Chamber.
“Every time I come in Diamond Mine, I feel like Sammy Davis Jr. or some sh*t,” Gibbs said. “It’s just a real sense of power and authenticity that flows through me when I come in here and work with Leon [Michels], I can’t really explain it. I gotta be razor sharp but at the same time be loose and be me. It’s definitely a vibe.”
This is the first episode of the ongoing The Diamond Mine Sessions behind the scenes series presented via a partnership with Amazon Music. Gibbs and Madlib even hinted at more music to come in the near future. “We don’t think about it,” Madlib said of their process together. “Like everyone thinks we sit down and think about what we’re doing, but we just make the music and move on.”
A lot can be taken away from the four-minute clip. Freddie also revealed that his bond with Madlib is for life and that they plan on doing music together until they’re in their 90s. He revealed the impact that JAY-Z has had on his career and this new project in particular. “Doing this thing live, I can do different things with my voice and play around. My whole inspiration with this is JAY-Z Unplugged. That was the first time I had ever seen a rapper doing this sort of thing. Whenever I tap into this vibe I revert back to JAY-Z and in so many aspects of my career — period, I revert back to JAY-Z but definitely this one for sure.”
Watch the behind-the-scenes documentary above and listen to the three Bandana songs’ live renditions below. In more music news, DMX challenged JAY-Z to their own VERZUZ battle.