Freddie Gibbs – “Flat Tummy Tea” (produced by Madlib)
Released: 20 February 2019
He mostly showed Malcolm on coke and white whores/
Did the shit so he can get funding up from them white boys/“
“Flat Tummy Tea” is densely-packed both lyrically and production-wise, despite what appears to be a basic, propagandous track title. Staunchly anti-establishment, socio-political, self-aware and pro-Black, it’s great to hear Gibbs in this form & head-space.
On the anti-establishment & socio-political side, Freddie Gibbs denounces America the country as simply a corporation (company) by expressing his disgust for the country’s pillaging of Africa. In the second half of the song, Gibbs returns to this topic, citing his disgust for slave movies that serve as a constant reminder to the community:
“Slave movies every year, yeah the Master gon remind us.”
Gibbs also questions Congress under Obama for not passing retroactive sentencing for non-violent drug offenders (with Marijuana now becoming a legal billion dollar industry).
On the pro-Black tip, Gibbs performs multiple gestures: first, nodding to buried African pharaohs by spitting “Gold body, my jeweler, he Black mummy me/ I be all in these bitches stomachs like Flat Tummy Tea/“. Continuing this unapologetically Black theme, Gibbs takes shots at the image of White Jesus, and challenges his community for owning expensive Retro Nikes yet not owning land or fine art (which appreciate in value). Gibbs even has smoke for Spike Lee, for Spike’s portrayal of Malcolm X as a White-woman loving cokehead in the 1992 Spike Lee-directed Malcolm X film. There’s even a nod to the 5% Nation, as Gibbs references “Supreme Mathematics“.
Madlib production + Gibbs chemistry
Flat Tummy Tea begins with an erratic, almost panicky beat with equally grimey lyrics. Gibbs opens the verse with a bit of shock value, “I beat the pot like Joseph beat Mike and Jermaine” before pulling you into his tirade, a reference to the alleged abusive Jackson 5 parent-child relationship. About 1:20 into the song, the beat hastily switches into smooth, laid-back production with just a choppy, almost in-audbile vocal sample serving as the transition (a staple in Madlib’s style). But despite the change in production from chaotic to calm, Gibbs’ lyrical, socio-political ferocity doesn’t let up. On the second beat, he spits that he “Took the sword and knocked White Jesus off of that white horse” three times in repetition for added effect, almost as if it were the song’s chorus.
On “Flat Tummy Tea” Gibbs pulls strength not only from ethnic pride, but also from his come-up in the Rap game, spitting “Without a co-sign, you’d probably be filling my grocery bags, nigga!“. It’s great to hear braggadocio rap in 2019 that doesn’t reference material items or sexual exploits (ala “fucking yo bitch”).
★★★★1/2: With Freddie Gibbs and Madlib poised to drop the BANDANA LP at any moment, their creative chemistry feels to be at an all time high. I can’t wait to hear how this will sound in sequence of the album (if this is on the album).
★★★★★: Best in show; pinnacle release from an all-time great artist.
★★★★1/2: Stellar example of genre; peak potential.
★★★★: Excellent; recommended to all fans of artist or genre.
★★★1/2: Very good; a few bland songs or minor flaws throughout.
★★★: Good; fans of the artist will find value here.
★★1/2: Average; does little to establish the artist or maintain quality.
★★: Unexceptional; a few highlights but otherwise bland.
★1/2: Weak; unrecommended for anyone but major fans of the style and/or artist.
★: Seriously flawed; very poor work but relatively listenable.
1/2: Terrible; a true embarrassment and akin to audio masochism.