$oul $old $eperately marks the return of Big Bunny Rabbit AKA Freddie Gibbs. The deluxe album features many of the singles he teased us with throughout the year. The storytelling on the album is marvellous, from the skits to the voice recordings, to the hotel answerphone messages. Both the features and producers help to contribute to this work of art.
Production-wise, every track is stellar. The Alchemist provides jazz ambience laced with glory and opulence on 'Blackest in the Room'. Kaytranada makes an appearance on 'Zipper Bags', and while it's different from the upbeat house music he makes, the collision of two worlds makes for a perfect pairing. Madlib's production on 'CIA' full of sax and soft drums blends into the album, helping maintain the lap of luxury.
The production on the album is samples galore. The opening track, 'Couldn't Be Done' pitches up the vocals of Norman Feels' 'They Said It Couldn't Be Done' over triumphant, glorious production and also gets it's 'Blackness!' adlib from Little Brother's 'Goodmorning Sunshine'. Michel Ripoche's 'Mirage' lends it's jazzy violins to help Freddie and The Alchemist emulate the hotel vibe of the album on Blackest in the Room. 'Pain & Strife' gets it's chorus from Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and 'Easy E's Foe Tha Love of $'. The base of 'Zipper Bags' comes from a loop of Hareton Salvanini's 'Viver' and if you listen closely enough you can also hear a layer of vocals from Three 6 Mafia's 'Sippin' on Some Syrup' featuring Project Pat & UGK. Too Much sees All This Love by DeBarge flipped a little, the tiniest bit sped up with some kick drums. The smooth jazz souds of Gene Harris' Summer (The First Time) runs through the veins of Lobster Omlette helping give it more of a luxurious feel which is elevated by that Rick Ross feature. Space Rabbit samples the Atari arcade game Cetipede, the sound effects sort of sounding like a fast telephone dial. Meanwhile it borrows it's drums from And That's Saying A Lot by Christine Perfect. Another more prevalent Three 6 Mafia sample, this time of Pimpin' & Robbin' on PYS, it chops and loops some of the vocals and the title is taken from the lyrics so you're always bound to hear the sample like adlibs. Gold Rings borrows some bars from Me & My Bitch by The Notorious B.I.G, while the tranquil harp comes from Dorothy Ashby's My Favourite Things, and the knocking sound is definitely identical to the one on Erykah Badu's On & On. Grandma's Stove has vocals from Sonder's Care immersed into the beat and lyrics from Tupac's Lord Knows are also sampled in Freddie's verse. CIA's sax heavy beat comes from The Rucker Collective's Lessons Learnt. Moving on to the deluxe tracks, 'Big Boss Rabbit' is introduced through the dialogue of Mike Tyson's post fight interview after his fight with Frank Bruno. Meanwhile the foundation of the beat, made up primarily of violins, is taken from Nas' 'You're da Man' and the producer, Swaggyono, has sped up the drum loop. 'Ice Cream' featuring Rick Ross, Kenny Beats flipped the beat and gave it more of a menacing energy.
Kelly Price's vocals on 'Couldn't Be Done' give it a real soulful, passionate element that helps contribute to the triumph running through the song. Offset's autotuned and adlibbed feature rings true to Migos' essence and fits perfectly with that Bone Thugs-N-Harmony interpolation on the hook. Moneybagg Yo's Memphis trap cadence seeps through 'Too Much', complimented by the kick drums. Rick Ross makes two appearances on the album, his "Mayback Music" tag and tone of voice help to elevate the luxurious feel of the album on 'Lobster Omlette' and 'Ice Cream'. Anderson .Paak's feature on 'Feel No Pain' is a huge highlight of the album, his vocals and cadence in his rap verse give it an almost pimp like feel, Raekwon's verse really helps to provide the grandeur with lines like "See the minks in my chain with drips". DJ Paul also does this on 'PYS', featuring bars like "I'm a pimp, I'm a mack, lookin' for the dollas / Need Trues and Vogues help me pull these models". 'Gold Rings' is a collaboration from Pusha T and Freddie Gibbs, it just makes sense to put two kings of coke rap on a track together and their cadences compliment eachother perfectly. Musiq Soulchild's R&B vocals slide on Grandma's Stove and really match the emotions that Freddie's discussing on the track. The grit of Scarface's verse on 'Decoded' juxtaposes nicely with the synth running throughout the song. The back and fourth between Big Sean and Freddie on '4 Thangs' feels like a swinging pendulum like the beat bounces that rocks back and fourth, courtesy of HitBoy. Schoolboy Q's feature on 'Gang Signs' gives that West Coast summery feeling accompanied by this mellow beat switch that provides the song with a little more dimension. Lastly, 'Black Illuminati' features raspy rhymes from rap legend Jadakiss.
Switching between fast flows on tracks like 'Couldn't Be Done' and 'Space Rabbit' to cadence that edges on mumble rap the choruses on 'Pain & Strife' and 'Too Much' helps him display is range like antiques in glass cabinet. 'Grandma's Stove' is parallel to Eminem's Mockingbird in that Gibbs opens up about his family, particularly his journey with his children and the tender emotions he raps with feel like it's in the same vein as Eminem's heartfelt outpour.
Freddie never had anything to prove after his previous releases, but he has elevated his discography up a notch. $oul $old $eparately is full of coke rap cadence at a premium price, enough samples to weigh a kilo and the perfect blend of jazz and hiphop.
Review by the stellar Kat Friar