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Report: Freddie Gibbs & Madlib in Berlin

Freddie Gibbs, Madlib — August 27, 2012 | Comments (4)

Egon’s second report from Madlib Medicine Show 2012 Europe Tour Five days between Czech Republic and Poland … Rappers and Krautrockers … vino & espionage … city zoos and Odd Futures … dead dog on floor with records …

It’s inevitable that five days off – even if they’re in “swinging” Berlin (or whatever adjective you wish to describe Europe’s new center for Americans to visit in hopes of the way things were in some bygone era) – aren’t going to pack the punch of an in-and-out-of-the-city show, but these five were especially weird. I start with the train we boarded in Prague – after again visiting a McDonalds and, myself, again restraining myself from eating some Eastern European Mc-whatever) – it was something out of Murder On The Orient Express and was certainly not the whimsical vision of such an archaic carriage as Wes Anderson imagined in The Darjeeling Limited. Note to anyone who’s expecting to save a few bucks on train travel that on a carrier that originates in Budapest: “comfort class” is about as acceptable as it gets. I so felt for the folks piled amongst each other in whatever they were calling “economy” – it made me imagine my father’s relayed memories of childhood train journeys in Kerala-state in India. At least the Czech porter in the dining car was relatively cold.

We arrived in Berlin in the midst of a heat wave: at 6 pm it was pushing 95F and sticky. We checked into our hotel on Warschauerstrasse – one of those trying-to-be-trendy-refurbished-warehouse or whatever – and Madlib and I both found ourselves fiddling with our rooms’ buttons and knobs that didn’t have any seeming purpose before we both found out the reason: nearly every hotel in Berlin (believe me, I checked) doesn’t have air conditioning. I went to apologize to Gibbs – he was on Skype with his manager Lambo and was sitting, shirtless, next to a fan. “It’s ok, man, we’ll make it work.” Damn, did I feel silly for expecting some new American standard of comfort a block away from the Berlin Wall in what used to be East Germany. Madlib and I were lucky enough to meet up with Whitefield Brother Max, whose studio was down the street from our hotel. One could do worse than spending a sweltering Berlin evening in a funky outdoor caf

Report: Freddie Gibbs & Madlib in Czech Republic

Freddie Gibbs, Madlib — August 18, 2012 | Comments (10)

Egon’s first report from Madlib Medicine Show 2012 Europe Tour … The show almost didn’t happen: Freddie’s on the plane, Madlib and I are attempting to talk our way onto the flight as the Lufthansa gate agents reject his passport as an “invalid travel document” when they won’t scan. Fair enough – he had washed it in a pair of jeans. But a pricey mistake – I’m just glad I always book the first flight with an extra day’s cushion. And also glad that we have a good relationship with a passport expediting agency located – of course – close to LAX. They held the office open until we arrived and assured us they would do their best, but it would be a miracle if we could fly the next day.

A rather sleepless night later (more so due to copious amounts of wine consumed at an impromptu dinner at Jeff Jank’s house than nerves), and I awoke at 7 am to hear that things were looking up at the Federal Building. We’d know by 3 pm.

3.30 pm and we were on our way back to LAX with news that the passport had arrived. Too bad that when we arrived we found that our flight had been delayed and we’d miss our connection to Prauge – and, thus, our slot at the festival. Freddie had already arrived.

As I’m thinking of how to call J.Rocc and what I would say to him to step up and DJ in Madlib’s stead, the gate agent suggested that if we flew via Munich we could arrive in Prague a bit after 8 pm. If we cleared customs quickly, we might make it in time for the 10.30 pm set time. Hip Hop Kemp is located in a small city about an hour and a half into the Czech countryside.

We took our chances, boarded the flight and, sixteen hours later, were picked up outside of the airport by, of all people, the head of IT at the airport – and an amateur race car driver. We loaded into his customized BMW M5. He switched on the active seat restraints in the front (and apologized to Madlib, in the back) and asked if we were scared of speed. No, of course not.

Then he proceeded to average 200 KMH through the narrow freeways, only stopping when a recently killed, six foot long wild boar’s corpse caused a minor traffic jam. “What would happen if we hit one of those things going this fast” I asked, as he accelerated? “Oh don’t worry, I normally only see those things in the forest.”

Uh, what about the one we just saw splayed out on the motorway? Madlib’s prog-rock mix CD – phasing in and out as the car’s nav system offered nearly-missed instructions – made the journey even scarier.

But, arrive we did. We headed straight on stage and line checked, and then, there they were: Madlib and Freddie doing what they do best, the former keeping it psychedelic, the latter rapping his ass off in front of what must have been 10,000 folks. Smoke machines going off. Freddie leading many who had no idea what he was saying in a chant of “fuck police” as Czech officers stood at the gates. “Shame” went over particularly well. J.Rocc filmed the proceedings and nodded in approval.

Later in the eve, on the way back to the hotel, we debated Lord Finesse’s lawsuit against Mac Miller with Diamond D and Freddie and Madlib wondered why Czech McDonalds don’t sell Chicken McNuggets but do sell McChicken sandwiches. Myself, I was glad I grabbed a couple bananas from the green room and still had one Europane cookie left over from my flight.

Next: Part 2 – Five Days in Berlin