Release Date: Jun 20, 2013
Record label: N/A
Freddie Gibbs should be more famous than he is. He’s had label issues. He’s had distribution issues. He’s been signed and dropped and cosigned and ignored. But Gibbs’ real conundrum is that he’s uncompromising. He didn’t abate when teamed up with creative talent like Madlib. Gibbs.
Freddie Gibbs has a problem: he’s too good at his job. As a gangster rapper relentlessly opposed to mainstream kowtowing, Gibbs’ single-minded focus has forged this era’s undisputed lyrical thug champion. The issue is that Gibbs is acutely aware of this fact and can’t seem to figure out how to turn the faucet off when good ideas remain merely good ones, causing all of his projects to bloat from laser-cut bangers to slightly doughy menace factories.
“Shout out to Gangsta Gibbs, he the next to blow!” That was Young Jeezy’s proclamation upon signing Gary, Indiana’s prodigal G back in 2011. And that’s the audio clip playing incessantly in the background of Lil Sodi’s introductory words on ESGN, Freddie Gibbs’ first full-length project post-CTE. If anything, the voice of Gibbs’ former co-sign is an appropriate backdrop for ESGN, an album that serves as a re-declaration of independence for both himself and his newly founded label of the same name.
Freddie Gibbs has said that his new project ESGN is "the definitive Freddie Gibbs album," an uncompromising, unvarnished collection of the blacktop-hard gangster rap that vaulted him to a higher profile in the summer of 2009. Gibbs' desire to return to his most authentic sound springs from a less-than-amicable split from Young Jeezy’s CTE label in 2012, and he isn't necessarily mistaken. ESGN is more of the dark, violent, exceedingly skillful rap for which the rapper has become one of the last reliable sources.
What Freddie Gibbs has managed to do very well on ESGN is showcase his signature sound. Tales of Gary, IN. street life are peppered in an album of hard-hitting trap beats, making it clear that he hasn’t compromised his aesthetic in order to sell albums. While these speak on his strength and growth as an artist, what he hasn’t been able to do thus far is establish his character.