Release Date: Aug 3, 2010
Record label: DECON
Genre(s): Rap, Gangsta Rap, Hardcore Rap, Midwest Rap
Expect people to talk about Freddie Gibbs a little bit more. Expect people to use terms like “hottest,” “truest” and “best” when describing his flow and the way it flits between syncopated double-time and lean, low menace. Expect talk of his crossover potential, the way he weds a mighty, funny, fresher-than-hell stage presence to the tried-and-true gangsta tropes of stunts and blunts.
At this point, criticizing Freddie Gibbs is a fairly difficult proposition. It usually comes down to one of three things: I’ve heard you say this before. This beat is mediocre. Or your guest is lame. Because when it comes to Gibbs himself, he’s reached a point where every bar he spits is ….
On Twitter, Freddie Gibbs has complained a couple of times about other rappers biting his style. But it's tough to imagine who he's talking about, or what a Freddie Gibbs style bite would even sound like. Gibbs isn't a stylistic trailblazer; he's a synthesist. He sounds like a lab-created hybrid of every person who was making gangsta rap in about 1995.
The great irony of Freddie Gibbs’ widening underground fame is that 15 years ago, he would have been looked at as just another regional response to the gritty street journalism of Tupac, Nas, Jay-Z and many others. But now, grimy, no-hook-having chronicles of passing Spam hand-to-hand get you dropped from major labels and left to work the mixtape circuit. Gibbs’ backstory is especially egregious, since he was shuffled out of Interscope when the label decided to throw its lot in with emo-fied rappers who have since imploded (Charles Hamilton) or just plain stink (Shwayze).
Gangsta rap’s great Midwest hope, Freddie Gibbs destroyed the mixtape scene with releases like The Miseducation of Freddie Gibbs and The Labels Tryin’ to Kill Me, the latter’s title being typical of his attitude toward the traditional music business. Since he earned his fanatical following through untraditional channels like the underground circuit and the Internet, it shouldn’t be a surprise that his first aboveground release is not a grand entrance but more a taster for what the bootleg-wary standard CD buyer has been missing. There are only eight cuts here, six of which can be found on the underground album Str8 Killa, which in sabotage style was released only days before this EP.
With a flow somewhere between Tupac and Pimp C and a story that's straight gangsta, Freddie Gibbs would have fitted right in to hip-hop 15 years ago. Nowadays, though, he's just the latest rapper to have burnished his reputation thanks to judicious deployment of the online mixtape, last year's releases earning him praise for both his rhymes and his realism. A native of Gary, Indiana ("Ain't been a nigger bigger since the Jacksons left this city"), Gibbs is a player trying to escape the game.
Freddie Gibbs Last year this gangsta-rap classicist from Gary, Ind., made two attention-getting mixtapes, stocking them partly with tracks from his ill-fated affiliation with a major label. The output, combined with the back story, stirred anticipation for his first commercial product, “Str8 Killa” (Decon/ Gibbs Family), an EP that confirms his core proficiency while letting some of the air out of his notoriety. Freddie Gibbs is a technically solid but workmanlike rapper with a checklist of street obsessions: his mordant toughness (“The Coldest”), his beleaguered conscience (“Live by the Game”), his marijuana habit (“Personal OG”).