Album Review: You Only Live 2wice by Freddie Gibbs
Great, Based on 6 Critics
Exclaim - 80 Based on rating 8/10
Freddie Gibbs' continued success both in and outside of rap was derailed in June of 2016, following his arrest and detainment in Europe on grounds of year-old allegations of sexual assault. Gibbs was acquitted of all charges last fall and returned to his young family, reflecting on "How in one summer one n*gga could lose it all" with You Only Live 2wice.
The most revealing look at Gibbs' incarceration comes over the plaintive violin of "Crushed Glass," on which he finds himself "sittin' in a cell missin' show dates," barely eating or bathing, having visiting hours with his fiancé though he "can't wipe her tears from behind the glass.
In a field where one's cool factor is primarily defined by smoke and mirrors along with the ability to induce listeners into an energetic trance, Freddie Gibbs represents what's become a rare intersection of believable street credibility and quality penmanship. A student of hard laced legends such as UGK and Scarface, surviving the destitute conditions of Gary, Indiana (just outside of Chicago's warlike borders) has given him every right to detail what was once a personal hell with an aggressively reckless abandon. Making it out of hard living where others have easily succumbed, Gibbs' main themes have included dodging the system's traps and scandalous floozies, with life imitating art last year as he was acquitted after being accused of international sexual indiscretions.
There's sounding like you've triumphed, there's sounding like you've struggled, and then there's sounding like you've just survived. The well-worn voice of Freddie Gibbs has typically resided in the space between the first and second category like an audio imprint on whatever path he rolls through. But as Gibbs approaches his mid-30s, he's still reeling from the after-effects of two life-changing events: the 2014 shooting in Brooklyn that wounded two members of his entourage, and the sexual assault charge that hung over him for much of 2016.
In the summer of 2015, Freddie Gibbs was in a much different place. We met up in Helsinki nine months after our last interview and a lot had changed. During his first visit to Finland's cobblestone capital, his fiancé Erica Dickerson was extremely pregnant and accompanied the Indiana rapper on his Lord Fredrick European headline tour like a jet-setting superwoman.
For Freddie Gibbs, the November election wasn't the low point of 2016. In June of that year, he was arrested in France, then extradited to Austria and charged with rape with a potential 10 year prison sentence. Though he was found not guilty in September, it was a Pyrrhic victory. His months in foreign jails had come at the expense of his European tour, his reputation, his family and, necessarily, his freedom.
For many hip-hop classicists living in a world filled with mumble rap and colorful dreadlocks, Freddie Gibbs has steadily become their guardian angel. The 34-year-old Gary, Ind. native has risen to a tremendously high level of underground acclaim because of his continuous efforts in delivering projects with robust beats, compelling lyrics and that distinctly evocative snarl; basically everything that is reminiscent of the golden era.