Gangsta Gibbs, hoe.

Just about a year passed since Gibbs’ last release, ‘You Only Live 2wice’, which came soon after his release from jail. This album chronicled his time away and the effects this false sexual assault accusation imposed on him and his career. Since then, we patiently awaited the next installment of his work with Madlib. Gibbs broke us off with some new work though; ‘Freddie’ dropped last Friday and we haven’t stopped playing it! The surprise release becomes more ubiquitous with each artist and creates a necessary change of pace. I believe it allows creation to flourish in a way that carries less pressure for the artist. Even so, Gibbs’ catalog can speak for itself as his consistency retains his core following and pulls in new fans. ‘Freddie’ maintains this pattern of superb beat selection, skillfully crafted lyrics and inventive visuals.

Freddie Pendergrass

A rule of thumb that we often hear is you have to know where you come from to know where you’re going. The album cover for ‘Freddie’ emulates that very statement. For the older souls and lovers of R&B out there, you’ve already made the connection and felt the wave of nostalgia wash over you. If you don’t fall into that category, don’t fret. Gibbs recreated the album cover of the legendary Teddy Pendergrass’s album ‘Teddy’. Pendergrass is responsible for some of the iconic love songs that possibly aided in your conception. His demeanor radiated cool, calm and collected and never failed to make the ladies swoon. Pendergrass’s career almost ended with a near fatal car cash that put his career on hold for a couple years. We can see the parallels between the two men as Gibbs maintains his diligence under any circumstances.  My favorite aspect of this album is the juxtaposition of the content with the visuals. Unsuspecting listeners may assume this album is about love or romance because of the allusion to Pendergrass.

Even with the promotion, Gibbs released a single infomercial. It mirrored those that ran late night selling the sounds of yesteryear for a low price of 15.99 plus tax. Yet when we press play, Gibbs’s baritone meets our ear with tales of slinging dope in Indiana over 808-heavy production. The ratio of feature artists to songs is perfect as there are only 10 tracks and three features. The album’s progression is solid as it starts off light, ironically, with “Weight”. The production snowballs into more intricate sounds with tracks like “Death Row” featuring 03 Greedo.

Riding with Freddie

“Death Row”, produced by Kenny Beats, samples “BoyZ-N-The-Hood” by the late Eazy-E. Bringing that nostalgia of gangsta rap from the 80s, Gibbs and Greedo depict the reality of death lingering around any corner. Whipping work carries a risk that isn’t for the faint of heart and takes mundane activities to a new level of intensity. On the other side of the coin, this track is an excellent reworking of 80’s West Coast gangsta rap as well as an ode to N.W.A.’s Eazy-E.

“Pick your phone up, I just touched down with the puppy chow / Puttin’ zones up, got a brick, I’m ’bout to bust it down, pick your phone up / Bet that rat ho wanna fuck me now, fuck me now” – Death Row

Greed and chasing women often get the most calculated pusher caught up but this isn’t the case for Gibbs and Greedo. This denotes the parallel of the suave demeanor of Teddy Pendergrass, Gibbs’s resolve doesn’t shake navigating through the unpredictability of his hustle. Although, this album is stacked with soul shaking bass and brazen details of street life, ‘Freddie’ possesses some smoother edges. Consider “2 Legit”. Producer RichGains assembled this beat sampling “My Life” by Mary J. Blige shifting the album to a more carefree mood. Gibbs keeps the same energy reveling in the good that occurs despite the misfortune that may find him.

“Ain’t no whippin’ what I’m chippin’, straight off the brick, yeah / Arm and Hammer with the chicken, I’m too legit, yeah” – 2 Legit

As sweet as life can be, Gibbs acknowledges the obstacles he faced to create his success. His storytelling capability is never too verbose while still constructing a concise visual in the mind of listeners. The rawness of his music shines through with every project he creates and he continues to out-do himself.