Out of this current generation of new rappers, Freddie Gibbs takes the title in the ‘most likely to succeed’ category. Similar to Joey Bada$$ and Kendrick Lamar, there’s something anachronistic, about him, emphasizing raw spitting and an unapologetic gangsta lean that is unique to him. While the other two emcees mentioned have presumably taken their cues from the likes of Posdnous and Ras Kass, Gibbs makes music in the vein of Scarface and Pac. The Gary, IN representative’s career has been a slow burn of fire material that–while it didn’t grant him Jay Electronica type hype–has kept his name in the conversation as a legitimate problem for the industry. His new mixtape Baby Faced Killa comes on the heels of a dope collaboration EP with Madlib and it’s probably more representative of what his creative direction is going to be after signing with Young Jeezy’s CTE label.
While BFK is heavy on the features, all the guest stars are on Freddie’s wavelength. Gibbs gets verses from ‘old’ heads like Z-Ro, Jadakiss, Krayzie Bone, and his boss, Jeezy, effectively paying homage to their contributions to hip-hop’s hood narative. Gibbs also reaches out to contemporaries such as Dom Kennedy, SpaceGhostPurrp, and Curren$y–and his ability to work successfully with cats from different generations reveals his intention to make music that 80s and 90s babies can claim as their own. The production on BFK runs the gamut over 18 tracks, and Freddie Gibbs drops bars over a seemingly equal amount of trap beats, bass heavy boom bap, and Dungeon Family-influenced speaker blowers.
Jeezy’s signee hits the ground running with the album’s eponymous track “BFK”, Gibbs spiting with a melifluous, relaxed to the point of near-exhaustion double time flow, riding the trunk-rattler provided by M-80 like a stoned skater going downhill. “Money, Clothes, Hoes” and “The Hard” are both produced by Feb.9, and one track is exhibit A for why gangsta rap is an endangered species and the other is a beautiful romanticization of the day to day life of a man who makes his living by hand-to-hands. “MCH” is pretty mindless background music. Everything about the song is generic is hell, Gibbs at times singing more than rapping about–what else–apparel, pussy, and currency, over a beat more forgettable than your last New Year’s hook up. Then again, given his intentions, maybe this song is fine the way it is-you’d be hard pressed to find a street album by anybody without at least one song like this. “The Hard” sounds like something Big Boi and 3 Stacks would rap over, pensive sprightly keys and multilayered guerrilla funk married to angelic vocals by Dana Williams. Freddie Gibbs takes you on a ride on the day to day grind of your neighborhood dopeman or corner boy that makes an occupation that came to prominence under Reagan sound like a cool thing to do.
“Tell A Friend” featuring Curren$y is a monsterous banger produced by DJ Izzo and Matterafact, and it should be a frontrunner for the fall anthem of 2012. The beat incorporates a line from Hov’s “So Ghetto” brilliantly, throwing it on top of an aggressive bassline and a nostalgic keyboard melody. Gibbs and his cohort drop equally brilliant verses about the good, the bad, and everything in between about the life they’ve led. Young Jeezy makes two appearances on BFK; “Go For it” and “Seventeen,” and his presence serves as encouragement for Freddie to go full retard, in the good way. Gibbs isn’t trying to wow you with his metaphors or wordplay, and in fact, on BFK as a whole, the only thing he’s trying to do is say some cool shit and say it cool as shit.
For what it is, BFK is a welcome change of pace. This is a man who’s committed to making the kind of music that he himself would like to hear, regardless of what’s popular at the moment, and that’s a commendable achievement. Jeezy’s made a sound investment by signing this cat because this type of realness will always have a loyal audience.