Freddie Gibbs – ESGN – Evil Seed Grow Naturally album review

In a modern day hip hop climate where a singing, former child star is one of the game’s premier pop stars, one of its enduring icons holds a higher priority to announcing his ties with corporate America than creating music and it’s most famous provocateur flaunts his permanent ties to a tabloid Hollywood family and European fashion houses,  hip hop’s grit has long been scrubbed into a shiny, platinum sheen.

So, since hip hop’s collective 9mm now officially goes “pop”, where does that leave someone who does that leave those who want their rap served with that gangsta touch?

Enter Freddie Gibbs.

A native of Gary, IN (a city famous for being both the home of Jackson family and one of the most deadly cities in the nation) with a rollicking, blunted rasp of a voice and often tongue-tied or sing-song-y flow and a remorseless nihilistic viewpoint, Gibbs—a major label refugee after brief stints on both Interscope and Young Jeezy’s Corporate Thugs Entertainment imprint—is an iconoclast in today’s rap game. He’s a grimy street traditionalist in an industry that currently rewards those who move as far away from the street aesthetic as far as they can.

The 75-minute ESGN, Gibbs’ fourteenth release but first officially retail long-player, provides a cohesive picture of Gibbs’ musical pallete.

The production—mostly handled by Gibbs’ group of in-house producers– on ESGN is fairly varied. Cold, synthetic trap beats and warm, soulful grooves both colors Gibbs’ gangsta tales. While the steely synths and skittering 808s that dominate the album’s first half make for a perfect match for the gray subject matter,  it’s trumped by the more melodic, smooth soul-orientated vibe that dominates its final third (executed best on “Dope in My Styrofoam”—with its lush sample of Tyrone Davis’ oft-sampled “In The Mood” and single-worthy “9mm”).

While Gibbs is unapologetically thuggish and headstrong in his mission to modernize the classic gangsta sound, he’s not exactly one-dimensional. The sense of reflection and near-regret displayed on the atmospheric “I Seen a Man Die” and devotion to carrying the torch for his troubled hometown provides a necessary balance to the defiantly nihilism that frames most of the album.

Although at 19 tracks and 75 minutes, it runs a tad longer than it has to, ESGN, to paraphrase George Clinton, is a gangsta ham hock in mainstream hip hop’s glittery (and increasingly) soggy corn flakes.


Freddie Gibbs & Statik Selektah Lord Giveth, Lord Taketh Away album review

Freddie Gibbs’ road is layered with evocative imagery; when he delivers, he delivers. His does not hold anything back, and his tough guy attitude never falters, contributing to the dark themes that are commonplace in the world of gangsta-rap. In his latest EP, Lord Giveth, Lord Taketh Away, Freddie Gibbs continues on with his street-smart bravado, teaming up with producer Statik Selektah, and a list of guest appearances, to create a 19 minute mix of ’70s music influenced production, hyper-technical rhymes from Gibbs and contributing bars from an eclectic roster of guests.

From beginning to end, this album does not indicate it was made in a day (which it was); Statik Selektah obviously takes his production seriously, as every beat and every note are synchronized perfectly, allowing Gibbs’ malleable flow to just smoothly go through well-chosen samples. Heavy organs start things off in, “Lord Giveth Lord Taketh Away,” where Gibbs showcases his ability to transition from rapid-fire, to staccato-driven rhymes, in a matter of seconds.

“Rap Money,” features Dogg Pound member, Daz Dillinger, who compliments Gibbs’ style with his similar, baritone-like delivery. “Affiliated,” is an onslaught of just raw, unrestrained delivery from Gibbs, and guests Reks & Push! Montana. “For real MCs to kill the likes of Lil Bs,” angrily proclaims Reks. Yikes.

Fred The Godson and Termanology shine on, “Wild Style.” The title is fitting for the the deliveries, especially Termanology’s; “I’ll put the grenade in your mouth, and blow your life apart,” rhymes Termanology, his machine gun flow almost as deadly as the images he creates with them.

“Keep It Warm For Ya,” is somewhat humorous in a way; Gibbs, along with Smoke DZA and Chace Infinite, rhyme about their sexual prowess, and how it keeps the ladies coming back for more. “Fix me mac and cheese, you know I’m a fat n***a,” states Smoke DZA, his clever wordplay also hilarious, considering the moody atmosphere Selektah creates on this track.

Lord Giveth, Lord Taketh Away is a solid release, and although it may not be near his strongest release, Gibbs proves that, even in a day, he can create something that looks completely effortless and flawless, proving that he is one of the most solid rappers in the game right now.


DJ Kayslay – Streetsweepers Radio Freestyle video with Jay Rock, Freddie Gibbs, Pill, Kendrick Lamar & Armeretta

DJ Kayslay – Streetsweepers Radio Freestyle video with Jay Rock, Freddie Gibbs, Pill, Kendrick Lamar & Armeretta

Shout out to The Best Of Both Offices.