My bad. Three months ago, Smoking Section don, John Gotty sent out an e-mail requesting that I listen to Freddie Gibbs, a Gary, Indiana-raised, Interscope Records refugee with co-signs from Devin the Dude and Just Blaze. For reasons best blamed on scatterbrains and Internet fatigue, I never got around to The Miseducation of Freddie Gibbs, an excellent collection of jettisoned major label tracks,  freestyles, and stone-cold street raps.

Last week, Gibbs released his follow-up, Midwestgangstaboxframecadillacmuzik, an album that takes its title from Outkast, but its inspiration from the asphalt. Beyond prodigious rapping ability, a penchant for writing catchy hooks, and a great ear for beats, Gibbs’ lyrical acumen distinguishes himself from the crack-packing masses. No recycled cliches, no paper-thin narratives, just Gibbs navigating the gauntlet of Gary to craft tracks with tape-popping re-playability. Think of him as the missing link between Midwestern speed rap and trunk-rattling Houston ride music–if you like Bone Thugs, UGK, Z-Ro, and Trae, Gibbs will probably be your new favorite rapper.

The curse of hip-hop circa 2009 is that a rapper as good as this has no place in the major label galaxy. The gift is that fans can get mixtapes like Midwestgangstaboxframe-cadillacmuzik, free of commercial compromise, A&R tampering, or shamelessly cloying club tunes. If it isn’t the best tape of the year, it’s terribly close. Bereft of big name guest-stars other than Devin Copeland singing the hook on “Sumthin U Should Know”and Pill crushing “Womb 2 The Tomb,” Gibbs does the majority of the lifting. Which isn’t a problem, not only is he a heavyweight, he’s already a contender.

MP3: Freddie Gibbs-“Iodine Poison”
MP3: Freddie Gibbs ft. Pil-“Womb 2 The Tomb”

ZIP: Freddie Gibbs-“Midwestgangstaboxframecadillacmuzik”
ZIP: Freddie Gibbs-“The Miseducation of Freddie Gibbs”