gibbs

Evan Nabavian is chilling in the Austrian alps.

Freddie Gibbs appeared content in an interview with Rap Radar in April 2016, which was a welcome sight because someone had tried to kill him two years earlier. In November 2014, Gibbs performed at Rough Trade in Williamsburg and as he was leaving, someone fired several shots inside his car. Gibbs was unharmed and gave the New York Post an ominous quote outside the venue: “They tried to kill Tupac. They tried to kill me.”

A shooting in New York is a grim capstone on the parallels between Gibbs and 2Pac. Both rap with booming, caustic conviction that turns fans to acolytes, albeit to varying degrees, and both cross the country in their tastes and collaborators. And they’re both outspoken. The Quad Studios shooting turned 2Pac into a paranoid and relentless agitator who signed with Suge Knight and courted conflict.

Gibbs avoided New York until last April when he returned to promote Shadow of a Doubt. He admitted in the Rap Radar interview that he resented New York for a time. “I felt betrayed. I felt like the people around me betrayed me. I felt disrespected from somewhere that I felt like I showed so much love to,” he said. He continued, “It was a lot of confusion, because I was thinking certain rappers was involved with the shit, and I was hating them, and I was pulling up on they shit about to shoot they shit up too, but then I was like, ‘Nah man, you gotta control your emotions.’” His girlfriend was about six months pregnant at the time and he said the birth of his daughter helped him calm down. That he could be nonchalant and crack jokes seemed like a blessing.

Three months later, he was arrested before he could take the stage at a show in Toulouse and then extradited to Austria where a 17 year old woman had accused him of raping her in 2015. He spent four months in Europe until a Vienna court cleared him, citing a lack of evidence. Noisey Austria got a picture of him after the verdict where he appeared overcome with emotion.

So on “Crushed Glass,” we meet a man who recently reckoned with death and up to 10 years in a foreign prison. Gibbs has always rapped with urgency, but the trauma is fresh here. He relives the indignities of incarceration: they don’t let him shower, they serve inedible food, they keep him for 30 days after his bail is paid. The video sees him wandering an endless desert only to wake up in a prison cot to the howling of inmates. Freddie Gibbs, whose cadence suggests unassailable confidence, shows us that abject helplessness is never that far away.