Only Internet rap critics complain about whether or not a rapper whom 99.9% of the world has never heard of is overrated. If there was a secret PR formula that Freddie Gibbs and his team possessed, he wouldn’t be living in the seediest part of Van Nuys, with overturned shopping carts littering the sidewalk and dudes mean-mugging you on the walk in. He wouldn’t have had to sleep on couches for the first six months of his return to Los Angeles. He would’ve dropped an album on Aftermath in 2006 and you would have heard him of him a long time ago, via the vast Interscope marketing machine.
Nor has any myopic or misguided nostalgia for UGK driven his rise in notoriety. If anything, 2Pac and Bone Thugs are more salient influences. Occasionally, good music can win critical plaudits off the merits of being good music (shocking, I know)–especially when many of his peers are shackled into making ill-fitting pop concessions or diluting their product with redundant mixtape after mixtape. Truthfully, I didn’t even realize how exceptional Gibbs’ music was until after I interviewed him for the LA Weekly, returned to the songs, and realized that everything that he’d told me was already there. He has a powerful story, he’s from a city whose story has rarely been told, he’s a skilled writer, and his flow is wicked. Find me another rapper with that same skill set and I’ll write about them. So will everyone else.
In the meantime.
ZIP: Freddie Gibbs-The Labels Trying to Kill Me