“Versatility” has a different definition depending on who you talk to. When I interviewed FloRida last week, he stressed its importance in sustaining longevity in the commercial rap game. Admittedly, he’s the same dude who had no qualms rhyming over Eiffel 65’s “I’m Blue,” so you have to take his words with a whiff of cheap imitation Gucci cologne. But it’s true that if you want to be one of the dozen “mainstream” rappers left, you’re expected to write viable pop songs and still satisfy the underground/blog base that you used to build your buzz. The Kanye’s and Rozay’s are rare. More common are the other two archetypes: the street rapper unable to get radio play now that their heat’s cooled (see 50, Game, Jeezy, Tip, et. al) or the subterranean hope gone crossover cornball (see Lupe, Wiz, Wale).
The other path is the Gibbs/Curren$y plan: crank out stunningly consistent product, with each release slightly different and tailored towards similar but different demographics — enough to keep things interesting. Freddie’s latest project is something akin to his version of Curren$y’s Covert Coupe. Rapper well-versed in Southern slang heads East to record with a boom-bap purist. The catch was that Gibbs and Static Selektah recorded Lord Giveth, Lord Taketh Away in 24 hours.
Normally, this is a terrible idea, but in this case it creates lowered expectations. No one’s expecting a classic, so all Gibbs has to do is crush Selektah’s sub-Pete Rock boom bap. With guest appearances from Smoke DZA, Daz, Trae the Truh, and uh, Fred the Godson, Gibbs only has to handle a eight or nine verses throughout the record’s 20 minute run time. And he refuses to spit a bad 16 –there is no more consistently marrow-splintering rapper out there than Freddie. This is his New York post-boom bap record, an interesting experiment that never outwears its welcome. Even If it’s mildly disposable, that’s alright. He’ll have records with Jeezy to flood the streets and his own project with Alchemist planned soon. Plus, his top-secret project that will make backpacks explode like Dilla rose from the dead. All of them flashing a versatility without contrivation. Plus, his interviews are hotter.