Freddie Gibbs exploded onto the gangsta rap scene two years ago with a pair of epic mixtapes, Midwestgangstaboxframecadillacmuzik and The Miseducation of Freddie Gibbs, the latter of which partially comprised material leftover from recording sessions while Gibbs was very briefly signed with Interscope Records. When listening you immediately see where rows over content may have come in. Freddie’s raw, and authenticity is the name of his game.
But all of this is old news. For two years fans have been marveling at Gibbs’ combination of cold, bruising straight-talk of a lifetime hustler and alternate reproach for the dangerously vacuous Gary, Ind. Combine that with a lightning fast flow that’s as shifty as it is relentless, and you get a resume roughly similar to the Jay-Z of Reasonable Doubt in 1996, which leaves us waiting for a Reasonable Doubt-type statement from Gibbs. Lord Giveth, Lord Taketh Away is not that statement.
Nor was it meant to be. It is, by nature, an unessential mixtape released with transparent marketing strategies to keep fans interested and aware. The rapid-fire recording sessions were filmed and streamed live as Gibbs and DJ Statik Selektah put the EP of a mixtape together in less than a day. Obviously not the recipe for a masterpiece, Lord Giveth finds Gibbs in comfortable, staid territory.
The production isn’t terribly interesting: it provides the beat and enough variation from track-to-track to remain unobtrusive. And the rapping is spontaneous, bare bones boasting by way of one-liners and minor anecdotes, but nothing that goes beyond schoolyard sticks and stones in terms of impact. The title track is the tape’s most polished piece, encompassing the basics of Gibbs’ repertoire: Drugs, pimping women, flawed ghettos and their inescapability. Put all this over a laid-back beat, a simple repetition of chord changes and fills and you get the type of just-above-average rap track Gibbs could put together in his sleep.
As a whole, Lord Giveth bypasses the grimy anthems for choruses and stone-cold majesty of the production found on his most successful material. Add to this some comparatively dulled lyrics, and suddenly, what Gibbs has painted with deep-cutting expositions and colorful strokes of detail in the past is being treated with one-off quips and discreet production here. But possibly the biggest development to come from this release is the disparaging drop in the number of references to Gibbs’ hometown of Gary. This is undoubtedly a result of 1) Freddie’s slowly expanding dexterity behind the mic and 2) the fact that Freddie is not rapping as often as he should be for a 19-minute release — only the title track forgoes a featured guest.
For someone trying to keep fans entertained and intrigued in the midst of putting together a full, label-backed debut LP, Gibbs only stands to make fans more anxious with such listless exposure.
Bun B – Hood Champs
Freddie Gibbs – Str8 Killa
Curren$y – This Ain’t No Mixtape