On Friday night, Freddie Gibbs released his fourth studio album, Freddie, to his fans by surprise. The Gary, Indiana rapper’s latest release features 10 tracks, and clocks in at just over 25 minutes. Freddie is Gibbs’ first release since 2017’s You Only Live 2wice, which marked his return to the rap game since being acquitted of sexual assault charges and spending time in European jail.
Like most of Gibbs’ work, Freddie features a heavy emphasis on the trap sound that he built his career on. This may come as a surprise based on the cover, as you might expect soul-sampled beats, given the homage paid to Teddy Pendergrass’ Teddy album. This style of instrumental fits Gibbs far more, as evident by his acclaimed 2014 collaboration with legendary producer Madlib, Piñata. Nonetheless, Gibbs brings clever lyrics and aggressive flows to a trap genre that often lacks both with the recent popularity of “mumble rap.”
While not as dynamic as some of his previous trap-oriented work, Freddie still has its high points. “Death Row,” which features the album’s only rap feature, 03 Greedo, is a hard-hitting homage to the West Coast. Lyrics referencing the 90’s record label of the same name, as well as the sample and interpolation of Eazy-E’s “Boyz in The Hood” makes for a creative and energetic track. “2 Legit” is another great song and is the only time we get a hint of soul, with a faint but noticeable, Roy Ayers sample. The spacey sound and the heavy drums mesh extremely well, and Gibbs flows comfortably over the instrumental. Songs like “Set Set” and “Triple Threat” also stand out for their grittiness and energy.
Lyrically, Gibbs mainly stays within the trap realm on this album. Typically, he raps about both the glory, and the negative consequences of street life. Illustrating this on “Diamonds 2,” Gibbs raps: “I can’t lie I still get high on prescriptions; sometimes I go weeks without no sleep, I’m in the 5th dimension.” The way Freddie Gibbs raps about the dichotomy of street life has always been one of his strong suits as an artist. Unfortunately, on Freddie, we get more flexing than introspection.
Overall, Freddie delivers on what it was likely meant to do: it keeps Gibbs relevant in the current rap discussion and provides some bangers to drive around to. Given its content, instrumental selection, and short run-time, there isn’t much to dissect on Freddie. Gibbs delivered his tough lyrics and weaving flow over some good trap instrumentals. Freddie should not go over-looked by Gibbs’ fans, or newcomers to the rapper. However, the wait still continues for Bandana, the sequel to Piñata.