Freddie Gibbs established himself as one to watch way back in 2010 when he found himself on the cover of XXL‘s coveted Freshman list. That look led to a higher profile, including ink in the New Yorker and, later, a deal with Jeezy’s CTE imprint. The stars looked as if they had aligned all at the right time for the Gary, Indiana native.
Fast forward to 2014—Gibbs is still a lyrical threat, but his fallout with Jeezy and a contempt for big name record labels have turned Gibbs into an underground staple, with his tales of criminal activities and raw attitude catching the attention of fans who could care less about mainstream mainstays.
On Pinata, Gibbs hooked up with the legendary Madlib to produce a full LP of uncut hip-hop, the very think that could finally propel him to stardom.
“Life’s a bitch, I was a virgin, hope she let me fuck/
Pray I miss before a nigga bust his last nut”
Freddie gets us acquainted with his train of thought here with a play on the popular saying. He was young and inexperienced when he took on the life of thuggin—getting it by any means necessary.
“But you ran off and got engaged, man that shit was wrong/
All to a nigga that don’t got nothin’ that I ain’t got/
Only difference is he trying to be a fuckin’ astronaut/
Saw this pussy nigga when I walked up in the barber shop/
Green as a leaf, lookin’ sweet, that cut a nigga deep”
The story of a love lost is captured in this five-bar sequence. Freddie’s girl grew tired of his lifestyle and opted for a gentleman instead. Though Gibbs was damaged by his lady’s decision, his love and admiration for her made him respect her selection.
“Eventually the penitentiary gon’ see me later/
Kiss my mama, told her if I die, then it was part of nature/
Gangsta Gibbs acknowledges the likely outcome of his poor behavior, but he welcomes these consequences with open arms.
“This white devil society dare a nigga to do drugs/
And dare yo ass to deal ’em, distribute and conceal ’em/
My niggas don’t got no boats or no ports, how you think we get ’em?/
Crack was Black America’s cup of coffee in the beginning”
Freddie delivers his perspective of “The War on Drugs.” He feels as if illegal substances such as cocaine were used as baits to trick African Americans into either using or distributing them, questioning how they got there in the first place. His analysis of the subject isn’t new, but it is a fresh twist.
“Cheat on your girl, your wife, sneak out to fuck hoes/
You motherfuckers just like me/
Drink all the liquor, blow weed, probably play with your nose/
You motherfuckers just like me”
If there’s one thing that a guy like Freddie doesn’t like, it’s a hypocrite. Gibbs catches a lot of flack for his way of living, but he knows that there are people living just like he is with a mask on covering the face that Gibbs wears for the world to see.
“My low class black ass would serve my own fucking family members/
I hate to say it, ain’t no need to be discreet/
If she don’t cop from me, she get it from a nigga up the street/
Cause he thuggin’/
And yo she’d probably suck his dick for it”
This may be as harsh as reality gets. Gibbs’ life decisions aren’t formed from a place of evil, but rather him looking at things from a practical standpoint. If he doesn’t sell his family members life-damaging substances, someone else will and it’ll be done in an even more demeaning manner, perhaps adding insult to injury.
“I thought the world was at my feet when I linked up with Snow/
But I refuse to be his flunkie, so we don’t kick it no mo’/
Straight to the facts, nigga/
I looked up to you, put that on my mama/
Signed a deal with you and never asked you for a dollar”
In what will be one of the most talked about moments from Pinata, Gibbs confronts his time spent on Jeezy’s CTE imprint. Freddie was excited at the beginning, but he that died down when he realized the role he was expected to play: that of a flunkie. He wasn’t down for that. It gets deeper though, so pay attention to this one.
“Know this pussy A&R that threw some bullshit cross the table/
Then next year I still be rappin’ and he be fired from his label”
Another theme in Freddie’s music is his disdain for the music “industry.” Scattered throughout Pinata are lines where he denounces the major corporations he previously sought validation from via record deals. Here, Gibbs recounts a story about an A&R who had given Gibbs a shitty contract which he didn’t sign. The results? Pretty self-explanatory.
“Granny found my dope, I told her I would stop for selling it/
Nigga please—she knew I was lying before I even spoke it”
As you can tell by now Gibbs doesn’t lead your normal family life. In a situation where most grandmothers would call the priest for an emergency exorcism, it looks like Grandmother Gibbs simply accepted that her grandson was going to move that dope whether she liked it or not.
“Hiding my insecurities with this gang flag/
We both despise the police, but he wore the same badge”
If we’ve learned anything about the man through his music it’s that he’s honest. Freddie Gibbs’ father was a policeman so it must have been an everyday struggle for the two to co-exist as Gibbs embodied his gangsta ways. What takes this line to the next level is him admitting that the gang flag that he flew was just a cover-up for the insecurities that laid deep inside, he was as ashamed of his father’s lifestyle as he was of his.
Realize I’m the voice for those who do not have a voice/
So I voice my fucking voice, I don’t have a fucking choice
Just when you thought it was over Meech Darko adds some finishing touches to Pinata with a pretty raw verse of his own. The Flatbush Zombie engages in a bit of shit-talking before he gets introspective and acknowledges his position as a voice for the voiceless.
Verdict: Gibbs isn’t a shock-line rapper, but he has a clever way of stringing his words together to make things sound complete. He’s grounded in his ways and he’s not one to ever shy away from confrontation. Combined with Madlibs production, Pinata makes for an introspective listen.