Freddie Gibbs is a fighter. Born and raised on the mean streets of Gary, Indiana, Gibbs lived amid crushing poverty on all sides, and the only way he saw out of a system stacked against young black children was to rap. Well, rap he did, quickly amassing a local following and catching the attention of Interscope Records, who signed him to a deal in the mid-2000s, where he was destined to become the next 50 Cent at the tail-end of gangsta-rap's mainstream popularity. As the mainstream began to abandon the gritty street-tales of superstars Ja Rule, Young Jeezy, and the aforementioned 50 in favor of Lil' Wayne, Gucci Mane, and T-Pain, Gibbs saw the album he recorded languish in Interscope's vault, his one shot at success floating him by when the label refused to take a chance on him. So in 2009 and now signed to the independent Decon Records, he released two mixtapes, The Miseducation of Freddie Gibbs, a compilation of new songs mixed with album cuts from his abandoned debut, and the expansive midwestgangstaboxframecadillacmuzik, made up of completely new material. Then suddenly, Gibbs had his career back, complete with a headlining slot at the Pitchfork Music Festival in 2010 and the release of his Str8 Killa No Filla EP and mixtape.
With a rags-to-riches-to-rags-to-riches story like this, Freddie Gibbs has the potential to be the next Tupac Shakur, except with two crucial differences - Gibbs never attended LaGuardia "the school from FAME" High School, and Gibbs is simply a better rapper. He masterfully switches between flows, employing both a multisyllabic Das EFX speed-rap and a slower, smoky drawl. He has a way of making lyrical territory that's been covered numerous times before seem fresh, precisely because he's so smart and attacks these subjects from so many different angles.
So, with his success looming around the corner in 2011, it should come as no surprise that someone from his camp leaked "It's All Cognac", a sparkling, horn-accented feel-good song that was meant to end his Interscope album. Although Freddie Gibbs has grown as a lyricist considerably since 2004, it's as great as ever to hear him over a beautiful beat, this time produced by Bink! who has most notably worked on Kanye West's "Devil In a New Dress". On "Cognac", Gibbs references the gangsta-rap of his youth and his current monetary status with the lines "Mo' money, mo' liquor/the hoes fuck a little quicker/bank account got a little thicker", his cadence effortless over the dry, cinematic production. Gangsta Gibbs is destined for big things. Hopefully, he'll get his shine in the New Year, but if he keeps releasing tracks like "It's All Cognac" I'm sure he will.