Born Fredrick Jamel Tipton, the Gary, IN-born emcee and JOVM mainstay Freddie Gibbs initially signed with Interscope Records in 2006 and after recording his full-length debut with the label, the Gary, IN-born emcee was dropped as a result of the label’s management changing hands — and the album was subsequently shelved; however, with the release of 2009’s The Miseducation of Freddie Gibbs, a prolific series of mixtapes and his 2013’s full-length debut ESGN (Evil Seeds Grow Naturally), Gibbs quickly established a reputation for being a talented lyricist and narrative-based storyteller with an imitable, gruff flow.
Gibbs’ work largely focuses on street shit and hustling but unlike most of his peers, who take on exaggerated, superhuman personas and describe tales in which their heroes always win, Gibbs pulls the showbiz curtains aside with a frank and unvarnished honesty and realism. His characters inhabit a world much like own, full of gritty, almost Darwinistic struggles in which men and women do evil things to others to get by, fully aware of the fact that they’re paving roads to their own unique, fucked up hell. And as a result, the Gary, IN-born JOVM mainstay became a go-to collaborator, working with an impressive list of artists and producers including Young Jeezy, Juicy J, Philadelphia Freeway, Dom Kennedy, J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, Big K.R.I.T., Cardo, DJ Burn One, Speakerbomb, Block Beattaz, Beatnick and K-Salaam, Chip tha Ripper, The Cool Kids‘ Chuck Inglish and Mikey Rocks, Krayzie Bone, SpaceGhostPurrp, Jadakiss, Kirko Bangz, Jay Rock, Curren$y and others.
Five years ago, Gibbs teamed up with Madlib, arguably one of hip-hop’s dopest, most inventive and prolific producers on the critically and commercially successful Piñata, which landed at #38 on the Billboard 200 and number seven on the US Top Rap Albums Charts. At the time of its release, I compared Piñata to Small Professor’s and Guilty Simpson’s collaboration Highway Robbery as both albums were the result of a shared artistic vision that channelled golden era hip hop.
In 2016 Madlib announced that he would be working with Madlib on their second album together Bandana, and that many of the rejected beats he auditioned for Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo would appear on the new album. Gibbs and his manager later confirmed that on Twitter. During that same period, the Gary, IN-born JOVM mainstay was busy with the release of his third solo album, 2017’s You Only Live 2wice and last year’s Fetti, a collaborative album with Curren$y.
Interestingly, three years after its initial announcement, the long-awaited Bandana is slated for a June 28, 2019 release through Keep Cool Records, RCA Records, Madlib Invazion and ESGN. Earlier this year, Gibbs and Madlib released Bandana’s first single, the album title track “Bandana,” which featured dancehall artist Assassin. Bandana’s second and latest single “Crime Pays” is centered around a Roy Ayers-like shimmering, old-school 70s jazz soul sample and Gibbs gruff and imitable baritone dexterously rhyming about the street shit and hustling that he’s well-known for, but underneath that is the bitter recognition that you can roll the dice so many times before hitting snake eyes at some point.
Directed by Nick Walker, and starring Gibbs as himself, Zoe Neal as Farm Girl, John Pistone as Farm Guy 1, Mazen Shehabi as Farm Guy 2 and Benedikt Sebastian, the recently released video for “Crime Pays” is set on a farm in the seemingly fiction Mt. Kane. Gibbs’ character is a farm owner, who owns a massive property with three male helpers, who he cajoles and chides endlessly for being lazy, slow, stupid and so on. In fact, Gibbs’ character is so rich that he owns horses and zebras — but the video slowly reveals that they’re running a drug scheme that involves stashing loads of drugs in hay for delivery and distribution elsewhere. Gangster as fuck, indeed.