Aug 23, 2010 - 9:17 PM
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At a time when rap’s target audience is the cast of Jersey Shore instead of the residents of the Jersey projects, it’s time we get back to basics. Enter Gary, IN native Freddie Gibbs. Once signed to Interscope, Gangsta Gibbs is now dominating the indie rap scene and giving hipster rappers cause for alarm. He’s bringing back raw, gritty realism to rap while showcasing lyrical excellence with his brash Midwest drawl and double-time delivery. He may scream “Fuck the world!” like 2Pac, stay strapped like Biggie and remain ruthless like Eazy, but Gibbs is blazing his own unrelenting path. And he hasn’t let the industry’s fickle nature halt his efforts either.
Following a string of successful mixtapes, Gibbs hit 2010 hard, appearing on the cover of XXL as a member of the Freshmen 10 on the merit of his skill alone. Fans have since waited patiently for Gibbs to drop some new heat. This month, he released his Str8 Killa No Filla mixtape, followed by his Str8 Killa EP, available now on Decon Records. (See him perform live in San Francisco on Wed., Aug. 25 at 330 Ritch. Click here for more details.)
We caught up with Gibbs to talk about his music, industry bullshit and garbage-ass rappers.
Listen to "Crushin' Feelin's" (from Str8 Killa No Filla mixtape)
Listen to "P.S.A." (from Str8 Killa No Filla mixtape)
You started off the year on the cover of XXL. It seems like 2010 is gonna be a big year for you.
Man, I’m bout to crush these niggas this year. F’real dog, can’t nobody rap better than me. If a mothafucka feel a certain way about it, then they just feel a certain way about it, but that’s my personal opinion. For me to feel like I’m the best and to be sitting at home, that wasn’t the move. I took that whole year (2009) and I sat back and was like, “Yeah, I’m bout to crush these niggas. I’m bout to get focused and do what I gotta do.” You know what I mean? Because I had some situations in this game that really threw me off and had me in the dumps. I had to just get back on my grind.
What were those situations? I know you were signed to Interscope at one point.
Yeah, that definitely fucked me up. It fucked up my outlook on the whole music game. It made me think that all these mothafuckas was fake because the mothafuckas around me was the fakest of the fake. They embraced me, and I embraced them like family but I had to learn the hard way that ain’t too many mothafuckas in this game your family. I had to let my emotions of all that go and get back in and stop being sour on the industry and say fuck the industry.
So what's it take in 2010 for an emcee to maintain and find some sort of success?
You know what man? That’s yet to be seen because I think I’m about to do something different that nobody ever did or hasn’t done in a long time because there ain’t too many original mothafuckas out here. Everybody sounds the same, everybody’s trying to mimic or do something that’s already been successful. I’m not conforming or following nobody’s blueprint. I’m just doing me and that’s what it’s gon’ take for any mothafucka to survive out here in this dirty game. It’s hard for a nigga to get money out this music shit, that’s why a mothafucka still in the streets.
You put those extended mixtapes with like 80-something tracks. That was ridiculous.
That was a combination and collection of the work I’d been working on for the last couple years. I just didn’t want to let this shit sit. I wanted to get it all out there and get people more familiar and get people caught up on what I was doing.
You came to LA how many years ago?
I first came to LA in 2006. And then I left LA in 2007 and came back in ’08. I’ve been back and forth. I do a lot of business out there so it’s a good place for me to be, between there and Geary and Chicago and whatnot.
You always hear that story about people coming to LA from all over to make it big, but few actually do. How did you make such a big impact so fast?
That was the good about me signing to Interscope; it put me in the arena of people I would never see or talk to in Gary at all. I used that part of it to my advantage. They ain’t put my record out or no shit like that but, for the most part, I just took that and ran with it.
You’ve got another project coming out this year, right?
Str8 Killa No Filla. That’s bout to drop next. You talkin’ bout a full album? I don’t know. It might, it might not. I’m just doing music, man. With the fucked up politics in this game, it’s a lot of companies and shit that’s scared to take a chance on a nigga like me ‘cause they feel like I’m not gon’ give them no single or some shit like that. These labels, they’re not signing mothafuckas to give them full albums no more, they just want your songs. It’s like the mothafuckin’ ‘50s or some shit. My shit will come out, it’s just finding the right home for it and putting it in the right position. I think my shit is next level and deserves to be put on the highest pedestal. And if a company ain’t willing to share my vision, then fuck ‘em. I’m straight, I’ll keep doing what the fuck I’m doing. Like I said, I ain’t in this shit to be the most famous nigga. If that happens, then that happens but mothafuckas gon’ know I’m the best in this shit.
Can you tell me a little more about Str8 Killa?
It’s self explanatory: Str8 Killa No Filla. There’s a lot of in between ass mothafuckas in the game and I’m just bringing that hard shit back. I’m trying to re-establish this gangsta rap ‘cause a lot of people done took it and did all kinds of bullshit to it and fucked it up. And the mothafuckas that’s really doing it for real, you gotta sift through too much of the bullshit to get to it, and I wanna eliminate all that.
All original beats?
About 70-30, mostly original. But the beats that I pick, most muhfuckas ain’t gonna know where they came from.
On one of your mixtapes, you rapped over “93 ‘til Infinity” and a lot of beats that cats weren’t rapping over. A lot of cats rap over what’s hot right now and recycle the same hook.
‘Cause they garbage, ‘cause they fuckin’ garbage. I rapped over that shit ‘cause, for one, mothafuckas don’t expect me to rap over that shit with me being from Gary, so when I do it, and do it to perfection, they like, ‘Aww shit, this mothafucka can really rap.” Like, yeah nigga that’s what I’m in this shit for, to really rap. I’m not in here to play with y’all. I’m a always pick obscure beats and just shit that gives me a challenge. What’s the point of me rapping what’s on the mothafucking mixshow on the radio, using the same hook and putting a rap to it? That shit don’t make no fuckin’ sense. I’m not gon’ shine or stand out. I do what I want to do with this rap shit; other mothafuckas just do what they can.
What’s next for you?
Man, just rocking these shows and staying in that lab. As long as I hold my integrity in the studio, can’t nothing stop me. I think the people know that, I think the people know that I’m not gon’ bend over for nobody or no money or none of this shit in this game and I’m gonna hold true to what I’m doing. That’s why people love, so I’m a keep doing it.
Zoneil Maharaj is editor-in-chief of Oh Dang! His gangsta rap collection includes gems such as Temporary Insanity's Bitchez Neva Learn and Dayton Family's What's on my Mind?.
Ariel Zambelich is a contributor to Oh Dang! Check out more of her work at www.arielzambelich.com.