Freddie Gibbs' first collab with producer Madlib bust opens with a declaration, “They’re supplying dope to the Black and Mexican communities,” before another voice monologues on “only the strong survive,” establishing the central theme of this album. It’s a Blaxploitation jungle out here and Darwinism rules supreme. Between this track and “Scarface,” it’s one of the tightest album openers introducing an even better record. Met with widespread critical acclaim, cited as hardcore hip-hop reminiscent of Raekwon and RZA while still being modern enough for fans of Odd Future and Mobb Deep. The record also features modern greats like Danny Brown, Domo, Earl Sweatshirt and Ab-Soul.
Hip-hop in the 2010s was defined by rap going pop, inspiring an unprecedented renaissance in the genre. But lost in the evolution was authentic, lyrical gangster rap. Freddie Gibbs is just that. Coming from Gary, Indiana, Freddie knows the trenches. Regularly rated high on murder charts, the Steel City is best known for its massive abandoned steel mills and where the Jackson five originated before the white flight pulled the plug on the community. He lived a hard life getting out on a football scholarship to Ball State before dropping out, joined and was kicked out of the military, couldn’t hold down a day job and landed in a trap selling crack and pimping. But with his talent for rapping, he turned his misfortune into a way out. XXL would help launch him by including him on their 2010 Freshman list alongside Wiz Khalifa, J. Cole and Big Sean. He would find critical and commercial success as a master of flows, modernizing gangster rap for a new generation.