Chatting about Roots and Rap with @FreddieGibbs

Indi­ana nat­ive Fred­die Gibbs is quite pos­sibly the most assidu­ous rap­per in the game.  Since releas­ing his debut mix­tape ‘Full Metal Jack­et’ in 2004 he has con­tin­ued to deliv­er high-qual­ity mater­i­al at an astound­ing pace. Earli­er this year he released ‘Piñata’, a col­lab­or­at­ive album with legendary pro­du­cer Madlib, a release that has seen phe­nom­en­al acclaim and com­mer­cial suc­cess, really push­ing Fred­die Gibbs to the front of the 2014 rap pack.

I caught up with Gang­ster Gibbs dur­ing the Lon­don leg of his recent UK tour and got his thoughts on the albums suc­cess, how he’s find­ing the UK, the cur­rent polit­ic­al cli­mate In Amer­ica and why racism still exists…

Q. What’s good Fred­die? Great to see you in the UK and wel­come to Lon­don!  How have you found the UK so far?

Ah man, I LOVE the UK…Glasgow was dope last night, it was a real good show and I’m excited about tonight, tonight is sold out!

Q. London’s a big one…

Yeah, it’s gon’ be dope!

Q.  The album you’ve got out at the moment ‘Piñata’ with Madlib, it’s been out a while now, but how did that col­lab­or­a­tion first come about?

 You know what man; it was some­thing that really just sprung out of noth­ing.  Madlib and myself had mutu­al friends and we all just star­ted to be cool, then it turned into a phe­nomen­on that we didn’t expect.  I def­in­itely worked hard on it, I approached it like I do all my pro­jects, like a rap ath­lete and I think I com­pleted my mis­sion, it’s selling good…it’s still selling.  I’m totally inde­pend­ent, I can actu­ally sit back and say that I did that on my own, and hope­fully I can get a Grammy nom­in­a­tion for best rap album, because I think it’s def­in­itely one of the more solid rap albums of the year.  A lot of guys prob­ably had big­ger singles, those type of artists, but when it comes to put­ting togeth­er an entire project…a record…I think I suc­ceeded in hav­ing one of the best of the year.

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Q. It’s a clas­sic album in my opin­ion, without a doubt…

I agree, thank you.

Q. How long in the mak­ing was it?

It was…man….actually man it was a span of may­be over like, 3 years.  I was put­ting out oth­er pro­jects, I put out BFK, I put out the ESGN pro­ject, all in the whole time I was work­ing on the Piñata album.  So it was some­thing that I would go to, then go back to…it was hard to make, it was like put­ting togeth­er a puzzle, because it was some­thing that I wasn’t used to, but like I say, I think it was the ulti­mate dis­play of my ver­sat­il­ity because I got to show that I could do some­thing that nobody else in my gen­re was doing music wise, so it def­in­itely set me apart from oth­er street rap­pers and gang­ster rap­pers of this gen­er­a­tion.

Q. When you were work­ing with Madlib, did you both work on the beats and the lyr­ics togeth­er or did you work inde­pend­ently on your respect­ive crafts and bring the two togeth­er after­ward?

He would give me things…he def­in­itely worked on all the beats, what I would do is I would chop things and I would put things where I wanted to in cer­tain spots…it was a beau­ti­ful mar­riage, it came togeth­er great because he prob­ably sent me a thou­sand beats, y’know?  But I had to pick the best 16, well not the best 16, but the 16 that fit me the best.  There was some oth­er ones that I was like wow, may­be I can attack that in a year’ or some­thing like that.  It def­in­itely sharpened my sword as an MC, as a lyr­i­cist, so I had to pick my points and really attack it like a game plan, like a foot­ball game or some­thing like that, you got­ta have everything in place in order to get the win and I think that I suc­ceeded on both ends, offens­ively and defens­ively on this record.

Q. Will you col­lab­or­ate with Madlib again in the future?

Yes, def­in­itely, there’s def­in­itely gon­na be a part 2.  I can’t say when it’s com­ing, because we def­in­itely gon­na ride this one out, but sometime…and like I said it took me 3 years to make the first one, y’know we def­in­itely gon­na come with the sequel at some point, I just have to talk to Madlib and see when that can come about.  I got enough tracks that I could make the sequel now really, but I wan­na do it in the cor­rect fashion…this one was a clas­sic so I wan­na fol­low it up with another one.

Q. Going back to your roots…you’re from Gary, Indi­an and you talk about that quite a lot in your music, ‘G.I. Pride’ for example.  In the UK we may­be don’t have too clear an idea about what your town is like so can you describe Gary to us a little?

Shiiiiiit, look at this floor right here, that’s how Gary is, just fucked up man.  It’s just a run down town, it’s a ghost town.  How can I put this…it’s part of the rust belt of Amer­ica, it’s one of those towns that had a flour­ish­ing industry with­in it, it had the steel industry, like Detroit had the car industry, it was kinda par­al­lel to that.  When that industry star­ted to fail…loss of jobs…drugs, all kind of things of that nature…unemployment…economically it’s in a fucked up spot so sim­il­ar to Fer­guson, Mis­souri, sim­il­ar to East St. Louis, sim­il­ar to like I said, Detroit, sim­il­ar to Flint, Michigan, sim­il­ar to Young­stown, Ohio, the rust belt of Amer­ica y’know man?  It’s like those Mid­west towns that are like…it’s just do or die in a lot of those towns.

Q. Com­ing from that back­ground, do you think you can relate bet­ter than most to the prob­lems that are going on in Fer­gus­son at the moment, like you have a bet­ter vant­age point to under­stand what’s going on there with the upris­ing and the shoot­ing of Michael Brown?

Def­in­itely, because I’ve exper­i­enced police bru­tal­ity, I think a lot of black males have, espe­cially black males that come from the streets.  If you involved with the streets you def­in­itely gon­na have an encoun­ter with the police at a cer­tain point.  Some of those times you might be doing wrong, and then some of those times you might not, you might just get put in a box because you’re, you know, that ele­ment and police can…a lot of police in Amer­ica and every­where abuse their power man.  That’s a huge position…to be a police­man I mean.  You essen­tially have my life in your hands…you can kill me, arrest me, take my money, take whatever you want…and it’s my word again­st yours and the author­it­ies are gon­na believe you, you’re an officer.  So, you know this abuse of power man…it’s ridicu­lous.  I sin­cerely don’t think they had to kill Michael Brown, I def­in­itely think there was non-leth­al ways of doing what they had to do…but, that’s Amer­ica man, and every­body got a gun.  I got a lot of guns, I wish that people didn’t have guns, I got a lot of guns because the next man got guns and I got­ta pro­tect my fam­ily, that’s why I got them.  I wish that they would just out­law assault rifles or some­thing like that man, there’s no need for that shit in the neigh­bour­hood, there’s no need for that but oth­er people have them, so we have them…it’s that fear that makes you have guns.  I don’t just show my guns in my videos and shit like that just to flash them or some­thing like that, I’m show­ing you the ele­ment we’re in.  We’re def­in­itely bold and brave and cour­ageous, but deep down we afraid man.  We’re outnumbered…we are the minor­ity, and it’s that fear that eats up our com­munity, that’s why we hurt each oth­er and do so many bad things to each oth­er man, we are afraid.  We are out­numbered in Amer­ica, we come from slaves y’know?  And we had a men­tal­ity injec­ted in us that’s been car­ried on for 500 years in that coun­try.  I hate to say it but they’ve broken a lot of us, they’ve broken our fam­il­ies because that men­tal­ity gets passed on gen­er­a­tion to gen­er­a­tion to gen­er­a­tion.

Q. That must be sad to see…

It stopped with me, it def­in­itely stopped with me.  I am free of the slave men­tal­ity, I don’t sub­mit or suc­cumb to any­body and they’re way of think­ing, I’m fully aware of myself, my pres­ence and my worth and most black people aren’t and they need to be.  They need to real­ise their self-worth and the things that they can bring to the table and it will build their self-con­fid­ence and then break their slave men­tal­ity.  That’s what’s killing us in Amer­ica, that men­tal­ity from 500 years back.  The powers that be they look at it like ‘ite, its fucked up y’all doing this, we got­ta pun­ish you pun­ish you’, but you instilled that in us, they instilled that shit in us, that slave men­tal­ity, those politi­cians, police, over­seers, all that shit is his­tory repeat­ing itself, that’s all.

Q. What’s next for you…your album East Side Slim?  Is that still com­ing?

I think that’s gon­na be a mix­tape, my albums gon­na be called Life­styles of the Insane, that’s gon­na be com­ing out in April…April or May I dun­no, I got a baby on the way so I got­ta pick and choose when I’m gon­na drop my album.

Q. Con­grat­u­la­tions! When’s the baby due?

The baby drop­ping April…the baby got a release date before the album!

Q. So we can expect the new album next year some­time?

Yeah next year some­time, in the spring or the sum­mer, I’m def­in­itely gon­na come with a new pro­ject.  I’m prob­ably gon­na drop a tape or some­thing before the end of the year.

Q. Excel­lent, you’re mix­tapes are always worth look­ing out for…

I’m def­in­itely gon­na feed the appet­ite of the people, y’know what I’m say­ing?!


freddie gibbs

Micky Roots 

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Micky Roots

Micky Roots

Micky roots is one of the edit­ors of I am hip hop magazine, a pure hip hop head and visu­al artist he brings his strong know­ledge of hip hop, social con­scious­ness & polit­ic­al con­cern to No Bounds.

About Micky Roots

Micky Roots
Micky roots is one of the editors of I am hip hop magazine, a pure hip hop head and visual artist he brings his strong knowledge of hip hop, social consciousness & political concern to No Bounds.

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