May 14, 2016
When you stand around for a rap show, you start noticing your surroundings and the people you’re about to share an experience with. Freddie Gibbs concerts, at least if you let social media tell it, draw all walks of life into the Temple of Gangsta Gibbs.
You have your tatted-from-(literal)-head-to-toe Hispanics, ladies who wear church hats with club attire, frat bros who do their best to omit every n-word they can and the diehard fans who flocked to the very front to do their best to outrap one of rap’s more technical wizards. By the time Gibbs arrived to the sounds of Soul II Soul’s “Back to Life,” he was having his own Belly moment. He saw the crowd with a menacing glare as one of the few artists in America who could be cold, menacing and a believable orator of drug deals gone bad and then some. Gibbs’s live show mixes its flair of putdowns of his DJ alongside skillful a cappella moments and hardcore raps. He urged the crowd in a sing-song voice to yell, “Fuck po-lice” or “ES-GN” before trampling cuts from a wide range of his releases over the past four years. His Baby Faced Killa mixtape still has one of the hardest intro tracks ever in “BFK,” and Saturday night, it rang out like a war chant to the faithful. He turned to his DJ and laughed at him for every time he messed up, even urging him to finish off an entire bottle of Hennessy in one sitting. Maybe because it was the last night of his Shadow of a Doubt tour, but Freddie Gibbs got loose, shedding his black hoodie to proudly sport a retro Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls jersey with the ’45’ stitched in.
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“It was raining hard then a motherfucker; I didn’t think y’all would make it to this motherfucker,” Gibbs said to a swell of cheers. “Y’all don’t mind if I do some old shit, right?”
Well, old shit for Freddie Gibbs dates back to 2012, which means he performed none of the material that initially made me a fan from MidwestBoxframeCadillacMuzik or The Miseducation of Freddie Gibbs. That was 2008 and 2009, meaning Gangsta Gibbs, in all his shaved-head, Huey-Newton-In-The-Wicker-Chair tatted on his back glory, would sort of play it safe. Hearing creep-around-the-corner tracks like “McDuck” from Shadow of a Doubt or watching him roll with “Careless” twice over brought a bit of glee to the ESGN faithful. They packed Warehouse Live’s Studio room all the way to the back couches. One of them even attempted to give Gibbs a $100 bill, to which he replied, “Keep that shit. I don’t need it.”
As it matters from a rap perspective, Freddie Gibbs is the unquestioned, undisputed truth when it comes to representing the very fleeting aura of “gangsta” rap. Tough guys don’t exist in the same perimeter as Gibbs these days, especially not as technically sound. They don’t lead their fans into a cappella leads that are easy to catch and latch onto until the beat kicks in. As the Soundcloud loosie “Money, Cash, Hoes” played, Gibbs spent most of the time thanking the fans with handshakes and daps, the charming victor of a long, successful tour. Houston may have looked as gloomy as could be on Saturday night, but Gangsta Gibbs wasn’t about to let his gruff voice and verbal dexterity go quietly.
Bout It Bout It
Rob Me a Nigga
Fuckin' Up the Count
Money, Cash, Hoes