At the end of Baby Face Killa’s opening track, DJ Drama announces: “It feels like gangster music, it sounds like gangster music and it looks like gangster music. So I guess we gotta proceed as such”. Over the next 65 minutes of his latest street album that’s exactly what Freddie Gibbs does.
Baby Face Killa shows the Gary, Indiana native playing to his strengths and displays the undeniable talent that’s quietly seen him rise to the elite of today’s crop of MCs. Turn on the radio these days and you’ll hear no shortage of radio gangsters filling the airwaves but you probably won’t be hearing a Freddie Gibbs joint; and having followed his career since 2010’s Str8 Killa, I get the impression Gibbs enjoys the freedom the underground gives him.
Instead of over-the-top stories to prove his gangster credentials, Gibb’s brand of gangster music is a more subtle, slow-burner. Gibb’s raps with the air of a veteran, in the vein of reality-rap greats like UGK, Scarface or Spice 1. Despite his rapid-fire delivery, Gibb’s doesn’t spit throwaway bars and his matter-of-fact demeanour can’t help but radiate an air of authenticity.
Baby Face Killa’s strength is its cohesion and the laid-back, atmospheric vibe of album opener “BFK” sets the tone for the album perfectly. A lot of thought has gone into the beat selection and track sequencing and Gibb’s versatility means he sounds just at home spitting ignorance on “Money, Clothes, Hoes” as he does on the more reflective “Stay Down”. Freddie Gibbs has always worked with a wide range of beatmakers and this album is no different. The result is a project that gets better with each listen.
The album’s guest list is also on point. Standout track “Kush Cloud” features a scene-stealing verse from Krayzie Bone, while Curren$y repays Gibb’s guest spot on Covert Coup with a routinely dope verse on “Tell a Friend”. Elsewhere Jadakiss and Jay Rock add muscle to the 70s vibe of “Krazy” and even Kirko Bangz doesn’t sound out of place on the radio-friendly “Bout It Bout It”. The sole misstep “Middle of the Night” would probably work fine in isolation, but doesn’t fit with the overall vibe of Baby Face Killa. However with a project this strong, it doesn’t detract from the overall quality.
Overall, Baby Face Killa keeps the Gangster Gibb’s momentum going strong. He seems to make nothing but good choices (most notably his recent work with Madlib) and for an artist yet to make his major label debut, he has already amassed an impressive body of work. His decision to sign to Young Jeezy’s CTE label is looking shrewder by the day and in these days of hype over substance, Freddie Gibb’s is that rare breed of rapper: a gimmick-free MC in a genre overflowing with them.
CWM WORSHIP TEAM
CURRENT WORLD MEDIA
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