Review: Freddie Gibbs' "ESGN"

Review: Freddie Gibbs' "ESGN"

After a decade in the industry and a slew of mixtapes, Freddie Gibbs is finally ready to show and prove with he release of his highly anticipated "ESGN" album

Freddie Gibbs is a veteran in the rap game but it’s taken him a decade to put out his first studio album. Cutting his teeth on the mixtape circuit, Gibbs released a steady stream of solid projects rife with stories of the drug game. After signing with Interscope Records, Gibbs was shuffled to the back of the bus before being dropped altogether. Finding a home at Young Jeezy’s CTE label in April of 2011, it seemed like the perfect marriage for Gibbs, who could swap bar for bar about the woes of the drug game with the Snowman.

However the honeymoon was over late last year when news broke of Gibbs’ departure from CTE. Trying to be diplomatic about the split from Young Jeezy’s CTE, Gangsta Gibbs initially said the break was amicable but after being asked the same question over and over, he finally expressed his true feelings.  "I started seeing the fake and the empty promises and all of that stuff and I just didn't wanna be around that no more," Gibbs said.

While most rappers would hesitate before talking ill of someone like Jeezy, this is normal behavior for Gibbs, who’s just as much of a gangsta as his name and lyrics imply. The Gary, Indiana native is a throwback from an era when rappers could care less about radio play and made music for the streets. Which is exactly what his new album ESGN (Evil Seeds Grow Naturally) is.  Capitalizing off of the buzz surrounding his departure (and a mix up with distribution), Gibbs releases his highly anticipated album three weeks early.

After a brief intro from Lil Sodi, Gangsta Gibbs gets it started with “The Real G Money,” a hard-hitting anthem of who Gibbs is as a rapper to the core:

"From a G to a kilo/ To a mil from a motherfuckin zero/ .45 when I look through the peephole/ Nigga, I’m the real G money, no Nino"

The rest of the album continues on with that same theme. Gibbs goes in on one song after the next rapping about what he knows best: thriving in the dope game. Other rappers may go into the booth and get emotional about a female but Gibbs has always been brutally honest in his tales from the streets, a quality that’s earned him plenty of fans.

Serving as one of the singles off of the album that was turned into a video, “Eastside Moonwalker,” Gibbs pays homage (in his own way) to the late Michael Jackson who is also from his hometown of Gary, Indiana.

"Lifestyles of the insane/ Eastside thug nigga/ I’m the shit, you a shit stain/ I let the boxframe frame switch lanes/ Not a pretty nigga but I got some game for a bitch brain/ And I lay it on so thick/ Charge it all to a board/ Heard a pimp nigga quote this"

Gibbs has the knack for making beautiful gangsta music. “Have U Seen Her” and “The Color Purple,” both about drugs, incorporate catchy melodies into the song. One of the stand-out tracks on ESGN is “9mm” featuring G.I. Fleezy and G-Wiz, a smooth, sweet and soft-sounding song that stands in stark contrast from the lyrics:

"Listen to my 9 millimeter go bang/ How I take a nigga life like it’s alright it’s so strange/ Put your family in the trunk/ Man it’s a very cold game/ Shit, I see you mighty terrified/ That’s why my 9 millimeter stays by my bedside/ Got partners locked up in state/ Some partners on fed time/ Shoot first and ask questions later/Boy you ain’t never lyin, ain’t never lyin"

Gibbs uses EGSN to give his crew and friends a platform to shine. G-Wiz, G.I. Fleezy, Big Kill, Daz Dillinger and Spice 1 are all featured. Problem joins him on the clever “One Eight Seven.” BJ the Chicago Kid helps Gibbs slow things down on the mellowed out “Lose Control.” Lil Sodi and Gibbs become introspective on the harrowing “I Seen A Man Die.” Jay Rock and G-Wiz team up for “Certified Live.”

Helping to give ESGN that hard-thumping, dark and gritty feel, Gangsta Gibbs enlists the help of a multitude of producers. Lord Zedd, Lifted, League of Starz, Big Jerm, Sayez, J Reese, Willie B., The Colleagues,GMF, Cardo, Like O, Fire & Ice, Superville and more all lent their talents to help mold ESGN into a classic album with a hardcore feel. ESGN deserves a spot in rotation, preferably to played while creeping through the streets late at night.

Ready to emerge from the outskirts of rap, Gibbs stands center stage with ESGN, a solid album that should garner the proper attention that he rightfully deserves. Although he is a completely different type of artist than the gloved one, Gibbs is aware of where he comes from and wants to keep his city on the map. “Michael Jackson is dead, so I gotta pick up the torch and run with it for my city,” said Gibbs. “Actually, I am the only person grabbing it. I am just doing what I got to do. I’m the eastside moonwalker. I stay high, baby.”

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