Freddie Gibbs has seen immense success since bursting onto the scene over a decade ago but even so, the Gary, Indiana rapper continues to revisit his hood days and there’s a reason for that – he can’t shake it.
Sitting down with Jesse Thorn for his Bullseye radio show on NPR, the Bandana rapper explains his gangsta rhymes come from a very real place and because of that, it’s almost impossible for him to ignore it.
“Really man, I’m not far removed from it you know what I mean? A lot of my friends are still in the streets,” said Gibbs.
“The rap game has afforded me to not be in the streets but a lot of my close friends are still living those lifestyles you know what I mean? I’m definitely not on the corner or riding around selling drugs all day you know, I’m a functioning musician with two kids you know what I mean? I’m on the road or I’m on daddy duty, but once that’s a part of you it’s never gonna leave you. You’re always gonna have those stories, there’s always gonna be those street undertones.”
His fans definitely love that he doesn’t stray from his past. He’s developed the moniker ‘Gangsta Gibbs’ due to his gritty bars and he doesn’t think that’s going to change…ever.
Coming up in a rough environment keeps Freddie focused and on point, almost as if he hasn’t been one of hip-hop’s grimiest MCs for the past few years. He still feels like he has something to prove and his upbringing keeps him motivated to continue to give it his all.
“I come from a place of underdogs so I’m always gonna be thinking with that underdog mentality,” he said.
“I’m always gonna feel like I gotta rebel or I gotta resist or you know, there’s somebody putting something in my way you know what I mean? Like if I tried to run out the room and you put that chair in front of the door like, I’mma knock the hell out of that chair with all my might or if you tell me the door locked, I’mma kick the door down. I’mma kick a little harder because at that point I’m fighting for my life.”
Being unique has its values in hip-hop and he believes that’s what sets him apart from his contemporaries. However, from his perspective it doesn’t make sense for fans to disregard artists’ work because it steers away from the norm. After all, that’s what hip-hop is kind of all about – being true to yourself and not giving a damn what anyone thinks about it.
“I never liked that because I always been such a versatile fan of rap you know what I mean? I like all kind of rap, I mean I like Pharoahe Monch and I like Offset so I mean, is that weird? Why do you have to be one thing or into one thing or confined to one thing?” said the man who also goes by Freddie Forgiato.
“I thought that’s what hip-hop was tryna fight against. That’s what guys like Pimp C and guys like that were tryna fight against. They didn’t want all the radio and all of that stuff to be all east coast at that time, you know. I felt like they fought to get it more diverse and it’s like now, we kinda like did a 180.”
The full 52 minute interview can be heard below and throughout, the veteran MC speaks about originally wanting to be a football player, his (scary as all hell) trial in Austria after being wrongfully accused of rape, never even contemplating being a rapper, how he linked up with Madlib, his drug dealing days, working at Payless, adulthood shocking him, hating school and more.