12 October, 2012@9:45 pm
Gary, Indiana’s Freddie Gibbs returns with Baby Face Killa, which doubles as both his new Gangsta Grillz mixtape, and an indie album debut, available on iTunes without the added flair from DJ Drama. After signing with Young Jeezy’s CTE imprint, one might expect Gibbs to release a tape full of trap anthems and freestyles over the hottest beats, yet BFK defies expectation. Instead, Gibbs has crafted an incredibly solid album, one that could be later seen as classic, if his career were to end suddenly for any given reason.
Aside from Gibbs’ razor sharp delivery and incredibly visual lyrics, what makes this project such a strong piece of work is the unified sound it carries throughout. It is clear that when Gibbs picked these individual beats, he was looking at the entire mosaic that would later be Baby Face Killa, rather than concerning himself with churning out a “hit record”. The sound of BFK is dark, laid back, brooding, with one track bleeding into the next. It’s a slow burn, one that gets better with each listen, that presents Gibbs as equal parts thug and poet. His mantra is summed up in one brilliant line on the album’s title track, “Got a slug for the judge, bringin’ heat for police / And a book full of sins that I read when I sleep / Then I wake up ‘n I put ‘em on a beat.” These kinds of poignant lyrical gems are all over the album, buried in between occasionally run-of-the-mill hooks, balancing the street and scholarly appeal.
The album’s first vingnette sets the stage perfectly, beginning with the aforementioned “BFK”, following with each “Still Livin’”, “MCH”, and “The Hard”, a series of tracks that trades coming out the gate guns blazing for slow rolling with a Cadillac lean. This super chilled out vibe carries throughout the extent of the album, matching Gibbs’ equally cool persona. Gibbs also has a knack for creating simplistic, yet hypnotic hooks, on tracks like “Bout It Bout It” or “Boxframe Cadillac”, which you just can’t help but sing along to.
While Gibbs dominates the mic, there are a strong amount of guest appearances throughout. Jadakiss and Jay Rock appear on the gorgeous “Krazy”, helmed by Statik Selektah, while Young Jeezy ponders “The dealer or the user, who’s really the addict?” Even Krayzie Bone made us do a double-take at the tracklist, after commandeering “Kush Cloud”, as does Problem on “On Me”. Everybody seemed to bring their A-game when competing friendlily with right said Fred.
Freddie Gibbs just might be the midwest’s answer to a Biggie or Jay-Z. Like them, he’s aware of his bad-guy persona, but has such a talent for channelling it into his pen, that you can’t help but beg for more. The brilliance of Baby Face Killa might not hit you at first, but upon repeated listens, it becomes more and more clear that Gibbs may have released the best street-album of the year.
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