The rapper/producer combo takes crime-rap to the next level
A person’s experience growing up has a lot to do with how they end up in the future. They can follow what they were doing and end up stagnant, or they can take that experience and make something of it. For Gary, Indiana rapper, Freddie Gibbs, he takes his experiences of hustling on the streets, retells these stories and demonstrates how they molded him. Some of those stories even speak on early moments of his career and how he had to even still go back to that life to get to where he is. From losing his deal with Interscope in 2006, causing the delay of his debut album to dropping one, even two, albums every year since 2013 (excluding 2016), Freddie Gibbs takes time to reflect in Alfredo.
With the help of West Coast producer, The Alchemist, Gibbs takes a refined approach on crime-rap and the stories that go along with them in soul, jazz and sample-infused beats. The album’s opener starts off with “1985.” The song includes an intro from the late Bernie Mac’s opening skit from the Last King’s of Comedy Tour. The skit is followed by an electric guitar progression, similar to a triumphant ending of a movie, with Gibbs rapping quickly over the slow tempo. It continues with “God Is Perfect.” The calmer piano focused track is taken over by Gibbs who switches flows about three different times during the beginning of the track.
“Look At Me” is the fourth track of the album. Sampling the 1975 song, “Look at Me (I’m in Love)” by the Moments, it’s the most fun song both sonically and lyrically. Between the opening interlude, the sample, the flow and the ending interlude, people feel as if they’re spiraling downward. According to Gibbs, the record was a “little comedic.” He tells Complex, “The album got its dark moments, so I think songs like “Look At Me” brighten it up and give it a little more fun.” Another track with a lighter sound is, “Something to Rap About” featuring Tyler, the Creator. With the piano as the heart of the track, it feels like a refreshing sound. It is in complete contrast to Gibbs’ heavy lyrics on crime and his involvement with drugs. Meanwhile, Tyler raps effortlessly over the beat with lyrics on his new fame, the path he took and his new take on wealth.
“Babies & Fools” featuring Conway the Machine, toys around with all the foolish things the two have done for the streets and not for their family. Gibbs even gets religious mentioning the Lord, hoping he watches over these said babies and fools. The production’s main focus is the sample, which is derived from Andrus, Blackwood & Company’s, “All of Me.” The most lyrically intense song, “Skinny Suge,” follows after. A slightly jazzy guitar main melody is the centerpiece of a gangsta rap-esque beat. Named after his Twitter pseudonym that was inspired by Death Row Records co-founder, Suge Knight, “Skinny Suge” details Gibbs relationship with drugs. Specifically of stories of him selling it and the effect it had. He mentions the unfortunate overdose of his uncle, his unintentional involvement and the aftermath. This really was a chance for Gibbs to reflect and be honest about what had happened. The track feels like a well needed vent session.
The final song, “All Glass,” is the perfect way to culminate such a hefty LP. The organs add a lightness and gives it a church feel which is what the pair was going for. For Gibbs he, “visualized” how it was going to go. “I got a visualization of a church and some stained glass because of the organs in the beat.” With the drugs he’s been surrounded by on his mental, he finishes off the LP with talk about him selling these drugs and the effects it had. While not completely negative, it still is a game he isn’t involved with and has been able to grow from.
Freddie Gibbs and the Alchemist’s biggest thing about the album was not trying to make it conceptual and they succeeded. Gibbs still maintain his drug/crime centered raps while Alchemist played around with sounds that Gibbs would like and placing them in the right places. Their previous collaborative, Fetti, that also includes rapper Curren$y, was the beginning. Their natural chemistry came together as they were able to bounce off of each other and learn. It seems that Alfredo is just the start of what they have to offer. Whatever comes after, will be even better.