To classify Freddie Gibbs as “real” is to oversimplify what the Gary, Indiana product represents. Yes, Gangsta Gibbs earned the “real” title by spitting raw street tales that remind the rest of us we’re lucky to not have a problem with the man. But there’s much more to Freddie than that. When you listen to his music, you’ll find much more than hard beats to complement hard rhymes. You’ll find a man who knows what it’s like to experience first-hand the ups and downs of life and is constantly striving to make things better for himself and his family, which is consistent with the true definition of what it means to be real.
After a stint at Interscope that left Gibbs without a major album, one would think that would be all she wrote for the MC. Despite industry setbacks, Freddie stayed true to his roots, picking himself up and getting back into the studio to do what he does best. After conquering his frustration and applying the tools he gained at Interscope, Freddie has reemerged with Str8 Killa No Filla, his first official release that’s sure to please longtime fans while gaining new followers. Gangsta Gibbs sat down with HipHopGame to talk about his new project, what he gained from Interscope and how he became a better MC.
Str8 Killa No Filla is out now. What did you go through putting this project together?
It was a pretty relaxed process. I just sat back and did what I wanted to do. It was a real easy process. It was cool. I just got to sit back and make music I wanted to make and say what I wanted to say. I got the beats I wanted to rap on and worked with my friends. It was a cool process. I was able to take it in the direction I wanted to. There was nobody over my shoulder telling me what to make. There was no pressure from anybody at all.
Is that the first time you’ve had that situation since you were coming up?
Nah, I’ve always had that. When I signed my deal at Interscope, I couldn’t exhaust those freedoms. I was doing what I wanted to do. It just wasn’t what fit at the time.
Do you have any regrets over that situation?
No, not at all. I made some good friends over at Interscope and in the industry and I recorded a lot and got better at making music. It just added to my structure.
It’s good to hear it didn’t slow you down.
At one point it probably did. I was bitter but you gotta grow up. I just had to open my eyes to what was real.
Did you ever consider quitting?
Yeah, definitely. I definitely considered not doing it at all. I didn’t want to deal with it. But God done put this on me and He wants me to use my talent. I didn’t want to let it go to waste.
What was it like working with Bun B on this?
It was cool, man. It was real cool. He’s one of my heroes in the game so it was a great experience. You don’t usually get that in this game. It was a real good experience.
How do you feel when you hear comparisons to Bun B?
It’s like an honor. I just look at it like hopefully I can make it to his level one day.
How do you approach working with a legend like Bun B?
It’s easy for me. I see what he brings to the track and I do my thing or if I lay my verse first I can anticipate what he’s going to do and I bring my A game, which I do anyway, whether I’m working with Bun B or Paul McCartney. It’s all love.
You’re switching up your flows more, especially on “National Anthem.” Is that one of the areas you’ve grown in recently?
Yeah, definitely. Definitely. As an artist and as an MC, I’m learning how to use my abilities in different ways to pretty much put me in a different zone than any other rapper.
How did you go about improving like that?
Just practice and doing a lot of music, doing a lot of songs and trying a lot of different things but not reaching out of your zone or beyond your ability.
Were you channeling Bone Thugs on “National Anthem”?
Oh, I definitely came up on Bone Thugs’ music so you can probably hear some of that influence within my music. That was definitely something that I was raised on.
Coming up in Gary, Indiana, what regions did you look to for music?
We’re looking at the Cleveland and Chicago scene, Michigan and the Dayton Family. That’s who we bumped.
Who were your favorite rappers growing up?
2Pac, Scarface, Twista, definitely Bone Thugs. Ice Cube. The Geto Boys was my shit. I liked Too Short.
Fans have categorized your music as gangsta rap. How do you feel about that?
It’s definitely that.
Being that subgenre hasn’t been as popular in the mainstream as other subgenres of hip-hop, why do you think you’ve been able to break through?
Gangsta rap hasn’t been the same because the gangsta rap that’s been coming out recently has been fake. It’s been movie shit. If I want to watch a movie I’ll go pop in Scarface. There’s been nobody to solidify the “genre” of gangsta rap because the people can’t feel it. When N.W.A came out, the people could feel it. A lot of this shit is about things that are unattainable. It’s not real.
How are fans able to tell the difference between what’s real and what’s not?
You just gotta feel it and listen to the dude and see where he’s coming. With the internet now, you can check everybody’s background now. If you ain’t got nothing to hide, it’s all good.
Are you able to tell the difference between what’s real and what’s fake?
Yeah, especially if the dude is saying outlandish things like he’s got a thousand kilos of cocaine or he knows Noriega or something like that. You know it ain’t real. It’s cool. It’s quite entertaining, but it’ll just be that. It won’t be anything that changes the make up of rap or really sparks the genre. It doesn’t educate. It just entertains.
What do you want people to get from your music?
I want to educate in some form or fashion and just have fun at the same time and keep it 100. Right now, I’m just trying to introduce the people to me and give them a piece of who I am and give them my outlook on life, pretty much.
You were named an XXL Freshman to watch after you had been grinding for years. Was that overdue?
It was all timing. I think it came when it was supposed to come. I was grinding but maybe I wasn’t ready earlier. I had to step my game up a lot and I was able to really put in the time to build myself up to that point. I think it came at the right time.
What did that do for you?
It’s been good. The people over there at XXL showed me love and they didn’t have to do that. I was probably the only unsigned guy on the cover. They didn’t have to put me on there. A lot of people think I paid to be on there and things of that nature but it was nothing of the sort. They just respected the music and they respected what I was doing. I was honored.
You still remember who gave you your first interview, right?
HipHopGame, baby! [Click here to read the interview from 2007]
No doubt. Back then, you were still putting together your first mixtape Live From Gary. How do you feel hearing that today?
It’s cool. You can hear the growth between the old music and the new music. It’s cool. I feel like I’m getting better and I’ve gotten way better since then.
You went through Decon for St8 Killa No Filla. What kind of a deal do you want next?
I just want the best situation for me and my family. I can keep doing it this way or hit the other route if the other route is suitable for my needs and my wants. I’m just going to keep on making music and stay focused on that. No matter how I gotta put it out, indie or major, it’s coming out.
After the Interscope situation, are you less likely to work with a major?
I don’t know. Yeah, probably so. I’m probably less likely, but if a situation presents itself, I’ll take it. But I’m not caught up on it. I’m not waking up every morning trying to get a record deal. I’m just trying to progress in my career and get better as an artist.
If we talk a year from now, what do you want to be going on with your career?
I want to be considered the best in the game a year from now. I can do that too. I think it’s attainable. I think it’s reachable. I don’t think nobody raps like how I rap. I can do it.
You’ve done a lot of collabs lately. How do you decide what collabs you’ll do?
If I’m feeling it or I fuck with the person or if I like the record, all of that factors in. If I don’t fuck with the person or the business ain’t right or I don’t like the record, nine times out of 10 I ain’t doing the record. Those are all things that affect it.
Do you ever worry about spreading yourself too thin?
Yeah, you’re right about that. I don’t do too many. I don’t think I’m out there too-too much. I don’t think I make the same moves that everybody else does. I’m not really worried about over-saturating myself. I think the features that I choose are a unique type of thing.
What have been your favorite collabs that you’ve done so far?
That’s a good question. I collabed with a lot of good people. I just did some shit with Mikkey Halsted and No I.D. that I really love.
What kind of talent is coming from Gary?
You should be looking for me! (laughs) There’s definitely a lot of good gangsta rap coming from Gary. There’s Sani G and D Edge and my homies Thugged Out. I got a lot of homies that are doing their thing.