(Photo: Vince Bucci/Getty Images for Capitol)
The rap world, according to Gary, Indiana rapper Freddie Gibbs, is filled with too many copycat acts, unoriginal content and shady powerbrokers. The critically acclaimed rapper with a reputation for being an outspoken gangster rap disciple wants to bring some order back to the rap game. BET.com sat down with Gangsta Gibbs to talk about the state of hip hop, his future projects and how he plans to check irresponsible rappers.
You’ve often referenced Nate Dogg as someone you looked up to. What were your thoughts when you heard he passed?
It was a big deal, man. He was that gangsta R&B guy for us. He solidified what a hook was and had been doing his thing for years. It’s sad to see him go. It’s ridiculous. With all the money that gets spent in hip-hop, you’ve still got people having these medical issues. I just wish there could’ve been something done for a guy like Nate Dogg. I grew up on his music, had so many experiences with it.
Looking at the next generation, as someone who is an XXL Freshmen alumnus, what’d you think of this year’s crop?
Wow, I never thought that I would be an alumni. That’s love. With these guys, some of ‘em I like, some of ‘em I don’t. I felt the same way when I was on it. I think with a lot of guys that get on there, it’s political. I think I was one of the very few muhf---as that was on there with no politics. No label behind me. I think everything that I’m getting and all the notoriety I’m getting is all sheer skill. I ain’t paying nobody to come talk to me, I ain’t paying nobody to cover me. I’m not forcing my hand on the game, I’m just giving ya’ll what I think is supposed to be put out there and people are gravitating to it. I might not be on the radio or 106 & Park a million times like [Lil] Wayne or Drake or something like that, but I think I’m getting my message across, so that’s what’s most important to me.
What role do you think politics plays in those kinds of things?
A lot. The whole music game is political, man. It ain’t about who got the best music or who’s the best artist. It’s about who can kiss the most ass and who can pay the most. Sh-t, you can play something on TV or on the radio all day and brain wash a n---a, you know what I mean? It don’t gotta be necessarily dope or good. By whose standard? Why, because you paid for it to get there? Or you’ve got the relationships to get there? I mean, that’s cool. And I’m not knocking nobody else, so don’t get me wrong. What I’m saying is the mainstream that gets put out there is force-fed. I don’t think that it’s natural at all. It’s not about the things that people just love. Case in point: the Nate Doggs. They didn’t have to force feed you that on the radio. But it ain’t too much real music no more, man. Everything’s fast food. I was talkin’ to somebody the other day about people in other countries and how they hold onto their artists. In America, we treat people like trash. We want a new phone in three months, and we want the new rapper every three months. I just got the iPhone 4, but by the end of the year I want the iPhone 9. It’s like that with rappers. People want a new ni--a every three months. That sh-t is wack, man.
Tell us about your EP Str8 Killa. That album was a long time coming. Is there anything about the album or the process you would’ve changed?
Oh not at all. I got mad high and made raps with that, man. I ain’t trippin’ at all. That’s my job and I’m sticking to it. I ain’t mad at all. I put the EP out and that’s what I wanted to do at the time. I hadn’t physically sold anything, so that was the main goal with that. And as I grow and progress, it’ll keep selling and doing its thing. For me, man, I just want to put sh-t out when I want to put it out and how I want to put it out. I ain’t with the authority or the politics.
You’ve also put out a few mixtapes. A lot of rappers today don’t see a distinction between a mixtape and an album.
And that’s the part of music that’s f---ed up. A lotta these mixtapes is f---ed up. It devalues the album. I remember when you really just wanted to grab someone’s album, and now it’s like you’ve gotta have the mixtape set-up album or whatever. It’s stupid, man. For me, I just like to put out my music. I treat every project the same, whether it’s a mixtape or an album. I give it the same attention, the same energy.
What are you working on right now? What’s next for you?
I’m working on a secret album with a producer that I can’t tell you about; I’m working on Babyfaced Killa, that’s the proper solo LP. And I might put out a street album called Cold Day in Hell. But Babyfaced Killa, that’s the sh-t that people need to focus on. I’m f---in with some new people, some well-known people. It’s going down, man. I’ve got big things in store for myself in 2011, 2012.
Which one’s first? Babyfaced Killa?
Nah, that’s going to be the big kabang, the big doodoo on the game. That’s gonna be like me pulling the draws down and sh---in’ on everybody. I’m probably gonna put out Cold Day in Hell first, and then that secret album I was telling you about that I can’t tell you about.
So who can you tell us about that you’re working with?
I’m working with Bun B. That’s about all I can say. I’ll keep it at that.
Speaking of Bun, you started a new rap supergroup, Pulled Over By the Cops, with Bun and The Cool Kids. Tell us about that.
Hell yeah. Man, I’m trying not to get pulled over by the cops! I get pulled over by the cops all the time, so I don’t know why we named it that. Now I’m jinxed.
Who came up with the name?
I don’t know. We all get high, man [laughs]. But Bun and Cool Kids are my people. I’m working with K.R.I.T. right now, too. We just knocked out a record. I dissed a couple rappers on there. I’m about to regulate the game, dog. The game needs regulation.
Anyone in particular who needs some straightening out?
Everybody needs some straightening out. Everybody needs for Freddie Gibbs to come tap them on the shoulder and tell them about theyself [laughs]. If a rapper is being corny, we’ll let him live. Unless he starts getting super corny, then we gonna be like ‘Yo, man! You need to stop that.’ I’ll voice my opinion. And my opinion is my opinion-- if you don’t like it then whatever. I’m not out here to hurt nobody. I don’t know none of these guys personally, so I don’t have no personal problem. I’m not tryin’ to f--k their mother or their wife or go kill their family or no sh-t like that. They don’t want to go to that level with me. But I can comment on the music. I’m a fan. But you’ve got guys that take offense to that and want to show how hard they is and then they get their ass whooped by a n---a from Gary and they don’t know what hit ‘em.
Why do you think your peers need that tough love?
It’s always love, but the game need regulation right now. Rap is so out of hand. These white kids is laughing at us, for real. This sh-t is a joke right now. They looking at us like, damn. We tattooing dumb shit on our face. We looking bad right now, and not just as rappers, but as black men period. For real. We got a whole generation of kids that’s looking up to us and listening to our music. Yeah we rap about our past and our experiences and the things we’ve done—and some of that sh-t is vulgar and crazy, I agree. But at the same time, I think we still have to deliver some type of message and social commentary for the kids. You’ve gotta have some type of intelligence about yourself. It can’t just be all this ignorant sh-t all the time. Of course we want to have fun and do what we do, but at the same time I’ve gotta look in the mirror. I’ve got a younger brother and younger cousins and I want to be a success story for people where I’m from. I don’t want to rap and get rich and then five years later go to jail. What the f--k is that? That’s stupid. Why would I get myself imprisoned when I’m making millions of dollars? I think a lot of these n---as go to jail and start doing this bullsh-t because they didn’t live that life before. It’s like they’re using the rap card to get into some of that sh-t. A lot of us take for granted what this rap sh-t has given to us. It’s supposed to provide a way out. I probably wouldn’t have made it if it wasn’t for rap. For me, there’s no telling what I would be doing if I wasn’t doing this.
If you ran the radio station, what song would you pull out of rotation?
I would play Freddie Gibbs and nothing else [laughs]. Nah, I would just give variety. You don’t have to force feed me with a hundred spins a day of the new Drake song. It’s cool, but I want to hear other things as well. You don’t gotta play my sh-t, but I do want to hear other people. I might want to hear the new Erykah Badu. I already heard the got damn Lil Wayne song 10 times today. I don’t want to hear that sh*t when I just heard it. It’s love, I’m not hatin’. I just want to see more variety. But that’s the radio game right now, man. It’s payola. It’s so pathetic that it shines through. We can see that some people are paying for these spins. I’m not knocking the hustle, but I’m just speaking as a music listener. I don’t want to hear the same song or see the same video. And y'all don’t even play videos anymore. Y'all only play videos for an hour, so they can have that hour. That’s the Wayne and Drake hour. That’s the Jimmy Iovine [chairman of Interscope Records] and all the Interscope guys hour. But I’m not trippin’, man Me not being within that world helps me to stand out. So I don’t give a f--k. The game’s lacking originality, I think. So I’m just sticking true to me. I’m going to be saying f--k the police and smoking weed all day. My message ain’t going to change. I’m keeping it gangsta.
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