If you haven't already picked up a copy of this week's LA Weekly, make a beeline. The cover story is about LA-via-Gary-Indiana rapper Freddie Gibbs, who's considered by some to be one of the best rappers, signed or unsigned, going today.
The feature, written by regular LA Weekly contributor Jeff Weiss, relays Gibbs' incredibly compelling story, and then some. Read it here.
"My uncle went from a king to a fiend, before he got murdered," Gibbs laments. "I watched him rob to pay for his habit. He was constantly locked up or in rehab. I once asked how he went from selling to smoking it. He said he'd been chasing that first great high for the last eight years."
Though his uncle's death steered him away from crack, it also forced Gibbs to confront concrete realities and left him with a simmering rage. "I learned how easy it was to kill. I developed the instinct that if someone fucked with me, I'd take care of them."
It's that instinct that helps to make him one of the most compelling hard-core rappers in recent memory. In a genre haunted by studio gangsters, Gibbs' integrity is unimpeachable. Like all the consecrated gangsta icons -- 2Pac, Scarface, Biggie -- Gibbs sketches the shadowy interplay of light and dark with a sober eye and clouded head, careful neither to glamorize nor exaggerate, and always wrestling with capital-letter issues: blood, dirt, death, etc. There's an oxidized honesty that makes asking interview questions seem a bit stupid. The answers are there if you listen.
Though Gibbs is, as of this writing, unsigned, he's releasing mixtapes that are reaching the right ears, and we've got them.
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Download three different Freddie Gibbs mixtapes after the jump.