Freddie Gibbs #BFK mixtape review
On a handful of occasions I’ve closed my eyes and listened to a Freddie Gibbs verse as if I was listening to the next Kool G Rap. Someone who would redefine tough talk for a new generation; that’s a great vision but G Rap never had to refine who he was on record or what his “sound”was. In an era of good time party rap and consciousness he slurred and stuttered his way into immortality by being the only one in his lane, never even taking a glance behind him.
Unlike G Rap, Mr. Gibbs doesn’t have that thing. Some of the complaints that have been made about Gibbs tough guy subject matter wearing thin (my review of his Cold Day in Hell mixtape harped on this) have to do with this. You can rap about the same two things for twenty years as long as you’re doing it at a high level, an audience will listen; as long as you feel important to the listener. He doesn’t have a naturally spellbinding voice or delivery but on his new mixtape #BFK (Baby Face Killa) he finds ways to make the sum of his musical parts more than they are individually. With vast improvements in so many areas, he begs the question of how important that thing really is.
The philosophy of his approach is exactly the same, #BFK is defined by an unapologetic attitude, for example, “I want a girl with extensions in her hair, skin tight pants, muff print, no underwear (Walk in Wit the M.O.).”He doesn’t care if any of this offends you, and makes sure that the serious songs are exactly that. The Hard is an example of a song about making crack that isn’t jovial or triumphant. He talks about the dopehouse being his college the same way he talks about having weed and waffles for breakfast, swimming through a bleak, spooky world helped in major ways by a great vocal guest performance by Dana Williams and wonderfully scary Halloween beat by Feb. 9. As great as songs like The Hard are it’s not an easy universe to live in for the full duration of an 18 song opus.
Maybe the most interesting thing about #BFK is how catchy it is. Freddie can still blind you with double time flow and speed changes but the chorus’s are an unexpected upgrade. Bout It Bout It, Money Clothes Hoes (MCH), and Stay Down are as catchy as anything anyone has done all year. Sometimes Guests help like Kirko Bangz on Bout It Bout It but Stay Down and MCH are just him and never stay far from a playlist.
The production is spread out amongst many and not many big names. Statik Selektah and Cookin’ Soul present respectably but the most interesting beats are DJ Dahi and Feb. 9 who seem to have the best grasp on the exact bounce to bubbling terror ratio #BFK needs. This tape is loaded with guests from Curren$y, Krayzie Bone, Jadakiss, Young Jeezy, Slick Pulla, and on and on. None feel out of place. Freddie shows a keen ability to pick up where his guests left off without mirroring them, and to lead to the extent that every song feels lik
Is it perfect? Of course not. My N#$%A feels like a reminder of songs that are better, Middle of The Night is a straight up train wreck you should force yourself through once and never after. Wayne Blazed gives the kind of terrible R&B Chorus no project needs and Gibbs sex talk is little more than a promise to break his lovers spine with pure sexual force. Nothing you’d put on a Valentines Day card.
As well as the Jeezy assisted 17 works, its unloved sibling Go For It Go For It feels fairly lifeless. These two are still working on chemistry.
After listening to #BFK again and again I came to the ultimate conclusion that Gibbs is better on this than any other project because he stopped thinking, stopped trying to fit in. He rhymes about Bo Jackson, drugs, loyalty and whatever comes to mind. He doesn’t make any apologies for it or take any steps back. Some MC’s are meant to explore their contradictions. I think Gibbs was meant to spit and let us figure it out.
Stream or download Baby Face Killa below