Freddie Gibbs – ‘Shadow Of A Doubt’

The Indiana rapper looks back on his troubled past on an awesomely gritty third album

On November 4 2014, someone tried to shoot Indiana rapper Freddie Gibbs while he was sitting in his car outside the Rough Trade record shop in New York.

“They tried to kill Tupac. They tried to kill me. But I’m still living,” Gibbs told the //New York Post// outside the Brooklyn building. Asked why someone might want to kill him he responded, simply: “I’m Freddie Gibbs.”

The incident feeds into Gibbs’ third album, which has the 33-year-old glancing back with gritty honesty at a gangsta life he thought he’d escaped, but still seems tangled in.

After growling into action with the menacing ‘Rearview’, on ‘F***in’ Up The Count’ he wonders if this life was always his destiny: “//Freddie, where your bills at? Teacher told me to get a job, I said ‘where the scale at?’//”. And on the even darker ‘Extradite’, a track reminiscent of jazzy experimental producer Flying Lotus, he asks: “//Trying to understand why I want to kill a man/ Ever seen a dead body in the streets then eat breakfast?//”. The pace drops later with the autotuned double-header of ‘Lately’ and ‘Basketball Wives’, but the overall impression is a bruising one.

Last year, on his second album ‘Piñata’, Gibbs struck up a powerful alchemy with cult Californian producer Madlib. The beats were versatile – synthy prog, R&B funk – and it went deep on Gibbs’ hustler narrative (its original title was ‘Cocaine Piñata ‘). ‘Shadow Of A Doubt’ is darker, more introspective and subtler, thanks to a cast of producers including Kanye West collaborator Mike Dean, Drake and Nicki Minaj fave Boi-1da. Or, as Gibbs says: “‘Piñata’ was like I went in the gym with Madlib to train. Now I’m ready to box, like Apollo Creed.” The resulting album is a total knockout.