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“The future started yesterday” is the opening line to Gibb’s original album single “Crushed Glass,” released on March 9th. After living in a jail for nearly half a year and seeing life from an omniscient perspective, this idea of time running out and yesterday’s decisions guiding today’s reality must be pertinent.
Freddie Gibbs, the Gary, Indiana native and Los Angeles transplant, is a talented and successful rapper. He’s been making waves in the industry since his 2009 official debut The Miseducation of Freddie Gibbs, which was a compilation of his work at that time. His style grapples themes like racial injustices, family troubles, and chronicles of selling drugs and avoiding police.
In his long string of self-incriminating evidence surrounding drug dealing in his songs, he was locked up last year on an unrelated charge, sexual assault.
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Rape is one of the most serious violations and crimes one can commit, and a facetious topic in the macho world of rap (remember Rick Ross on UOENO, “Put molly all in her champagne, she ain’t even know it / I took her home and I enjoyed that / She ain’t even know it”). Awful. Reebok dropped Rick Ross for that line.
In rap’s archetype, the rapper is the drug dealer, hustler, certified cool guy that doesn’t care about anyone else unless they’re helping said person make money. Sex is a common theme in rap music, and it is often glorified as a way to portray dominance.
Since it’s inception, rap has been the most authentic and didactic forms of artistic expression. It was birthed on inequality and the fight for justice. More and more, every form of revolution, change and progress is making its way into the rap world, including but not limited to the issues of sexism, patriarchy and social norms. (See Mac Miller’s The Divine Feminine, Ab-Soul’s God’s a Girl?, Frank Ocean’s Chanel).
The world is in an interesting place. There is major tension between the old way of life (nuclear family, traditional gender roles, and white male supremacy) and the advancement of humanity as a whole (equality, inclusivity, and the freedom of choice). We saw a Stanford student (a white male) rape an unconscious woman and get 3 months in jail. Something is in the water. That is not right, but at least people are beginning to (act like they) care.
Rape and consent are infinitely important, but there is a dark side to it. A friend of mine from Montana State University told me a story about a girl constantly flirting and suggesting towards a guy, and then accusing him of rape and getting him expelled. It is a touchy, difficult subject but it is real, both sides of the story.
In Gibb’s case, he was accused of something he didn’t do. He raps “I just beat a rape case, groupie b**** I never f*****/Tried to give me ten for some p**** that I never touched.” The issue of rape is serious, but we have to remember that there are two sides to every story.
This album is a long awaited, almost reincarnation of the newly resurrected Gibbs. It reminds me of Gucci Mane’s Everbody Looking, for it’s the first chance for the artist to go in after being locked up. It’s like when everything is taken away, and then given back, we get the realest, best product. The fall before the climb teaches the climber to climb higher.
The pervading theme of the album is coming home. What’s changed (friends who were lost, political unrest, social tension), and how the past helps us in the present and future. What we’ve been through prepares us for what we can do.
The 2Pac inspired spelling, and biblical, holy album cover solidifies the message on what he is.
From the first song 20 Karat Jesus to the final track Homesick, Gibbs gives us an honest reflection of his life and where he’s at right now. Thank God for getting this man out of the cell and back into the studio. He almost lost his life and freedom, but thankfully, You Only Live 2wice.