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While the mainstream music world may only know Gary, Indiana for producing The Jackson family (Michael, Jermaine, Janet etc.) it's been a long time since any new talent from the city has sprung up and brought life to a place which was completely changed by the events of the 'Crack Era'. However, 2010 saw that a new act immerged with the potential to do just that and he went by the name of Freddie Gibbs. In summer 2010 he released his début EP, "Str8 Killa". With it, he was finally able to let his music out to the wider world, after only receiving attention for the many mixtapes he dropped in the time when he was getting his name out. The release sits as a taster of what he prepares to do with his full-length first album; reflecting the course that Drake took when building up the hype towards putting out 'the most anticipated Hip Hop album of 2010'.
Gary is essential new ground when it comes to Hip Hop. Gibbs attended all-black schools as he grew and was exposed to a way of life with little diversity or aspiration. As a result of this he's not really competitive in his immediate surroundings, but must prove himself as one of many coming up with inspiration coming from the sounds of those which were played most prominently in his area. Early OutKast, N.W.A and 2Pac are all apparent in what he does and with this 8-track EP he wishes to prove he'd got what it takes to stand above the others.
Although the 'ghost town' that is Gary may not have any other known Rap talent, Gibbs raps in a manner which shows that he's not about to be lost in a place which doesn't see any real attention in the first place. He seems hungry at all times and by the intensity of the opening track this becomes immediately clear. He's not prepared to be represented by anything other than 'killa' music and so don't expect to find any hints of 'filla' within the release.
Gibbs doesn't ever lose focus with this short release and still manages to come out with a fair degree of variation. He really embraces his Cali influences when he hooks up with Jay Rock on "Rep 2 tha Fullest", but then still has what's necessary to just chill when he doesn't need to come across as although he's always in his 'Gangsta Gibbs' persona. He goes from raw street tales to intensely political cuts like "National Anthem" and wonders how exactly cities such as his could get so deflected as the rest of the nation progressed towards further greatness. He seems quite desperate to get his messages out there in a 'Pac-like way and although his laid-back twang may not make this too obvious, you don't come across too many relative unknowns with as much talent.
If the music had to be described, then it seems as though what's found in the artist's music is a mixture of the Trap-Rap style out of Atlanta (such as Gucci Mane or Young Jeezy) with the smoky Southern pimp style that was found on OutKast's début album and much of UGK's discography. It's no surprise then that one of his most well-known mixtapes is called "midwestgangstaboxframecadillacmuzik" (derived from "southernplayalisticadillacmuzik"), that "Person OG" interpolates the hook from Pimp C's "Pourin' Up" and that Bun B features on two of the tracks. Further mentions of musical likeness come from the often-innovative Chicago-Detroit Midwest area to give this a feeling of newness.
Reading some of his lyrics, it may come across as though he's a little naive, but his delivery and tone shows he's got a great awareness to what exactly he's doing. Every time he speaks on how everything seems to be going against him, in fact its more down to a lack of governmental attention to leave things in such a state and he's fully-aware of this. It makes for a refreshing listen and it sets him aside from the other up-and-comers from the late '00s early '10s. Speaking of these - Chuck Inglish of The Cool Kids turns up on the final track with Chip the Ripper. When juxtaposed together, Gibbs' talent clearly outshines the efforts of his peers. Jay Rock and even veteran Bun B are unable to catch up with him on their appearances and it could even be said that they prevent this EP from being an utterly flawless one.
Impressive is what exactly this EP is. The 28-year-old came into the game mature and the results of the release are just that. He's able to do a lot with it and seems ahead of the times on each occasion where he follows another MC. It's hard to fault his performance here as he's clearly got what's needed to eventually create for a potential classic Hip Hop album. Here he's able to experiment and see where exactly he needs work and it seems as though he's got the perfect beats and certainly has the rhymes and so if he just limits the features or chooses them more carefully he'll be able to do just as OutKast's 1994 record did.
1. "Str8 Killa No Filla" (feat. Big Kill) **Five Stars**
2. "Rep 2 tha Fullest" (feat. Jay Rock) **Five Stars**
3. "National Anthem" (F**k the World) **Five Stars**
4. "The Coldest" (feat. B.J. the Chicago Kid)
5. "Personal OG" **Five Stars**
6. "Live By the Game" **Five Stars**
7. "Rock Bottom" (feat. Bun B) **Four Stars**
8. "Oil Money" (feat. Chuck inglish, Chip the Ripper, Bun B and Dan Auerbach) **Four Stars**