Last year was Freddie Gibbs’ first without a mixtape or album release due to legal issues overseas. Although the rape accusations brought against him proved to be false, Gibbs still lost nearly a year of his career, taking a toll on him. With his focus turned back to music, he has decided to reflect on the past couple of years and share some of his wisdom with his newest project.
Gibbs began his career in 2003, coming out of Indiana and drawing attention for his technical hip-hop abilities combined with his embrace of a variety of styles. Originally signed to Interscope in 2006 but dropped after the label changed hands, Gibbs struggled to break out into the mainstream again, dropping six mixtapes in a span of three years, a level of output that lived with him until his brief hiatus in 2016. With the release of his debut album, Gibbs’ name became one of the most talked about in hip hop, but it wasn’t until he paired up with Madlib for Piñata, a gritty display of both hip hop’s pure essence and the talent of both individual artists. With his latest release You Only Live 2wice, Gibbs finds himself focusing in on trap and gangsta rap in a surprisingly easy and enjoyable listen.
You Only Live 2wice is much more straightforward than the seminal Piñata. Clocking in at 32 minutes, this is quite a brief record for an artist that sometimes values quantity over quality. However, that doesn’t mean 2wice is not worth lending your ears to — Gibbs asserts himself in a series of impressive tracks on the LP, kicking off with “20 Karat Jesus,” a song that discusses his old cocaine habit and court issues. The song breaks down into two separate parts, and the beat switch on this record is second to none.
After the album’s impressive opener, Gibbs chooses to go in a completely different direction with a jazz-infused trap beat produced by BADBADNOTGOOD and KAYTRANADA, two of the premier production names in the business. The song acts as a bit of yang to the yin of the opening track, standing out amongst a sea of impressive songs because of its jazzy and mellow production style.
Gibbs’ bars on this record are the most consistent element of the listen, with ice-cold lines littering each track with Gibbs’ well-developed, unhinged personality. Whether it’s running from the FBI, trafficking drugs or doing everything a man could imagine possible with money, the content of each song seems to bound from one topic to another in a manic manor, often times to his detriment. The album’s lead single “Crushed Glass” is a straightforward discussion of the rape allegations Gibbs faced, but he never seems to gain any ground on the issue. He just dances around, saying he’s free but never explaining anything. Later on “Amnesia,” he jumps to a broad rap about hip-hop’s money problem, bragging about how he doesn’t have to purchase his cars
Overall, You Only Live 2wice suffers from the modern epidemic of passable albums. It’s a fun listen, and warrants a revisit, but it’s not an album that is going to break through and become a regular on most hip-hop heads’ queues. If Gibbs’ previous work tickled your fancy, then this album will more than fill your cravings. Otherwise, it’s another searing reminder of how badly we all want another