If you haven’t heard about the new Freddie Gibbs album, you’re on the wrong part of the Internet. Together with L.A. music wizard Madlib, Gibbs has finally dropped Cocaine Piñata, a album three years in the making. We can confidently say its one of hardest gangsta rap albums of 2014.
When we caught up with Gibbs on the phone, he was coming off a night-long celebration of the album’s release. He sounded relaxed, somewhere between happy and hungover. He was candid about his time at CTE, insisting that he wasn't running a ‘Fuck Jeezy’ campaign. He talked about his smoking habits and talking females with Madlib in the studio.Gibbs also expanded on his forthcoming album, Eastside Slim. This guy doesn't stop working.
VIBE: I saw you tweet ‘Classic. Check.’ the other day. It’s crazy to see how far your career has come to make it to this point.
Freddie Gibbs: A lot of people wrote me off with the whole Jeezy shit. They thought I was just a mediocre rapper, and I wanted to get out of the zone of people saying that. They were only saying I was a mediocre rapper because I’m from Gary, Indiana. If I was from L.A. or New York or something, they’d be calling me a rap god.
I rap better than all these niggas in L.A. I rap way better than all these niggas in New York. I rap way better than any nigga in Atlanta. I rap way better than any nigga in Miami. Give me another five, six years of full throttle, and I could be just as good as Jay-Z, rapper wise. I think I’m almost up there with him right now as far as lyrical talent. I want to be considered one of the best. I think I’ve established that with this album in terms of whose got the best wordplay and who’s a real street nigga. There hasn’t been a rapper like me in a long time.
Was there any one incident that acted as the straw that broke the camel’s back with Young Jeezy?
Just a lot of lying. A lot of, 'We about to do this' type of shit. You can’t stand next to a nigga that boldface lied to you like a bitch. For a man to treat you like a bitch? I’m not gonna sit there and get treated like no bitch. I watched the nigga treat his homies like a bitch, and I wasn’t about to be no bitch for that nigga or no flunky. I was one of the only niggas around [CTE] who had his own movement, had his own money, had his own shit goin’ on when I started fuckin’ with them. Everybody else was just waiting on Jeezy to feed ‘em but I ain’t that nigga. I’m talking about literally waiting on this nigga to feed them hand to mouth. I can’t do that shit.
I told these niggas, we need to do this or that. I donno if [Jeezy] thought I’d quarterback the rest of these CTE niggas but that ain’t what I came over there for. I came to establish my career and do what I had to do. I can’t respect certain shit. Certain niggas get walked on but I won’t get walked on.
Is there any point you want to arrive at by going at Jeezy now?
Hell na, I don’t give a fuck. It’s just how I felt at the time when I went in the booth. That nigga definitely not that important to me at all. I ain’t got no contract or no red tape or money [issue]. It’s just some personal shit, how I feel about a nigga I lost respect for. This ain’t the ‘Fuck Jeezy’ campaign, I could care less. The day I made that song, that was how I felt. So I’m not about to take it off the album. Too many niggas in the rap game right now are too politically correct. How I feel, I’ma say that. I might feel like dissing another rapper this week.
At the end of the day, [‘Real’] is good music. I was in a situation with him so I spoke on it. If I had a god damn issue with another rapper, I’d say ‘Fuck that nigga’ too. I could care less about that nigga. I’m just a young black entrepreneur trying to get where I need to be.
I’d be a liar if I said I didn’t learn anything from Jeezy. I picked up some things on how to be a boss, and I’m not gonna lie about that shit. He definitely carried himself like a boss and he did some boss shit, not all the boss shit he was supposed to do, but I took some of those traits and some of that game. If I was around him and didn’t pick up any game, that’d be stupid on my part, to be around the nigga all day and not absorb any knowledge. I learned a lot, I ain’t no hater, but I also learned a lot about what not to do.
Being such an outspoken rapper, do you ever weigh the possible consequences of retaliation, especially in light of talent we’ve lost in the past?
Not really, because I grew up with real guys trying to kill me every day, so I don’t really worry about no motherfucking rapper. Rapper niggas…they wanna rap. At the end of the day, these niggas don’t want no violence. They wanna rap, do their show, make their money and go home. Don’t nobody in the rap game wana kill nobody, Pimp C already told y’all that. These niggas don’t wanna fight nobody.
I’m not trying to aggravate nobody to get them to come fight me, but if I feel you did some pussy shit, I’ll speak on it. If you wanna fight, we’ll go there. But these niggas is rappers, and at the end of the day everyone wants to go home safe. I’m not worried about any physical retaliation. I’m not worried about no man on God’s green earth harming me because I move in a respectful manner and guys everywhere fuck with me.
The only thing is when you speak your mind, it makes people scared of you. People don’t want to fuck with you. I don’t really give a fuck about that either. I’m at the point where I’ve established a fanbase and I’ve got a good amount of people that will support me regardless. That’s what this whole thing is built off of, me being me. I won’t say nothing ignorant. I’m an educated individual. Niggas might say I’m the Richard Sherman of the rap game. I’m top five dead or alive.
Tell me about the process of recording Piñata with Madlib. Did you two get in the studio?
Yeah a couple times, but most of the times he was just sending me beats and I’d pick through ‘em. New batches, old batches. Gang of shit.
The thing about this album that makes it so special is I recorded it over the course of three years. You see when I’m still grinding, like when I first started recording this album I was still selling cocaine. Toward the end I was getting more established in the rap game, got the [XXL] Freshmen Cover, so my life started changing. I sort of grew up with this album and the music grew and lived with me. I made Cold Day In Hell, Baby Face Killa and ESGN during the course of Piñata so I’d just put that on hold for a bit and then come back to it.
The first song I did was ‘Thuggin’ and the second one I did was ‘Shitsville.’ Once I did those two songs, I knew I was on the road to making an album. I tried to get Jay-Z on ‘Shitsville’ but he didn’t hit my line back.
On Baby Face Killa you went a little bit out of your comfort zone with a Kirko Bangz feature, a DJ Dahi beat, etc. Were you shooting for radio?
Na, not really. I just wanted to work with people I felt I could do good music with. I don’t think about the mainstream, the radio, none of that shit. I just make music. There are guys that got bangers and hits but they’re not in the studio like, “I needa make a banger.” My favorite song right now is that Rich Homie Quan [‘Man Of The Year.’] I love that song. Different rappers got different talents, It’s like X-Men. Every nigga ain’t gonna be the same. People gotta respect that shit.
I’m sick of people recently comparing me to YG. I love YG music. When I first met YG around the time he was first fucking with CTE, I told him, ‘Man, when I first heard that ‘Toot It And Boot It’ shit, I ain’t fuck with that shit. This was a real conversation. I kept it real with him, I told him, ‘I respect your grind, your new music is fire, you found your lane and I was wrong about your music. You got West Coast shit going on. That’s love.’ I dapped that nigga up and it’s been love ever since.
Niggas think I got an issue with [YG] because of Jeezy shit. That’s two totally different situations, my nigga. That’s like two players coming to a team and he doing his shit with the team but I got a contract dispute with the team. Niggas need to quit making it seem like I got an issue with YG. I live in L.A. my nigga. I ain’t got no bodyguard. I see YG, I see all these niggas.
Now that you’ve released the album with Madlib, are you leaning towards working with single producers on future albums?
Maybe. Not yet. I don’t wanna whore myself out like that to niggas who just want to do a project with me because they want to do it. I want to be real selective about it. Niggas I fuck with. Madlib, Statik Selektah of course. Those are my homies. And Alchemist, I’m still waiting to get in with him.
I have to ask, since you mentioned his name. What’s the status of the album with Alchemist, Devil’s Palace?
I don't know, bro, you gotta ask Alchemist about that shit. I just been trying to get in the studio with him. If I can get in the studio with him for a week, I’ll make that shit happen. I want to get him on my Eastside Slim album. I’m about 80% done with that. [Eastside Slim] is gonna turn a lot of heads. It’s definitely way different from the Madlib shit. It’s more stories on this record, I’d say.
I just worked with Mike Dean. I worked with Brodinski. I'm working with a lot of Canadian guys. I got a song with Young Thug. I want to be one of the most versatile rappers in the game. I don’t want to make just straight Midwest music or straight boom bap rap or straight country rap or club shit. I want to do all that shit.
I know this is an unfair question, but give me your top 5 dead or alive.
That’s not a fair question. [Pauses] Ah shit….fuck man…Scarface, 2Pac, Jay-Z, fuck man, damn….Big Pun, and…Eminem? Those the top five rappers I think. I want to be in the top five dead or alive, so I got a whole lotta work to do if them the motherfuckers that I need to surpass. Like Lebron said he want to be on the Mt. Rushmore of basketball, I want to be on the Mt. Rushmore of rap. So I got mountains and mountains of work to do, and I’m just getting started.