When it comes to keeping it gangsta, Freddie Gibbs keeps it all the way 100. After being signed to Young Jeezy’s CTE Records earlier this year, the young Gary, Indiana native has been touring, putting in work on his lastest mixtape effort “Cold Day in Hell”, a collaborative project with Madlib and finally, his debut album. In an interview with STARK, Freddie Gibbs talks life lessons, music politics, and how he got over.

Words & Interview: Aimstar
Image: Courtesy of Freddie Gibbs

December 4th marked the anniversary of Pimp C’s passing. Knowing that UGK had a big influence on you over the years, how are you feeling and what do you think he brought to the table that inspired you?

For one thing, the real life story that he was telling, you know. Pimp C was true about his word and he was about what he was talking about. That alone I respect and admire. Just the personality that he brought, there will never be another Pimp C. There will never be another personality like Pimp C in Rap that brought what Pimp C brought to the table. You know, the hard Soul. For the man to be incarcerated for eight years and come back stronger than ever was phenomenal, you know what I mean. And we lost on that quick, man, you know. That was the hard part of it.

Young Jeezy’s “Talk to Me” featuring Eminem and you, you’ve got the final 16 bars on the track, released earlier today [at interview time], as one of the first singles from TM:103‘s media blitz. What have you heard so far in terms of feedback since the release?

I mean, all I know is my phone has been blowing up, so… from what I’ve seen on the Internet, it’s been positive. When you’re fucking with a brand you can trust—Jeezy ain’t going to come whack. Em not going to come whack. I’m not going to come whack. So just to be able to [work with them]—it was a good opportunity for me. I’m glad to be on the same track as those two guys.

Did you guys record it together, or was everyone in separate places?

Me and Jeezy recorded ours together, and I think him and Eminem did their thing somewhere else.

I’m glad you said you knew you were going to do your thing because, and I’m not sure if you’ve even heard this, but Hip-Hop critic Tom Breihan once said about your lyrical style, “He just doesn’t fuck up, ever.” In terms of your lyrical abilities and flow, would you agree or disagree?

I definitely agree. I definitely take my time and look at the precise things that I need to do to get my point across on the 12-16 bars that I have to go do my thing, you know. I gotta stand out. If not, then I’m just another rapper. I’m working so that you at least take something from what I do. If you don’t like what I said, you could at least like the way I said it or how I did it, you know.

I felt like your Cold Day in Hell mixtape was probably your most well-rounded release thus far. I really enjoyed it.

You know, I get better with time. As I go along, I’m only going to get better. I think that what I’m supposed to do is progress, you know. Like I was talking to my little sister today, you know, and I was telling her that as a man and as Black people period, we’re so used to non-progression and we limit ourselves. I don’t ever want to limit myself. I always want to push myself. I think that I could be in that upper echelon of emcees, you know what I mean. There ain’t too many dudes that can rap better than me or even as good as me, I don’t think, on the lyrical level. Can’t nobody really talk about the things that I talk about and there’s only a handful of real niggas that are spitting this shit. And then they ain’t really living what they’re talking about. And then some of them don’t have the skills to bring it across.

That’s true. So what did you do to get yourself mentally, lyrically and sonically ready for Cold Day in Hell?

Everyday I do this job I try to get better at it. Whether it’s getting better at performing or getting better at writing, I always try to take something from the people around me or the people I choose to learn from. I try to build it up to raise my skill set so that I can compete with the, you know, Jay-Z’s and guys of that nature.

But mentally, though? Like you said, not everyone can spit like you…

Everything that I’m talking about is life experience. All I’m doing with it is taking it and painting a picture for everybody to see and relate to it. A lot of people—some of what I say might go over people’s heads, while some people can figure it out pretty quickly. For the most part, I’m hitting people with that real ghetto story and I think that I’m doing it in a somewhat intelligent manner. I’m showing niggas that just cause you’re from the hood, been locked up, been to jail—this and that—you don’t have to be an idiot. You don’t have to be stupid, you know what I mean? My story is one that preaches about change, so to speak. I think that everything that I’m rhyming about is steps of me trying to improve my life. I’m telling you what I’ve been through and you know, you can take that and do what you gotta do with it.

So do you consider yourself a Gangsta rapper still?

Definitely! [Laughs] Of course I’m a Gangsta rapper; I’m a ganster, and I’m rapping. [Laughs]

[Laughs] I love it! …Okay, finish this sentence: “It will be a cold day in hell before I…”

Uh..wow. [Laughs] Before I kiss ass in this industry.

Let’s talk about CTE for a second. I was actually surprised when you got signed to CTE—of course, no shots, because I think everyone knows that I am a Jeezy stan [Laughs]. But serious question though, why sign with CTE especially since there were a couple of artists who previously signed with CTE but never came out.

Yeah, and their names weren’t Freddie Gibbs. [Laughs]

[Laughs] So what makes you think your situation is different from the rest? Why is Jeezy going so hard for you?

You know, everybody has a different situation that propels their situation further than others. If someone else’s situation didn’t work out with Jeezy, that’s on them. They ain’t ready, that ain’t got nothing to do with me. For me, I’m just focused on what I could do. Jeezy didn’t start fucking with me or sign me to be a nigga in his crew, just a weed roller or just somebody that’s around. He signed me to progress, to add to the team. I didn’t go into this shit looking at what he could do for me, I looked at what I could do for the camp, you know what I mean, to add to the table and to make the thing go further. Cause I live and die for what Jeezy—what we stand for. CorporateThugz is real niggas progressing and doing what we gotta do to get up out our situations that we’re in, man. And I want to further that message, but to be a great leader, you’ve got to be a great follower. You’ve got to know who to follow, you know what I mean. And I chose to fuck with the most A100 nigga in the game.

I am not mad. Shout out to Kink. [Laughs]

[Laughs] Kink is that nigga, I’m trying to be rich like him.

I saw you on RapFix Live a few months ago and MTV called it the “next generation of promising rappers”. I think it was you, Kendrick Lamar and Jay Rock if I’m not mistaken. We already know who you think doesn’t make the cut [Lil B], but is there anyone on your radar that you’re paying attention to that you’d like to work with, that you haven’t worked with yet?

Uhmm let me see, that I haven’t worked with yet… well, me and Kendrick haven’t really done anything yet and that’s the homie. But with schedules and everything, we haven’t done anything yet. I’d definitely love to do a record with him. There’s a couple of guys out there. I’m just open to working with anybody that respects my work and I respect theirs mutually, so let’s get it cracking, man. And I say this all the time, you don’t have to be the most popping nigga for me to do a record with you, I could care less, man. I just want to fuck with real niggas. You can be Joe Schmoe from around the block— you a real nigga, you real A100, then I’ll build with you about what you’re talking about, your rhymes or craft. If I respect it, then we’re going to go in. Whether you’re on MTV or wherever. I don’t give a fuck, you could be at the local talent show. If you’re a real nigga and I fuck with your style, then I’m going to work with you.

I appreciate that and I think that’s smart.

Too many niggas get caught up in that, “I gotta get this nigga on my record cause he…”—I don’t give a fuck. I tell niggas now, like, “Don’t call me mutherfucker. You didn’t want a feature with me when I was coming up or whatever. So, I mean, don’t do a feature with me now, nigga, because you see me standing next to Jeezy.”

A lot of bitchass niggas try to hit me up cause they see me with Jeezy. Like ‘Oh man, I tried to get you on my shit…’ Hell no, nigga. I ain’t doing shit with your fake ass. There’s 99 A100 niggas….

This is making my day, I wish you could understand. [Laughs]

[Laughs] This is real shit though. These fake industry niggas… I be looking at them like man, ya’ll niggas need to get the fuck out of my face. I live in LA, so I see a lot of these punk-ass niggas come up in the club and all that shit, and they know who I am, they know what’s going on. But they be trying to act like I’m supposed to bow down to them or come over there and fuck with them, you know what I mean. Shit like that. You got the game fucked up. I am one nigga that move with respect, I ain’t about to shit on you my nigga, but you ain’t about to [get me to bow down]. Niggas come with the fakeass smile….Being a nigga from the street, I can read. So I don’t really go for none of the pussy shit, I just let them niggas do their thing. I didn’t get into this game to make Rap buddies or Rap friends. All of these niggas that fuck with me, fuck with me because I’m an A1 nigga. And they don’t fuck with me cause of no Rap shit.

Let’s talk about your new collaborative effort with Madlib.

Yeah, we got the EP, the full-length project coming with Madlib, you know, that’s something that I wanted to do to challenge myself lyrically and set myself apart from the rest of these niggas. So it’s like I could do this, I could do that, it ain’t too many other niggas that can go and do a record with Jeezy, then turn around and do a record with Madlib, and still have both with the same equal potency and neither of them sound forced. I mean a lot of people that try to step out of their lane, it sounds forced. But you know, they’re not me, they can’t do the shit I do. I’m probably the most versatile nigga in the game and if a nigga got a problem with it, step up to my face and say something, you know.

If we’re talking specifically about Madlib, it’s true, because he did a record with Dilla, MF Doom and now you. It’s like, that’s huge, one, two, it shows how extremely experimental and open you are, which is not something that you see from a “gangsta rapper”.

Right and the shit that’s coming out is phenomenal, man. It’s going to sound like a Geto Boys album or something like that. You know, it ain’t no ’89 shit [Laughs], but I’m capturing the essence of what I grew up on and I’m making a great concept record with Madlib. It’s dope, man. Like, I said, it’s definitely a challenge for myself lyrically, but it was something that I was up for because I know most people can’t do it.

Now why did you decide to put an album with him out first, before your own studio album? Just curious…

Just to keep mutherfuckers’ mouths watering. [Laughs] This situation came into play a long time ago, before people even knew about it. So, you know, when I really drop this first album, it’s really going to hurt a lot of niggas’ feelings. It’s going to be like the sequel to Cold Day in Hell.

Can you tell us anything more about the album yet, or is it too soon?

Uhmmmm? Jeezy is going to be on it. [Laughs]

[Laughs] Yeah, I’m sure! I’m like tell me something I don’t know!

Well, I can guarantee you that. That Jeezy will be on the album, that’s one guarantee.

Ok, fine. That’s good enough. Let’s talk about 2011 and how it’s been a crazy year for you, up and down. Jonas Bevacqua passed away this year. You got signed to CTE this year. When you look back at 2011, how do you see it and what did it all mean?

I got to do a lot of things that a lot of people dream of in 12 months, so I don’t take nothing for granted. I know that I’m just beginning and I haven’t even scratched the surface yet with this shit, you know what I mean. So I’m honored and excited to be with a nigga like Young Jeezy because all of these other industry mutherfuckers looked passed me, man. When all of these niggas shitted on me, when all of these niggas blackballed me and talked shit about me, didn’t want to fuck with a nigga because I’m from Gary, didn’t want to fuck with a nigga because I didn’t want to bow down and kiss their ass—Jeezy made all of them niggas look stupid when he fucked with a nigga like me. He showed them mutherfuckers that he was willing to take a chance on another real mutherfucker and give me a shot to do what I got to do. So that speaks volumes about the kind of nigga that he is. Ain’t no telling, he probably heard a lot of bad shit about me, especially with these industry mutherfuckers, but he didn’t let none of that punk-ass industry mutherfuckers sway his decision about me. Like my man was telling me, Jeezy is one of us, my nigga. He ain’t one of them. That meant a lot to me man, and I’m going to ride or die for that nigga for the rest of my life because he put me in a position to change the lives of me and mine. Real shit.

That shit feels grade A authentic. You hear this from rappers a lot, but it never seems real. I felt that.

Man, and this shit is on me. Jeezy ain’t gotta do nothing else for me. He stood next to me, that’s all he really needed to do. Jeezy done put me on records with other people, we done shot videos—Jeezy ain’t gotta do nothing else for me ever in life, you know what I mean. Just him granting me this opportunity, it’s up to me now to capitalize on it. So however things go with my career in the future—good or bad— I have nothing but love for Young Jeezy. And I don’t blame him for nothing that goes wrong in my career because he’s giving me a platform and a stage to stand on, man. Loyalty runs deep with me. If you know me, I still fuck with the same mutherfuckers that I’ve been fucking with from the get-go. I don’t like all that flip-flop, flim-flam shit, and I ain’t one of these niggas that you’re gonna see with five different Rap cliques. They over here, they running to try to hop on these niggas dicks—it’s Corporate thuggin’ until the casket drops right here.

Your trademark as far as your lyrics, are somber narratives of the young, desperate and reckless. But as we know, as you grow as an artist and a person, your experiences and your perspective are going to change. Five years from now, do you think you’ll be serving up some of the same? If not, where is your mind leading us?

Five years from now, I’m still going to be keeping it gangsta. You know, because I ain’t got both feet out of the street yet, you know what I’m saying. You know, my homeboys is still there, so I’m still going to be rapping from their perspective and preaching about their pain and my pain as well. So I’m still going to be keeping it gutter; it’s going to be the same gangsta shit. You’re definitely going to see me progress as a man—I’m growing up now in front of the cameras, mics and all of that shit. I feel like the world is seeing me grow. And it’s going to get nothing but better as I progress as an emcee. Five years from now, you’re going to be mentioning my name with the mutherfuckers that everybody talks about.

We’re already mentioning your name with some of the people that everybody talks about… [Laughs]

Oh well then, five years from now I’m really going to be in that conversation. Like Jadakiss said, “Top five dead or alive.” [Laughs] That’s where I’m trying to be.

Download Freddie Gibbs’ Cold Day in Hell mixtape HERE.

Follow Freddie Gibbs on Twitter, @FreddieGibbs

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