(AllHipHop Reviews) The last time we heard from Gangsta Gibbs was his 2015 solo effort Shadow of a Doubt. The next year, he was accused of drugging and raping a woman and subsequently detained in France. In late September 2016, Gibbs — born Fredrick Tipton — was acquitted of all charges and allowed to return home.
The 34-year-old Gary, IN native went right to work, announcing the release of You Only Live 2wice in early March and releasing two singles from the album: “Crushed Glass” and “Alexys.” But with two great albums under his belt in Piñata and Shadow of a Doubt, does Freddie Gibbs’ fourth studio effort live up to the expectations he’s created for himself?
Right off the bat, we get a taste of the cocaine rap that we’ve come to expect on “20 Karat Jesus,” a two-part song that finds Gibbs divulging his drug dealer past while speaking on his recent court case. These themes are both consistent throughout the album as Gibbs delivers what may be his most revealing album yet.
On the fourth track of the album, “Dear Maria,” Freddie takes a few minutes to talk to a girl he used to mess with. According to the track, she even went as far as giving Gibbs the drop on some Puerto Ricans she knew of. In the end, though, Gibbs’ commitment to the game kept things from working out — and also blessed us with this track.
There are a lot of reasons to love this album. While many rappers (understandably) have a difficult time weeding out tracks for an album, Freddie Gibbs created the ultimate minimalist, re-playable album by sticking with 8 tracks. Another great aspect of this album is the varying production, one aspect of music that Gibbs seems to have locked down. Production is handled by a diverse group of hit makers including Speakerbomb, Blair Norf, Jermaine Dupri, Pops, SLWJMZ and more. This allows Gibbs to tackle a diverse array of subject matter, as topics range from his hustling past and braggadocio rap on songs like “Andrea” and “Amnesia” to more personal musings of his court case and emotional state, and even a song for the ladies in “Phone Lit.”
With Freddie Gibbs being mostly absent from the game in 2016, hardcore fans likely expected a longer album. But there seemed to be an aim with You Only Live 2wice in that Gibbs kept it short and without features. The narratives on this opus are more pronounced due to the serious nature of his 2016 legal woes. It’s clear that Gibbs had something to say with this album, and he wanted to be heard over and over again.
At the end of “Homesick,” the album’s final track, Gibbs talks about being taken to a library filled with German books when he had nothing to read in prison, and eventually, Erica (his fiancée and daughter of NFL legend Eric Dickerson) flew to Germany to hand-deliver books in English. At the end of the track, he leaves fans with this promising message: “I’m back. . . And I ain’t goin’ nowhere this time.”