It should be bad news that Freddie Gibbs hasn’t yet released a proper studio album. After all, the Gary, Indiana native is already 30; Jay-Z, of course, has said he felt geriatric dropping Reasonable Doubt at just 26. Yet since being exiled from Interscope around 2007, Gibbs has become one of street-rap’s greatest successes, solidifying himself as a technically stunning force by releasing mixtape after mixtape (plus four EPs) to much blog- and fanfare. This being the case, there was never much reason to doubt his latest tape, Baby Face Killa.
Over the past couple of years, Gibbs has somewhat abandoned the aphoristic clairvoyance that made some of his earlier work so great. But on BFK, Gibbs manages to bring his increasingly smug yet still dependable style to the tougher stuff (“BFK”, “Still Livin’”) and pop-pining tracks (“Bout It Bout It”) alike, with excellent results. Auto-Tuned Kirko Bangz feature notwithstanding, Gibbs typically waxes hard enough here to prove worthy of calling himself “the definition of detrimental”, but in a good way.
Because he typically drops just one tape a year, Gibbs can’t much afford to jump on anything but crisp, well-mastered beats. Despite its biggest producers being just Statik Selektah and “Rack City”’s DJ Mustard, BFK fulfills any and all requirements in this respect. “Kush Cloud”, for instance, is airy and luxuriant – it could have “& Orange Juice” in the middle of its title – while “Seventeen” is built around rich samples of “It Was a Very Good Year”.
At 71 minutes long (and it is long), you know there’s filler here – find it in the vapid sex-raps of tracks like “On Me”. Over its entirety, though, BFK further cements Gibbs as one of the best MCs around, LP proper under his belt or no.
Essential Tracks: “Kush Cloud”, “Bout It Bout It”, and “Boxframe Cadillac (’83 Deville Mix)”