Freddie Gibbs recently paid a visit to the UK to perform at east London’s East Village venue for a one-off show, so we sent The Wrap Up’s Ra’ed Poetical down to have a chat with the rising rap star. Known to tell it like it is, the rapper spoke candidly about living a dangerous life whilst growing up in Indiana, working with Eminem and Bun B, his close friendship with his new label boss, Young Jeezy, and he also sends out a little message to a certain Maybach Music Group rapper...
The Wrap Up: Welcome to London, sir. Have you been here before?
Freddie Gibbs: Thank you for having me! Nope, first time.
TWU: You’re only here for a day, right? Any plans to come back?
Freddie Gibbs: Definitely coming back. I'm gonna rock my first show and make everybody want me to come back (laughs).
TWU: You grew up in Indiana, home of the late great Michael Jackson. What was life like growing up there for you?
Freddie Gibbs: It made me everything that I am today. It’s a special place and there are a lot of good people there, but it’s an economically decaying town with a lot of crime, with a lot of devils around. It’s about how you take it and shape it and use it to your advantage instead of letting it use you. Those devils, they used me for a while, but I had to do what I had to do to turn my life around and that’s what this music thing does for me.
TWU: What was the pinnacle point for you where you thought to yourself, ‘I want to do music’?
Freddie Gibbs: There was so much murder and s**t going on around me, I didn’t wanna succumb to that, or to things of that nature. Basically, I just needed an outlet. Rap was what I needed to express myself and give myself something to believe in.
TWU: You have many stories to tell and someone you get compared to a lot is Tupac, which many of us know is one of your main musical influences. Why was he such an important figure to your career?
Freddie Gibbs: He’s been my number one influence. If you say Tupac didn’t influence you, then you don’t really need to be rapping because nobody evokes that kind of emotion on a track like Tupac does. You’ve got a lot of Tupac clones, but I don’t think I'm one of them. I just think I give people a little piece of the feeling he gave them. But that’s some big shoes to fill! I didn’t wanna live my career trying to fill Tupac’s shoes.
TWU: If you didn’t do music, what do you think you’d be doing instead?
Freddie Gibbs: I really don’t know. If I wasn’t doing music, I’d be in jail or dead. I was on that type of path. Music took me away from that. I got kicked out of school and I got kicked out of the military. I was on a path of destruction.
TWU: Would it be fair to say that music saved your life?
Freddie Gibbs: Yeah, most definitely. Like Lupe Fiasco said in the song ‘Hip Hop Saved My Life’, that was the realest song he ever made because the guy that he was talking about in that record, I was that guy before. Hustling and investing into this rap scene, freestyling, doing s**t for free that you don’t wanna do, it’s all part of paying your dues in this game and I’ve definitely done that.
TWU: You’ve worked with a number of amazing artists, namely Bun B and Eminem, but who would you say you’ve learnt the most from?
Freddie Gibbs: Probably Bun B. He’s always just a phone call away. Bun is like hip-hop’s big brother! He is also one of my influences and someone I look up to a lot in this game, and I will forever be indebted to him. Before I signed with Jeezy, I called Bun. Before I made any moves, I called Bun. I value his opinion and his advice.
TWU: Speaking of Young Jeezy, you’re now signed to his movement. How did that whole process come about?
Freddie Gibbs: I could have signed with any rapper or any record label at that point, but I wanted to go somewhere that I felt comfortable and I was around some real dudes that kept it 100. If we could establish that bond, first and foremost, then the music is simple. So yeah, we’ve got a mutual respectful and I can’t thank Jeezy enough for the opportunities he’s given me.
TWU: In the past, it’s been said that Young Jeezy and Rick Ross have been going back and forth at each other. Without saying any names, where do you stand on that?
Freddie Gibbs: You’ll see on the 'Baby Faced Killa' mixtape. I’ve been known not to bite my tongue. These guys blowing shots at people will definitely be dealt with accordingly. They’re not gonna say anything too crazy because they don’t want that real life s**t. They just wanna rap, you know? We’re not really into that, we’re gonna let them know what it’s really about. There ain’t gonna be no freestyle battle or no bulls**t like that.
TWU: Looking forward to that! On a more positive note, is there anyone who you’d like to work with on some new music?
Freddie Gibbs: Jay-Z! I'm trying to get in there with Jay-Z. I’ve got a song called ‘70’ that I want Jay-Z to feature on. There’s a couple of others guys that I wanna work with as well. Scarface and I are about to drop a couple things, same with Raekwon. I like A$AP Rocky and his stuff, Kendrick too. I’ve done some stuff with Dom Kennedy already, as well as Y.P and Young Louie from Chicago. All of the new upcoming guys who have their heads on straight, doing their thing, I'm f**king with it. I'm still f**king with all of the old G’s.
TWU: Going back to the ‘Babyface Killa’ mixtape, will the album drop after that?
Freddie Gibbs: I’ve got the album with Madlib coming out soon, and the Ski Beatz thing. My major debut is called ‘The Neck Tie Party’ – which is gonna be crazy! I’ve got a lot coming out this year, so it probably won’t come out this year, unless the public really, really want it. But for the meantime, I’m just building up the anticipation.
TWU: And finally, what can we expect from Freddie for the rest of this year?
Freddie Gibbs: I’m gonna show everyone how versatile I am. Like I said before, I'm blessed to be here and doing my thing. We’re building up to ‘The Neck Tie Party’ album, so keep an eye out because I ain’t stopping!
Stay up to date with Frieddie Gibbs on Twitter - www.twitter.com/FreddieGibbs
Words: Ra’ed Poetical (@MrPoetical)
Online editing: Joseph 'JP' Patterson (@Jpizzledizzle)