Freddie Gibbs f. Freeway – Anything To Survive
I reviewed Freddie Gibbs over at Pitchfork. It’s a very good record and Gibbs was punching out of what I’d thought was his weight class. Some folks might remember I was pretty annoyed by the Gibbs press around the time his first records were breaking. My review touches on this obliquely, but I think I want to add some context here. This was a period when Gucci seemed like he was at a creative peak, and he had gotten absolutely zero press at this point. Most absurdly, a bunch of critics who typically ignore “Regional Thugs and Coke Rappers” had chosen Gibbs as an artist to celebrate (presumably because of his ‘skills’ — which obviously an artist like Gucci was seen to lack). This was borderline offensive to me, because Gibbs has all the gun-busting drug talk & general negativity that keeps these writers from covering street rap more generally, without Gucci’s manic creativity. It was proof-positive that their objections are not moral but are instead aesthetic. It shattered the myth that it was about ‘conscious’ vs. ‘street’ completely, and reinforced that certain novel aesthetic maneuvers will get you press attention, as long as they code the right way for a certain trend-conscious audience. People will make excuses for any problematic content; if your music doesn’t appeal to a particular media-savvy crowd, though, be prepared to answer for any and all crimes against decency.
The above track, “Anything To Survive,” samples Bobbi Humphrey’s “Harlem River Drive,” a track off of one of my favorite records, Blacks and Blues. The Humphrey LP was produced by the Mizell brothers, which I mention because 1) they were incredible and produced some of my favorite music in the world, and also 2) Fonce Mizell died this year, so keep him in your thoughts.
The album version of “Anything to Survive” includes a verse by Sly Polaroid, who didn’t make it in the video for whatever reason. He was Bump J’s partner (his track at the end of Bump’s Dinner Time tape, “Deep in the Streets,” gives a good feel for the effortless cockiness that is his trademark — “I’ll squeeze a quarter til the eagle screams”) and he also released a solid mixtape this year called Honor Me. It’s got some great moments on it; I’m a fan of the beat he got for “Hustlin’ and Gamblin” in particular, and the one Bump J feature is a highlight as well. Below is a video for his single “The Bad Guy.”
Sly Polaroid – The Bad Guy