Freddie Gibbs keeps hanging up on me. Either the cell reception drops out or we’re interrupted by the endless stream of congratulatory calls for his new project with The Alchemist, Alfredo, released May 29. It could be Kevin Durant. It could be Mahershala Ali. When he does call me back, it’s around 2 a.m. EDT and he’s cruising through Calabasas, California in his Aston Martin en route to get some Chick-fil-A chicken nuggets for his son Freddie Jr., whom he affectionately calls Rabbit.
“You awake?” he asks. “Because this is about to be a different type of interview. It’ll be smooth, you got me on a good day.” Rabbit echoes the sentiment from the backseat — the two-year-old will go on to serve as the hype man for the rest of the conversation. This is Freddie Gibbs just hours before he turns 38 years old. He’s a father. He’s an essential social media follow even though his obscene Instagram stories will occasionally get him banned from the platform.
He’s also, at this particular moment, the best rapper in the world.
Alfredo is a project 15 years in the making, but it took only a few months to record. It’s what happens when you take a rapper at the peak of his dominance and pair him with a legendary beatmaker rattling off the best streak of his storied career. Through 10 songs and in just under 35 minutes, the album melds Scorsese’s mafioso cinema with dusty samples found somewhere deep inside The Alchemist’s treasure trove of a vinyl collection.
The final product is full of heavy electric guitar intros, Gil Scott-Heron vocal segues and a world class lyrical display. Freddie balances Versace robe opulence with kitchens full of dirty Pyrex, infant potty training and a myriad of Netflix references. There’s even some historic Black militancy for good measure. Alfredo is the hip-hop record for this moment, but don’t ask The Alchemist to explain the how or the why to you. When I asked him about the inspiration behind the album he answered, “It’s Freddie Gibbs. He’s dope. He raps good. What’s not to like?”
“Timing. I’m a big proponent of timing,” The Alchemist said. “We recorded in a few months and we really didn’t overthink it. Fred just did what he did. I did what I did.”
“It’s the whole Jordan mentality — the fact that I’m not gonna lose regardless. That’s what got me to where I’m at in my career.” – Freddie Gibbs
I first connected with Freddie and his longtime manager Ben “Lambo” Lambert back in late 2017. They were putting the finishing touches on their collaboration with Madlib for the critically-acclaimed Bandana, after a summer spent laying the foundation for the album at Paramount Recording. At the time, they were waiting on a few feature verses to come in and for Madlib’s samples to clear. It was the calm before the storm. The two operated as if they were Phil and Michael walking silently out of the locker room tunnel and into Game 6 of the ’98 Finals. The game plan was ready, they just needed to execute it.
Freddie was simultaneously working with Kenny Beats on Freddie, a project that offered him a break from the aura and external pressures surrounding his effort with Madlib. “I was having fun again for the first time since I had been out of jail,” Freddie told me.
Freddie gave Lambo the opportunity to orchestrate an on-the-run promotional and creative plan for the album. “I think with Freddie, that’s when the industry really took notice of our rollouts,” Lambert said. “Freddie came up with the idea to do the Teddy [Pendergrass] Teddy thing. Then I came up with the infomercial where we did this 24-hour, even 12-hour rollout.” The reception to that juxtaposition of presenting this hard trap album as if it were a vintage R&B vinyl paid off. Those ideas were also implemented during Alfredo‘s conception. “We don’t need to tell you it’s coming. We’re just going to hit you with it. But it will be layered where there’s a lot of different things going on.”
Alfredo culminated in a debut at No. 15 on the Billboard 200, the highest charting position for both Freddie and The Alchemist in their respective careers. It was released less than a year after Freddie and Madlib’s highly-anticipated Bandana. “Now we’re in this phase like the Bulls in ‘96 to ‘98 and we’re really gonna go for it. We put out Bandana and Alfredo in the same 11 months. That’s pretty crazy,” Lambert said.
But Freddie and The Alchemist never felt any pressure to live up to that LP’s success.
“It was motivation. Motherf*ckers be talking sh*t about me, saying, ‘Oh man, you ain’t sh*t without Madlib beats.’ Y’all got me f*cked up first and foremost,” Freddie said. “I love Madlib and I love Alchemist, both of these guys are my favorite producers. Both of those guys will sing my praises and tell you the high caliber rapper that I am in the same way that I would tell you the high caliber, legendary hall of fame producers that they are. I don’t make them and they don’t make me.”
“Enough can’t be said about the foundation that Madlib and Fred built over the past few years with those projects,” The Alchemist added. “This record would have been good regardless, but I don’t think it would have done as well as it did had it not been for the work that they put in. Madlib’s involvement let people really hear how good of a rapper Freddie Gibbs is.”
“I was rapping on Alchemist beats, before I was rapping on Alchemist beats. Does that make any sense?” Freddie revealed. “I would imagine myself rapping over them. I would see the sh*it that Prodigy was doing and I’d be like, ‘Damn I can do that too.’ I feel like I’m living out my childhood dreams, making records with this man.”
“These projects are like my kids. You never know if your children are gonna grow up to be doctors, lawyers, teachers. I got a doctor with this one.” – The Alchemist
The Alchemist, born Daniel Alan Maman, has been a go-to producer for hip-hop’s elite for three decades, crafting sonics with the perfect amount of nostalgic grain for Mobb Deep, Nas, Eminem, Jadakiss, Ghostface Killah and more. He even had the occasional verse during his years in the rap group The Whooliganz with Evidence and Scott Caan (yes, that Scott Caan) and on classics like “Hold Me Down.” At the end of the aughts, he started crafting full-length projects and was quick to connect with Freddie for guest verses. He tapped Freddie for Curren$y’s Covert Coup in 2011 for his feature on “Scottie Pippen”, Domo Genesis’s No Idols in 2012 and had a hand in the Grand Theft Auto V Original Soundtrack that laid the foundation for Freddie and Curren$y’s Fetti in 2018.
“Whenever Al or an artist he was producing needed a verse, Freddie would just pull up there. And every time it would happen, it would be like one of his best verses,” Lambert said of Freddie and The Alchemist’s early chemistry. “Anytime he went into that Al zone he just rapped on a different level. It’s the same thing as when he got with Madlib. It was like playing in a different offense but you’re still in your comfort zone.”
There’s something truly special about the run that the 42-year-old producer has been on this year. He kicked off 2020 with the instant underground classic The Price of Tea in China with Detroit veteran Boldy James; he had a placement on longtime friend Eminem’s Music to Be Murdered By and earned a production credit on Jay Electronica and JAY-Z’s decade-in-the-making A Written Testimony. The Alchemist teamed up with Griselda Records leader Westside Gunn for two tracks on his lauded Pray for Paris and an entire EP helmed by Amsterdam streetwear specialists Patta for Conway the Machine’s LULU. And then it was time for Alfredo. “These projects are like my kids. I love all my children. But you never know if your children are gonna grow up to be doctors, lawyers, teachers. I got a doctor with this one,” The Alchemist said.
Alfredo is what independent, grown-up hip-hop sounds like. It stands in stark contrast to an industry so quick to hop on a new trend it oversaturates it in a moment, eager to sign artists to exploitative 360 deals and jump ship at the first sign of any obstacle. Freddie Gibbs and Ben Lambert haven’t just defied the odds through their 15 year partnership — they’ve maneuvered as a full-fledged in-house creative studio with a cocaine brick-sized chip on their shoulders. Lambo is the Jerry Maguire to Freddie’s Rod Tidwell.
Freddie and Lambo kept the team as small and as close knit as possible for Alfredo. Much like their earlier outputs, they cut out the middleman, meaning Freddie hit up all of the features personally for guest spots. Lambo tapped filmmaker Nick Walker to direct the visual for the lead single “1985” after overseeing the cinematic universe for the collective’s last effort. Longtime engineer and producer Rich Gains brought his decade-long synergy with Freddie to the table, opting to mix the vocals as if they were a commercial pop record for a juxtaposition to The Alchemist’s signature sound. Vlad Sepetov created the album artwork while Freddie wrote the treatment for a 20-page comic book, enlisting Marvel artist Deadly Mike to bring the vision to life.
“The mood board was really David Fincher and Martin Scorsese doing mushrooms in the desert.” – Ben “Lambo” Lambert
“Bandana was this slow cooked, methodical five-year process. This was a lot more free-flowing, like how back in the day jazz musicians would put out their album as a quintet or a trio and then they’d turn around and do another project with a different drummer or horn player,” Lambert said. “If you look at the art direction it’s like Casino, some Black Panthers imagery, ‘60s Italian films, it’s this collage and combination of influences.”
“Everything that me and Lambo do, we’re joined at the hip. We really brothers from another mother,” Freddie said. “He’s the first person I’ll talk to when I wake up in the morning, the first person I talk to after I finish a song. He’s a visionary. He’s an artist as well. Our brotherhood is ordained by God and God wants us to succeed right now.”
This journey almost didn’t happen. After signing with Interscope in 2006, Freddie was dropped during the second year of his contract and his debut album was shelved indefinitely while the label’s management shifted in a new direction. Freddie moved to Atlanta and was ready to say goodbye to his rap career for good, instead opting to provide for himself and his family by any means necessary. It took convincing from Lambert and engineer and producer Josh the Goon, who Freddie called while hiding out after a gunfight, to get him on a flight back to the West Coast.
“When Lambo told me to get a plane ticket and come back to L.A. I was like, ‘Yo bro, I don’t got time for this sh*t.’ I want to make money and support my family and I wasn’t doing it,” Freddie said of his reluctance to give rapping another chance. “I felt like I let my family down because I wasn’t in a position to take care of them off the music. But me and Lambo persevere. It was me, Lambo and Josh, and rest in peace to Josh.” The Goon passed away in June 2017.
“They were the only two people that believed in me in the whole f*cking world, when my family members didn’t believe in me or my city didn’t believe in me, even my own homies didn’t believe in me.”
Freddie crashed on Josh the Goon’s couch during the day and recorded in his bedroom studio at night. The Goon’s contributions included producing “National Anthem” and assisting on 2009’s The Miseducation of Freddie Gibbs and midwestgangstaboxframecadillacmuzik, mixtapes that ultimately led to Freddie’s appearance on XXL’s third “Freshmen” cover in 2010. Other nights Freddie would sleep in producer Speakerbomb’s living room. Bandana’s “Situations” paints a grim picture of his struggle upon his return to Los Angeles. “From that moment I was West Coastin’/Livin’ out of Sid apartment, smokin’ all the roaches/Straight survivin’ off of Wendy’s, Pollo Loco.”
“What other guy like Lambo discovered some sh*t from the ground up and stuck with it? It’s been damn-near 15 years and a lot of managers can boast about artists, but a lot of them come as a finished product already,” Freddie continued. “Lambo was driving me around in his motherf*cking Volvo bro, when I didn’t have sh*t and was still selling crack. There was nights we cried together when we damn near felt like it was over. I done been to jail, you know? I don’t know how many guys would’ve stuck with me through this sh*t.”
“There was nights we cried together when we damn near felt like it was over.” – Freddie Gibbs
Alfredo kicks off with “1985.” The track introduces the project with immediacy, featuring crisp electric guitar and an interlude from Bernie Mac’s King of Comedy Tour. It was the last song recorded. “It was me, BJ the Chicago Kid and Freddie eating shrooms and getting f*cked up at the crib,” Freddie’s longtime collaborator and engineer Rich Gains said. “Somebody suggested that we needed to put talking at the beginning. I’m a huge standup comedian fan and I found that great clip, chopped it up and just made it work. There was a whole other intro that didn’t get used. It’s one of the best verses Fred’s probably ever rapped but just contextually didn’t make as much sense as ‘1985’ did.”
Like much of the album, the song is devoid of any chorus or refrain. It’s just Freddie in top-tier lyrical form for two minutes and thirty seconds. His technical wizardry is on full display as he drops timely The Last Dance references, menacing threats to his enemies and sets the tone for what’s to come. He raps double-time without taking a breath for these incredibly long stretches. In a single bar he manages to reference Joe Pesci, Joe Exotic and Black Liberation Army social activist Assata Shakur.
“I recorded this whole album watching The Last Dance. Michael Jordan is my spirit animal,” Freddie said, breaking down the references on “1985.” “It’s the whole Jordan mentality — the fact that I’m not gonna lose regardless. That’s what got me to where I’m at in my career. Period. And we both bald headed.”
“People like Assata Shakur are some of the most important people in history to me. Everything she did, everything she stood for, I was waiting on a bar to give her some props. And I was waiting on a bar to talk sh*t about Joe Exotic. When I look at Joe Exotic, I’m like, ‘Damn bro, this the same way Trump got elected.’ America praises white pieces of sh*t. Any upstanding Black person can’t even get the opportunities of a Joe Exotic. Let’s be real bro, if I was a n*gga with a tiger farm, you think I’d have a goddamn documentary on Netflix? They woulda tried to erase me from the history books.”
“Fred is one of the most versatile artists that I’ve ever worked with,” Rich Gains added. “And once he finds his pocket and the way he’s gonna rap on something the rest is kind of easy. ‘1985’ was the last record that we recorded for the album because he couldn’t immediately figure out how to rap on it.”
“To me, before that song, Alfredo was going in a very Godfather direction thematically,” Lambert said. “But with how that song came out I was like, ‘No this is Casino bro.’ With ‘1985’ and ‘All Glass’ as the bookends, this combination created this sort of a psychedelic mafioso album. Me and Nick got together and the mood board for that was really David Fincher and Martin Scorsese doing mushrooms in the desert.”
In the video, The Alchemist and Freddie meet at a remote and secure location. Dressed in suits, the two contemplate where to bury some bodies while boiling pasta water intercuts. The mafioso intentions are crystal clear through the hazy green-tinted cinematography. “It’s like 50 Cent said — ‘you cut the crack pure, and they’ll keep coming back’ — and that’s how I like to keep my visuals. I want it to be as pure, as clean as possible with some grain, but [Alfredo] gave us the opportunity to do something different,” director Nick Walker detailed. “Once we got out there, we did everything pretty much in one take. Even the opening acting scenes. Freddie is able to showcase his personality so well because everyone knows that he’s real. It’s all real.”
Alfredo released in the middle of the historic nationwide protests after the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the hands of law enforcement. At the time of the album’s premiere, all four police officers involved in Floyd’s murder not only remained free, but still had their jobs despite the eight-minute and 46-second video of his death receiving worldwide media coverage. The plainclothes officers who killed Breonna Taylor in her own home during a no-knock search warrant are still employed but currently under investigation.
It was never Freddie’s intent to make an inherently political record, but he did deliver a prescient verse on “Scottie Beam,” recorded months before the Black Lives Matter movement would sweep the country once again: “The revolution is the genocide/Look, your execution will be televised,” he raps, flipping Gil Scott-Heron’s 1971 track “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.”
As the protests gained momentum, Freddie’s lyrics started appearing on signs from Anchorage, Alaska to Melbourne, from Brooklyn to Los Angeles. The remainder of the verse is reminiscent of Melina Matsoukas and Lena Waithe’s Queen & Slim, centered around the tension of a routine traffic stop and the anxiety that races through the back of his mind. “He pulled me over, I asked him, ‘Yo, what’s the problem, sir?’/I swerved to duck the potholes, man, I had no option, sir/Just let me go ’cause my license, insurance proper, sir/ I’d hate to be on the run for smokin’ an officer.”
“I see a lot of fake n*ggas in the movement. If Instagram didn’t exist, a lot of motherf*ckers wouldn’t even be out there dog.” – Freddie Gibbs
“I wrote the verse before the whole George Floyd protests happened. And rest in peace to George Floyd. [Police] have been doing this for a long time and I just felt like rapping about it you know? I always want to put a mix of some kind of social commentary in the music. I think that I’ve been doing that throughout my career,” Freddie said of the inspiration behind his opening verse.
Freddie Gibbs understands how the criminal justice system works in the United States of America. He’s seen systemic oppression firsthand, not just here, but overseas. In July 2015, he was charged with sexual assault of a woman in Vienna, Austria. The accusation was later found to be false, but he spent four months being extradited between French and Austrian prison cells and spent years fighting to clear his name. When he speaks on the progress of the Black Lives Matter movement and criminal justice reform stateside, the rapper still operates with cautious pessimism.
“I support Black Lives Matter and feel like things can start to change, but change comes slowly bro. We was in captivity for 400, 500 years. I don’t feel like we can expect everything to change overnight. We as Black people, we have to be more mindful of our financial status and our money. We gotta continue to give, man. But with that said, I see a lot of fake n*ggas in the movement. If Instagram didn’t exist, a lot of motherf*ckers wouldn’t even be out there dog. Everybody don’t gotta be an out-front activist or show you what they doing. I’ve been doing charitable things in the neighborhood and in the Black community since 2008. I just donated over $100,000 to the families of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, but I don’t got to show you every f*cking thing I do. I don’t gotta detail every dollar that I donate.”
The recurring theme of fatherhood flows throughout Alfredo. Freddie recruited Griselda Records kindred spirits Benny the Butcher for “Frank Lucas” and Conway the Machine on “Babies & Fools” after enlisting both Buffalo rappers to open up for him on last year’s Album of the Year Tour. On “Frank Lucas” Fred raps, “The SWAT team might machine gun or grenade me down/And if they do, tell my people just hold my babies down.” On “Babies & Fools” Conway adds a subtle nod to his history of making sure every bill is accounted for during the days before his rap career started taking off. “Plus my older son is failin’ math, that sh*t ain’t addin’ up/I guess I ain’t around bein’ a dad enough.” At 38, Freddie is cognizant of the influence that his role as a father has played on his music.
“Being a father changed the way I rap because I used to rap like I ain’t have nothing to lose. Now I have everything in the world to lose because I have beautiful children and a good family structure,” he said. “My daughter’s special. My son is special, man.”
“This is the legacy that I’m leaving, f*ck all of this rap shit, like that’s great and all, but I want my kids to be like, ‘My dad was a stand up guy. He stood up for us.’ My kids, they’re my prizes, they’re my trophies man.”
“When you hear my name, you know it hold weight. That’s all that matters to me. My son named Freddie Gibbs. You know why I gave that n*gga that name? Because it hold weight. And my name don’t hold weight just because I can rap great. My name hold weight because I’m a motherf*ckin’ extraordinary man, an extraordinary gentleman. Before anything, I’m a father.”
“Being a father changed the way I rap because now I have everything in the world to lose.” – Freddie Gibbs
Finding Rick Ross on the guest-list was one of the more surprising developments of the album. The Maybach Music founder delivered, floating over the second half of “Scottie Beam” for one of his best features in years. He mixed boastful condescension (“You need a dictionary when you write your raps”) with tributes to Gigi and Kobe Bryant while maneuvering through his usual penchant for life’s finer things. “I definitely reached out to him personally because I respect his ear for beats and his pen game. He’s a legend in the game. I’ve been listening to Ross for a minute. He’s a proven product,” Freddie said.
“We were getting on a plane to New York a couple months ago before the pandemic. Freddie had just gotten [the “Scottie Beam”] beat from Al. He laid it down with Rich and was like, ‘Yo, I think I’m going to send the record to Rick Ross, which songs should I send him?’” Lambert said of the track’s origins. “It was between ‘Scottie Beam’ or the song that became ‘Something to Rap About.’ Something more luxurious and smooth. Freddie sent both. We got off the flight some five hours later and Ross had sent the record back already.
“When we heard that ‘M-M-M-Maybach Music’ drop we were just going off. We knew it was a classic verse immediately. When he said, ‘I had a vision back when I was fishin’ for a bass…’ Come on. That was ‘Devil In A New Dress’ level.”
“Something to Rap About” ended up going to Tyler, The Creator for a guest verse. Over the years, Tyler’s focus has shifted to a more ambitious, genre-less sound. Even though his latest project IGOR was awarded the GRAMMY for Best Rap Album, he led the charge against the categorization of “Urban,” calling it a “backhanded compliment.” The Recording Academy would only go on to make a change months later, when Billie Eilish and Republic Records spoke up during the Black Lives Matter protests. But “Something to Rap About” finds him returning to his roots and just straight up rapping, delivering a verse where he compliments The Alchemist on his sample of David T. Walker’s “On Love.” Tyler raps, “This sound like the boat I haven’t bought yet/This sound like the moment I jump off it/Sun shinin’, cold water fillin’ in my pockets.”
“Tyler’s one of the best. He’s going to keep pushing creatively and shifting the culture. Guys like him and Frank [Ocean] and Kendrick. He was just bringing the bars and he can do that anytime he wants. You don’t lose that you know? It’s one of my favorite tracks,” Lambert detailed.
Freddie had some fun explaining how the song came together. “Tyler wanted to take me on a date and I said no. I guess he figured since he couldn’t take me on a date he could do a verse and I would agree to one. So that’s how that came about. And I love Tyler, but I just let him know that he ain’t my type.”
Then there’s Freddie’s verse. “God made me sell crack so I’d have something to rap about,” he contrasts Tyler’s Polo-clad fantasy with an origin story. Sure, there are some standout bars about lobster dinners and romantic paint and sips but with Freddie there’s always stark realism lingering around every corner. He flashes back to the IRS hounding him for back taxes from his first label advance from over a decade ago and his time spent locked up overseas.
Freddie still tapped back into that world of self-motivation on “Frank Lucas.” It’s another quality mirrored in The Last Dance — Michael Jordan’s need to make mental notes of any opponent who wronged him or stood in his way to greatness to an almost comical degree. In his bald-headed spirit animal, the rapper found the drive to revisit his feud with Jeezy, who he had a handshake deal with to be apart of the Atlanta rapper’s CTE label back in 2011.
“The fact that Young Jeezy tried to sh*t on me drives me every day. And I don’t give a f*ck about Young Jeezy because he’s musically irrelevant but I use that thing in the back of my head to motivate me every day when I get in the booth to try and thrash that n*gga. When I get in the booth I be trying to prove that motherf*cker wrong who said I wasn’t sh*t in high school.”
On “Baby $hit,” Freddie turns a boast about steady income into a reminder of America’s racist origins, rapping about having pockets full of “dead slave masters,” Rabbit’s progress in his potty training, and he shouts out legendary Houston producer DJ Screw. Alfredo is best served as a solo dish when Freddie opts to attack a track independently, displaying his ability to switch flows at the drop of a dime and ride a beat with effortless finesse. He adds a pristine bounce to “God Is Perfect” and flexes his natural storytelling skills on “Skinny Suge.” It helps that The Alchemist provided a backing score that was minimalist yet transformative enough to complete each scene.
“If you’re an artist and people can’t write what you are in a sentence or draw a picture of you it’s a lot harder.” – Ben “Lambo” Lambert
“My life is cinematic man. I try to bring it all across through the music and I just got a motherf*cking movie role on a low. Well f*ck that, on the high,” Freddie reveals. “I can’t speak on it too much, but I got a lead role in a film. Really I’m about to transcend into that aspect of my career. I’ve been writing scripts since like 2000. I got probably like 10 and when I get bored writing raps I start writing scripts. But I’m not in a rush for that. Right now I’m trying to prove to everybody that I’m the best rapper in the world and that ain’t nobody can f*ck with me.”
That cinematic quality is carried over to Lambo and the way that he approaches the creative direction for each LP. “We always talk about these albums as movies dating back to Piñata. My job is like a movie producer. It’s putting these pieces together. Me and my sister, we speak a language of pop culture references and they’re just embedded in my mind. I end up utilizing them. I’ll sit down and I’m like, ‘All right, this project has to be [Michelangelo] Antonioni meets Shuggie Otis.’ I’ll watch Chinatown on mute while listening to Sade’s Love Deluxe,” Lambert said.
“When we’re in the studio, there’s a TV in there and we put it on mute. We’re watching Heat or Drive or 6 Million Ways to Die. To Live and Die in LA, all these neo-noir movies on mute while we’re recording Alfredo,” he continued. “That drove the beats we were choosing and the decisions we were making. It lets the audience know that Freddie is one of us. He’s doing what everyone’s doing, watching Netflix.
There’s this juxtaposition tactic and the element of surprise. I’m creating a mystique for this character. If you’re an artist and people can’t write what you are in a sentence or draw a picture of you or be you for Halloween, it’s a lot harder. Freddie is very recognizable now. You know what you’re getting when you hear the name Freddie Gibbs.”
Throughout the album, Freddie slips in these humanizing and revealing moments, giving a candid glimpse into his life if you pay close enough attention. “Alhamdulillah on the nights that I wasn’t havin’ sh*t/I say my prayers but I’m rusty as f*ck with Arabic,” he raps of his faith on “Babies & Fools.” 15 years into the game, Freddie Gibbs and Benjamin Lambert have perfected their formula, operating outside the confines of a system built upon exploiting artists and sacrificing originality for personal profit. They’ve done so on their own terms. Their faith was challenged but they never faltered. On June 18, 2020, Freddie and Lambo announced a partnership with Warner Records. The label’s press release declared Freddie a “rap luminary” and “critically acclaimed storyteller” in bold letters. You know what you’re getting when you hear the name Freddie Gibbs, and that’s real. His name holds weight.