Freddie Gibbs – Baby Face Killa

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This is Freddie Gibbs’ most divisive mixtape, with people claiming it’s easily his worst and others claiming it’s another mixtape in Freddie Gibbs’ ever-growing discography, that is to say, it’s good. 

And it’s easy to see why this is the case: Baby Face Killa is Freddie Gibbs’ poppiest release. For one thing, I don’t remember any of his preceding mixtapes focusing so much on hooks, which are often just Gibbs repeating the same fucking line over and over. Some are admittedly addictive, as on “Money Clothes Hoes (MCH),” while the only case where it becomes grating is on “Go For It,” wherein Gibbs swoops to 2 Chainz-level stupidity by repeating “Now bitch scream if your pussy clean” over a serviceable trap rap beat. Secondly, on Baby Face Killa, you hear a man who had spent the past 5 years trying desperately hard to bring back 90s gangsta rap suddenly hopping on every trending hip-hop style from cloud rap to trap rap (speaking of 2 Chainz, Freddie Gibbs jumps on the recent “I’m Different”’s beat for bonus track “Every City” … which is neither worse nor better). Meanwhile, some of the beats, like “The Diet” and DJ Dahi (who will shortly be known for producing Kendrick Lamar’s “Money Trees”)’s “Bout It Bout It” are so melodic (the former) or bouncy (the latter), that Freddie Gibbs completely disappears behind them.

Also: it’s Freddie Gibbs’ mixtape that spends the most time with people not named Freddie Gibbs on the mic to date. Of the rapping features, only SpaceGhostPurrp disappoints, and It becomes clear why he didn’t bring anyone to rap with him on Mysterious Phonk (“While she working and twerking slow motion / I am the potion”??!?). But Krayzie Bones more than makes up for it with the best verse on the mixtape, tastefully namedropping others to get his point across, “Got Bob Marley lungs / I hit a little bit of Snoop OG kush / Then I roll up some Wiz Khalif to get a hook / It’s sticky icky nigga, trust it be real / Cause I planted it and grew it on Cypress Hill.” Meanwhile, “Tell a Friend,” wherein Freddie Gibbs teams up with kindred spirit Curren$y (they share a common lyrical well and approach it with a near unmatched work ethic), is a wasted opportunity; when the beat switches, you expect Freddie Gibbs to return for a third verse over the triumphant horns, but he doesn’t, and the song just patters out after. Of the non-rapping features, Dana Williams lays down the mixtape’s most indelible hook on “The Hard,” which claims the best beat on the album thanks to the airy female vocals laced throughout. Unfortunately, you’ll also have to deal with this Wayne Blazed character, and though I’ve never encountered him before, I can tell from his chorus on “Middle of the Night,” wherein he tells his girl he’s going to wake her up with his dick, that he is an asshole. 

In other words, there’s filler and there’s failures, but until Freddie Gibbs learns that mixtapes need not be so long, that’s going to be the case with any project – the best Freddie Gibbs mixtape is always going to be the one you construct yourself. And broadly speaking, Freddie Gibbs being Freddie Gibbs, his flow will always be on-point and his lyricism hasn’t changed at all since his coming out party in ’09, which means if you liked him then, you ought to like him now. 

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