Growing up in Gary, Indiana, surrounded by crime and a lack of prospects, 19-year-old Freddie Gibbs flunked out of college in the early 2000s and started a job at a mall. There he met a local producer who encouraged him to try his hand at rapping: Gibbs had of course been looking up to his idols 2Pac, B.I.G. and Jay-Z for ages – but it was only now that he dared to write his own lyrics. In 2004, he came out of the studio with his first mixtape, Full Metal Jackit, and it proved: Gibbs had something to say, and his deep vocal color gave the stories from the ghetto a unique raw touch. This also impressed the new A&R at the major label Interscope Records, and subsequently Gibbs was signed and got a quarter of a million dollars advance for his debut album. From now on, he was no longer in the ghetto, but in the studio with professionals – and from here, that could be the twist in hip hop ever-popular tale that begins in the ghetto and ends on the world’s biggest stages. Although things didn‘t get quite that simple for Freddie Gibbs: his A&R contact left Interscope, the label doubted the marketability of his style, and the rapper got kicked out – right back into the ghetto.
Almost back to square one, the by no means demotivated Gibbs continued to release mixtapes on his own, and especially with Midwestgangstaboxframecadillacmuzik and The Miseducation of Freddie Gibbs he made waves until he was signed by the indie label CTE World in 2011. That same year, the mixtape Cold Day In Hell was released, featuring him performing side-by-side with 2 Chainz, Juicy J and Jeezy – and now even the leading music media was taking a closer look. Gibbs’ name was infiltrating the nation’s culture blogs and magazines: the rapper was simply building his own hype on the Internet, far from the traditional major label route. 2 EPs in collaboration with beat legend Madlib followed, convincing even long-established hip hop fans of the indie rapper’s talent. His fan-favorite 2012 mixtape Baby Face Killa featured him teaming up with the likes of Jay Rock, Curren$y and Young Jeezy on beats that clearly marked his territory in indie gangsta rap: Freddie Gibbs had found his niche and occupied it, come what may. This was also proven by his debut album ESGN, before the release of which he separated from the CTE label to set up his own record company. The hotly anticipated collabo album Piñata, for which he again locked himself in the studio together with Madlib, was released a year later and landed in countless best lists of 2014.
Once again musically and thematically diverse, the rapper showed himself on his second solo album Shadow of a Doubt in 2015, always looking for new perspectives to tell his rocky story. Shortly thereafter, his career came to a halt after he was arrested in France on sexual abuse allegations and dragged to Austria. However, due to a lack of evidence, the rapper was then released again and in 2017 released the record You Only Live 2wice, which became another success and showed him with still youthful energy – without any promo he then released Freddie, with whose cover he parodied the Teddy-Pendergrass album Teddy and on which he simultaneously combined a load of bass-heavy trap tracks. Together with his friend The Alchemist, whom he still knew from the old Interscope days, he recorded two albums over the years, as well as another one with Madlib. In 2020, he was finally signed to Warner Records, giving the Internet phenomenon even more exposure for his first major album, Soul Sold Separately. And despite his syllabic lyrics, he makes it clear that he chooses words wisely: “I’d be quiet as a mouse if I didn’t have the correct feeling about my music.”