By Christopher Brocker
Assistant Music Director
Gary Indiana native Freddie Gibbs returns accompanied by a solidified producer, The Alchemist. Gibbs is coming off the highly acclaimed collaboration album Bandana with producer Madlib in 2019.
Bandana was easily the biggest Grammy snub for hip hop album of the year last year. Gibbs has been paving out his lane in hip hop and putting together a solid and underrated discography.
The album opens with “1985,” which alludes to the line “Michael Jordan 1985, b****, I travel with a cocaine circus.” “The Last Dance” documentary inspired bars are prevalent all over Alfredo accompanied by many other sports references.
“1985” was the only single off Alfredo and the only song that is accompanied by a music video. An epic guitar sample is looped throughout the record as Gibbs flows over it. The instrumentation is pretty minimal as the guitar and drums are the main sounds.
Both instruments, however, sound like they may have been recorded live. Gibbs delivers per usual on “1985” to set the tone for the album.
God is Perfect
If “1985” didn’t have enough bass in it, then “God is Perfect” certainty will impress you. The boom bat production with the chorus “Microphone check, one, two, mic checka,” makes this one of the most enjoyable songs on Alfredo.
Gibbs shows off his repertoire of flows with high energy on this song, further solidifying his emerging position in hip hop. “God is Perfect” has a long outro with a sample of Gil Scott-Heron that seamlessly transitions into the next song.
This song is named after media personality Scottie Beam who is mentioned in Gibbs’ verse. A beautiful piano sample is looped into the production, which makes this song silky smooth.
The first bar, “The revolution is this genocide, Look your execution will be televised,” plays off of Gill Scott-Herron.
Gibbs has said that the bar was created before recent events, however, given the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, this bar turns heads. This is by far the most impactful line off the album and maybe the most important line Gibbs has delivered.
Gibbs’ anecdotal story about being pulled over by the police feels more impactful during the current climate. Gibbs continues his war stories with the line, “I’d hate to be on the run for smoking an officer,” when referencing the movie “Queen and Slim.”
Rick Ross fits perfectly on this beat as his voice is just as smooth. “Scottie Beam” is my favorite song off of this album and is the one I’ve returned to the most.
Look At Me
One of the most laid back songs on the entire project and one of the shortest, “Look At Me” serves as an unofficial interlude. Alchemist provides more smooth and soulful production on this record without the presence of drums.
“Look At Me” feels like a premature intermission on Alfredo before smoothly transitioning into one of the harder songs off the album.
“Frank Lucas” is easily the hardest beat off the album. Alchemist creates a dark and menacing atmosphere on this track.
Lines like “Michael Thomas b****, I’m catching blessings,” continues the sports references. Gibbs notably speaks on having inspired rappers in the industry who are aspiring to sound like him.
Benny the Butcher follows Gibbs with one of my favorite features on the album. “Sold lines to abusers now abuse y’all with lines,” is one of the hardest bars off the album. Benny also spits “They say hustlin’ like a disease, I’ma die with the symptoms,” another heavy-hitting bar.
“Frank Lucas” concludes with a sound of a splash and the sound of water which alludes to Tyler, the Creator’s verse on the next song.
Something To Rap About
The production features a soft guitar with a piano, which sounds once again like live instruments. Alchemist creates another smooth and laid back atmosphere with the production.
Gibbs references the song “Crime Pays” off Bandana alluding to trouble with his taxes. The most memorable line from Gibbs, however, “God made me sell crack so I’d have somethin’ to rap about,” gives us a look into the psyche of Gibbs.
Tyler begins his verse painting a vivid picture of a day on the lake and jumping off a boat, which is what he envisioned when first hearing the beat. Tyler notably speaks to his maturation from his album Goblin now to being a self-proclaimed businessman.
“Something To Rap About” has some of the best replay value on the album.
Alchemist delivers a bouncy beat and Gibbs follows with an equally bouncy flow. Alchemist further layers the beat with spacey and atmospheric production. “Baby $hit,” is not as dense lyrically as other songs on the record but regardless has strong replay value.
Babies & Fools
This is another soulful track where Gibbs and Conway utilize the vocals from the sample in their verses. The vocals sampled by Alchemist contribute to bringing the song to life.
Conway gives the more memorable performance on this song as he gets more personal in his verse. Conway speaks on the relationship with his baby mother souring because of his absence while on tours.
Lines such as “Plus my older son is failin’ math, that s*** ain’t addin’ up I guess I ain’t around bein’ a dad enough,” further provides insight into his personal life.
Alchemist creates a sobering atmosphere with a sad guitar in the production, which also sounds like a live performance. The very minimal beat allows Gibbs to take center stage.
Gibbs is extremely vulnerable on this track and details his struggles. Gibbs raps about having nightmares because of the life he used to live.
Gibbs raps about having to sell drugs to fund his music career earlier in his life by delivering the heartbreaking lines, “Man, my uncle died off an overdose and the f***** up part about that is I know I supplied the n**** that sold it.”
Gibbs then raps about how this turned him to drugs to cope with his pain and nearly drove him to suicide. The darkest moment on the entire album and probably the most vulnerable we’ve ever seen Gibbs before.
Gibbs has made references to cocaine dealing being intertwined with religion before as the opening bars go, “Yeah, money in the church pot, Your nephew work for me, got bundles in his church socks.”
Gibbs also provides anecdotes about having shootouts in hospital parking lots. Gibbs drops another Michael Jordan reference, “ball ’til I fall, never pass the ball with my bald ass.”
Alchemist creates a dark beat with a looped gospel organ that pairs nicely with the content of Gibbs’ verse.
Gibbs and Alchemist are a perfect match on Alfredo and they deliver one of the best projects of the year so far. Personally, this is my favorite hip hop release of the year and I’m confident that it will remain in my top five.
Gibbs further solidifies himself as one of the best rappers in hip hop right now on Alfredo. Gibbs and Alchemist have teased that part two to Alfredo or at least another collaboration could be on the way.
Gibbs and Madlib’s follow up to Bandana currently titled Montana should be on the way as well. If Montana is on the same level as Bandana and the follow up to Alfredo is equally as impressive, Gibbs could take the crown.
Featured image via Alfredo album cover by Freddie Gibbs.