Freddie Gibbs - $oul $old $eparately Music Album Reviews

Freddie Gibbs - $oul $old $eparately Music Album Reviews
Inviting producers like Kaytranada, James Blake, and DJ Paul into the fold offers a refreshing canvas for a rapper whose technical prowess and stark songwriting deserve a varied landscape to thrive in.

Freddie Gibbs’ gruff, menacing voice has the innate ability to blend with its background. It’s part of why his last three records—Alfredo, Bandana, and Fetti, produced either by the Alchemist or Madlib—felt more like snugly fitting puzzle pieces than curious experimentations. When he bares his soul about the costly pressures of trying to maintain his rap independence on “Skinny Suge,” he’s draped by the Alchemist’s usage of a heavenly guitar progression from German artist Volker Kriegel, to the point where it’s impossible to separate the emotionality of the lyrics with the romantic sample.

Settling into a groove with legacy producers whose names ring out in the annals of rap history made it difficult for Gibbs to buck expectations as to what his projects could sound like. The thrill of surprise dissipated with each album’s hyperfocus. You begin to expect the peaceful nature of David T. Walker strings on “Something to Rap About” or the Sylvers’ angelic shrieks on “Palmolive,” relying on only Gibbs’ nimble flow and cadence variances to make each song feel unique. Now Gibbs departs from the comfort zone that he’s built for himself on $oul $old $eparately, inviting in producers like Kaytranada, James Blake, and DJ Paul into the fold. It’s a refreshing canvas for a rapper whose technical prowess and stark songwriting deserve a varied landscape to thrive in.

Understanding that change is difficult for people, Gibbs provides fan service early in the album to listeners he’s picked up in recent years. The Alchemist’s two-faced, jazz suite on “Blackest in the Room” feels as though it could be ripped from Fetti. Instead of blistering through the track, Gibbs employs a methodical flow that creeps along a dreamy Michel Ripoche sample, rattling off references to Black iconography “Training Day Denzel” and Fred Hampton with a measured fury. The track is a proverbial layup: “Black Forces so his brain ain’t leave a stain on my shoe,” he raps, pairing brutal depictions with the serene vocal sample to create a haunting juxtaposition with a sinister aura.

Even though Gibbs strays away from the Alchemist and Madlib, he retains the soul that’s set him apart from much of rap’s mediocrity and malaise. Instead of a uniform set of boom-bap production that sounds like Blaxploitation flick soundtracks, there’s a grab-bag of sounds for Gibbs to mold. “Grandma’s Stove,” with its musings on his public perception as a “deadbeat daddy” and drugs as a form of escapism, draws additional sensitivity from the somber drumbeat and Musiq Soulchild’s crooning. Kelly Price’s angelic vocal runs on the intro “Couldn’t Be Done” coincide with triumphant horn sections and a pitched-up Norman Feels vocal loop to give the song a celebratory, gospel-esque tone. The James Blake-produced “Dark Hearted,” with its continuous vocal echoes and murky piano beat, makes Gibbs’ bars about homicide and abandonment feel like bad memories he wishes to flush away. His voice dives in and out of the pockets with precision, skillfully playing with the cadence to craft a symphony with the track’s intermittent hi-hats.

Part of Gibbs’ allure stems from his unflinching honesty, turning $oul $old $eparately into a mediation on how his life has morphed with stardom. It’s a double-edged sword: It gets him into a laundry list of beefs outside of his raps that get old rather quickly, while also making it possible for him to address the reputation he’s earned in his songs. Much like how his music interacts with his controversy, you have to make an effort to sort through the nonsense in the vignettes, like when the polarizing Joe Rogan appears in a voicemail at the end of “Rabbit Vision.” But when he homes in on his own words and self-critiques, he’s razor sharp. He combines the groovy rhythms of the Madlib production with his conspiratorial ramblings as a cover on “CIA,” hiding the album’s thesis in the final track. “I did this album off pages ripped out my diary/Confessions and hard lessons, killers confide in me,” he spits, considering how he’s matured and grown over the years. “Rabbit Vision” is a personal sermon, with the J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League’s rousing piano production granting Gibbs the space to reflect on his life journey. He deals in the concrete, refusing to sensationalize his drug-slinging escapades and numerous bouts with public figures.

The album’s sound meanders through regional influences, taking on the form of whoever guest stars on the track with ranging success. Moneybagg Yo’s visit on “Too Much” feels generic and stale, with the pounding bass and braggadocios bars destined to become club background noise. “Lobster Omelette” could have been a standout on God Forgives, I Don’t, as he and Rick Ross’ delivery drips with luxurious energy, deserving to be listened to from a giant pink hotel on Miami Beach. The ascending harp scales of “Gold Rings” provide a beautiful foil for Gibbs and Pusha T’s abrasive verbosity, ensuring that the duo’s shooting percentage remains pristine. Even the other legends that appear are equally as motivated as Gibbs: DJ Paul, Raekwon, and Scarface all maintain their established, elevated quality. Through it all, Gibbs displays an unwavering comfort among legends—the balance between technical agility and hard-nosed intensity ensures that each beat he floats over, whether it be DJ Paul’s horrorcore stylings or DJ Dahi’s whirring electronic beeps, feels familiar, never foreign.

For the past six years, Gibbs’ consistency has manifested in cohesive projects that often blended easy-listening production with in-your-face raps into an intoxicating combination. By electing to embark on a variety of sonic directions, he’s challenging the listener to remember the days of Shadow of a Doubt and ESGN, allowing for his raps to take precedence by deviating from production expectations. At its core, $oul $old $eparately is a full-circle exhibition that allows Gibbs a minute to rest on his laurels: His comfort zone is whatever studio he finds himself in.
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Freddie Gibbs - $oul $old $eparately Music Album Reviews Freddie Gibbs - $oul $old $eparately Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on October 12, 2022 Rating: 5


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