Fredrick Tipton, better known as Freddie “Gangsta” Gibbs took an unplanned hiatus from music, but has finally had a long-awaited return to music and is more superior than ever. His newest record, You Only Live 2wice is a constant reminder of why Freddie Gibbs is at the top of his game and continues to stay in his own lane, creating a throwback style of hip-hop, while progressing and making a unique, distinctive sound that is instantly recognizable.
From the beginning of Gibbs’ journey, he has always been a monument in lyrical ability and production, incredibly distinctive and able to stand out from the crowd; You Only Live 2wice is no different. The opening track, “20 Karat Jesus” is a bombastic return to the stage where he belonged after so much time. “20 Karat Jesus” is also a two-part track that first begins with Gibbs launching a lyrical assault that shows little time to let his flow breathe. He repeatedly drops lyric after lyric while keeping an impressive level of word play on his lines that includes his outlook on how he became the Freddie Gibbs he is today, “Thug in the pen, I need forgiveness. I’m livin’ like every decision a sin. I know my niggas don’t want me to win, Jealousy, choppin’ off all my friends.” Gibbs also has a line where he explains, “I peel 100 dope like the poppy seed in Afghanistan. I been to drop my nuts but these cabbage hands do damage, nigga, Rips from the clip leave you stiff, mannequin challenge, nigga.” Gibbs has always managed to balance a level of realism and metaphor/simile into his lyrics that makes him become one of the most interesting artists in music right now.
As the second part of “20 Karat Jesus” slides into frame, the production here is one of the best on You Only Live 2wice. This production which sounds like a choir and drums from the ‘70s church band that is paired with Freddie Gibbs is all about what Gibbs’ monumental sound is like. He comes in with substantial lyrics that are like a heavyweight champion that delivers punch after punch. “Quarter brick, half a brick, holy shit, whole shit. Scar across my face, strap on my shoulder on some Tony shit… Don’t blow your money, young nigga, pay your lawyer, niggas is wrapped in electrical tape, they walkin’ tape recorders, yeah.” Freddie Gibbs speaks with such strength behind his voice and the emotion instilled in his lyrics is downright remarkable.
You Only Live 2wice feels like a hit song after hit song, Freddie Gibbs has really done an outstanding job on choosing his sound production and making substantial lyrics that illustrate a sense of personal story and a sense of the world around Gibbs. On the track “Crushed Glass,” Gibbs explains in a few sections about his unfortunate and unlawful prison sentence where he was eventually acquitted of Sexual Assault Charges in Vienna, Austria. Gibbs explains, “’Round the world, jail system like a slave trade, nigga. Got me in this foreign prison, monkey in a cage, nigga.” Gibbs then moves through his verse explaining his story of being locked up in the Austrian prison, missing tour date shows and barely eating. There is however a shining light at the end of his sentence as Gibbs explains, “Gangsta G, I fucked the industry, them crackers say I’m too aggressive, I turned myself into a boss without a fuckin’ question.” While extremely blunt in his delivery, Freddie Gibbs drops more insight into his personal feelings and what he came from, showing how to improve and overcome adversity.
Gibbs continues on through You Only Live 2wice, continually bringing in more and more power into each track until he reaches “Amnesia” which is the closest thing to becoming a club record from Gibbs. The booming 808’s are fantastic and the production is truly the most important thing on this track. The way that Gibbs attacks on the instrumental is intriguing and it is the lines “I just did 50 cities in a row, back to back Benz Bentley in a row, Slangin’ that dog sign to the row. I don’t play households, gotta go.” While the track is not one of the strong points of You Only Live 2wice, it is easily approachable and nearly everyone can listen to it, but does not harness the musical prowess that Gibbs displays on the following track, “Andrea.”
More subtle and smoother than previous tracks, “Andrea” is more of a smoky style of production that becomes more focused on the bass that resembles a more authentic method and is a welcome change from the usual sound of attacking instrumentals. The second portion of “Andrea” does include a slowed, more aggressive style of instrumental, but it is again a welcome change as it only lasts for a few moments before launching into “Phone Lit” and the final track of the eight-track saga, “Homesick.”
“Phone Lit” acts more as an interlude that has a verse, but is more focused on the instrumental and on progressing You Only Live 2wice to its unfortunate end. Freddie Gibbs shows two different sides on this project and while both are unique in their own way, it is the way that Gibbs can switch his style so quickly and stretch certain tracks into additional parts that truly makes the production aspect of Freddie Gibbs stand out. “Homesick” is the final closer and as the last leg, it makes for a somber shuffle out into the rain-filled streets where Freddie Gibbs is once again free. Free again to continue his craft, be with his family again, and continue to hone in on his skills, making Freddie Gibbs who Freddie Gibbs is today.