FREDDIE GIBBS “Murda on My Mind” LIVE @ SXSW [Video]

[Photo Credit:  Lucas Zielasko]

Before Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five released “The Message” in 1982, rap music was predominately pushing a heavy party vibe.  That classic track was one of the first exposures that many people living outside of the inner city ever got to the everyday lives and turmoil within it.  In 1988, 2 more gritty, groundbreaking, and genre defining rap albums were released:  Public Enemy‘s It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back and Straight Outta Compton by NWAChuck D and PE introduced a militant, politically-charged lyrical stance with a focus on racial issues and media propaganda.  NWA, on the other hand, addressed the issues by being gangster as fuck, ignoring more of the high level political figures and directing more of their attention on the immediate plight facing their local community of Compton.  Also released that year was the Boogie Down Productions album, By All Means Necessary, which found KRS-One moving in more of a political direction himself.  BDP‘s previous album, Criminal Minded (1987), was much more violence oriented and is credited by many as supplying the blueprint for future East Coast gangster rap.  Whether they were focusing more on activism and education or murder and crack deals, there was one huge similarity between these hardcore groups, beyond their uncanny abilities to scare the shit out of White people.  Embedded in every one of these efforts was an authenticity and sincerity that came through in the music.  One look at the Black Eyed Peas or T-Pain, or any other “hip-hop” disaster that would proudly try to rock a velour top hat, and it’s pretty clear that this legitimacy has gradually evaporated during the last 2 decades.  Now there’s a rapper by the name of Freddie Gibbs who’s determined to not only make rap “gangster” again, but also hopes to return some credibility to the art form.

Over the years, there have been occasional artists that have managed to set the rap game on it’s ear in a similar way, but that scenario has become increasingly rare.  2-Pac and Wu-Tang are prime examples of creative forces that paired actual skill and amazing story telling abilities to provide an engaging, 3-dimensional aspect to the street-life subject matter spotlighted in their tracks.  Gangster rap used to overcome it’s subject matter by displaying itself as an undeniably viable art form and providing a necessary format for voices that were silenced elsewhere.  Eventually, the idea/label/marketing of “gangster rap” actually became the most important element in it, above quality songwriting or even skill.  Even the”backpack” rap movement of acts like De La Soul and Tribe Called Quest has mutated into “conscious” rap which, at this point, is just as much of a diluted concept as anything else.  People like 50-Cent sell vitamin drinks, wear fur coats, and rap about dancing at clubs, showing much more concern with becoming celebrities than with creation at all.  Ice Cube makes childrens films and Snoop Dogg is like Ronald McDonald to suburbanites these days.  These issues of lost credibility are something that Freddie Gibbs is trying to counteract with his music.

Freddie grew up in the city of Gary, Indiana, an area which is a hell of a lot more violent and impoverished than the tune that Ron Howard performed in The Music Man would imply.  Gary is also the town that the Jackson 5 originated from and the reason that they put so much effort into their musical careers to help them finally get the fuck out.  It’s gotten a whole lot worse than that and Gibbs‘ path was a lot less thought out than Gary‘s most famous former residents.  The gangster rapper went to Ball State on a football scholarship.  He was kicked out.  He went through a court-ordered boot camp and joined the Military.  He was discharged.  Like many others, he hustled on the street, supporting himself with proceeds from both pimping and crack dealing.  His lyrics reflect this past as well as more personal issues, such as experiencing the miscarriage of a child and the death of his grandmother.  Along with all of this loss, the rapper was also signed to Interscope Records and lost that deal as well.  Still, his fan-base has continued to grow and, although he has stated and exhibited a focus on quality over quantity, Gibbs has been pumping out a shit ton of mixtapes and material.  Just last December, he released the mixtape, The Labels Tryin To Kill Me, which boasted a ridiculous 81 tracks on its own.

Even with the amount of material that he is capable of producing in a short period of time, he still claims to have a strong focus on creating work that is “all killer and no filler“.  His tracks feel honest and Gangsta Gibbs, as he is often referred, makes numerous comments which attack other artists for appropriating and marketing themselves as part of a lifestyle that people like himself have actually lived.  The Indiana native makes it known that he thinks that the majority of rap music today is pure “bullshit”, while giving props to strong musical influences like UGK and Geto Boys.  He doesn’t have a flashy rap moniker and Gibbs isn’t covered in chains or sporting a grill.  Rather, he is generally shown rocking simple caps with t-shirts and preaching the importance that honesty and determination play in his music.  His flow is tight and his lyrical content is solid, but I’ve noticed something more intangible throughout the limited amount of work that I’ve heard from the artist so far; something about Freddie Gibbs‘ work just feels legit.  There’s an earnest quality in his voice and message that ties him to artists like Tupac that he has so much respect for.  His tracks don’t come across so much as a glamorization of the struggles of ghetto life or as a condemnation of it, but simply as a vivid presentation of the landscape.  As of yet, I have only heard a limited amount of his work, but I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve witnessed so far.  Most of all, I can respect his mission to make rap gangster again.  Historically speaking, scaring white people has always been a vital part of the evolution of music in the United States, after all.


Freddie Gibbs definitely made his rounds at the recent SXSW festivities, appearing as part of 8 separate showcases in a time-span of only 4 days.  The video below is of Gibbs performing his song, “Murda on My Mind” live on March 18th.  It was filmed for us by John Backstrom and took place at “The Rumbler Room” in a bar called Peckerheads on Sixth.  According to John, Freddie requested a blunt from the audience and was obliged when a man passed one up to the stage.  Apparently, this action was followed by countless shouts of “FUCK THA POLICE!” from the crowd.  The hilarious part is that the rapper didn’t even smoke the blunt during his set, he just pocketed it for later.

Murda on My Mind” can be found on the album Midwestgangstaboxframecadillacmuzik

Dead C

Located in Seattle, Dead C is the founder/editor, as well as the principal writer and photographer, of Monster Fresh. Creating the site in 2007, he did so with a specific dream in mind. Unfortunately, being a muscle relaxer-fueled fever dream, it's hard to recall all of the details. "I remember that my mom was there, but it wasn't actually her in the dream, it was actually 70s heart throb, Jan Michael Vincent. And everything took place here, in this room... but it wasn't actually here... it was different. The colors were washed out and, for some reason, there was a raccoon kicking it with us and it was wearing a holographic monocle."

More Posts - Website - Twitter - Facebook - Flickr - YouTube

  • Stupacalypse

    First of all the guy’s (Gibbs) a breath of fresh air, just downloaded his 81track mixtape an it’s heat start to finish. However, being from Glasgow UK (similar to Gary, I in that it is also a murder capital)where the gangsters, pimps, and generally most poor people, scary individuals, and criminals are white I don’t appreciate the stereotyping from the guy who wrote the above info. Not all white people are scared, here we do the scaring.

  • Thanks for visiting the site but, if you are being serious about not “appreciating” the “stereotyping” then you should probably pay attention to a few things.

    The first of these being the fact that I clearly wrote, “Historically speaking, scaring white people has always been a vital part of the evolution of music in the United States, after all.“. You live in Glasgow, so I really don’t see your point, except for the fact that you might be looking for an opportunity to prove that you’re “hard” on some level, which I don’t really give a fuck about. If you were paying attention, then you probably would have noticed that the entire intro focused on a selected history of Rap music in the UNITED STATES (sorry, I’m not really up on the history of Rap Music in Glasgow.)

    In the U.S., acts like Public Enemy and N.W.A. (that’s right, “NIGGAZ” with attitude) were addressing their oppression and segregation in the U.S. This oppression originated from white America. Even the song “Fuck Tha Police”, after Ice Cube was asked to take the stand and swear to “tell the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help (his) BLACK ass?” the first real verse is as follows:

    Fuck tha police
    Coming straight from the underground
    Young nigga got it bad cuz I’m brown
    And not the other color so police think
    They have the authority to kill a minority

    I understand that, in this day and age, the stereotype might feel reversed for Caucasian people that like RAP music, but that wasn’t the point and, as far as your point, I don’t really see one. Most of the people that have written on this site are White anyway.

    “White America” is actually a term here and even rappers like Lil Whyte don’t fit into it. It’s a larger concept than the individual. People like Lil Whyte do still frighten White America, which is why he isn’t famous and people like Asher Roth are. Lil Whyte is too “black” for mainstream corporate America, while someone like, Soulja Boy isn’t (see what I’m saying?). “Historically” -as I’ve stated in the article- White America has feared black music and influence. People would be forced to hide albums by black artists like Little Richard, until that type of music (aka: rock) was appropriated by performers like Elvis. In the 70’s, Disco was created as an attempt to appropriate and bury FUNK music.

    When Talking Heads released Remain in Light in 1980, they made some videos. One of the videos was for the song “Crosseyed & Painless” and MTV refused to air it. They told Talking Heads that their music was too “black”. With all of the shit that they wouldn’t play from the U.S., it opened the door for bands like Duran Duran to have a successful career and dominate the programming here. Look it up, Rick James was pissed and accused MTV of being racist in it’s early days, which they didn’t ever really exactly deny. Michael Jackson’s label [I believe it was Sony(?) at the time] actually had to force MTV to play videos like “Billy Jean”, with the threat of removing videos from all of the other artists on the label if they didn’t comply.

    Like it or not, that is the true history of music U.S., so feel free to be offended by it. It is an offensive history that the country shouldn’t be proud of. Overcoming it, is what matters.

    There was a message in RAP before and it was a serious one. People were pissed and those who had were finally being forced to listen to the have-nots. If you’re going to use your screen name to reference Tupac, how can you overlook the fact that his family roots stem from the Black Panther party? Know your history; the Black Panther party was a racial organization. You live in Glasgow and it’s a bad area and it’s 2010, I get it… but focus on the context here. This post was about the history of U.S. Rap music and if you don’t see how race has at least been involved in it’s history, creation, and molding, then you have no fucking idea what you are talking about.

    Here’s a quote from Tupac himself:

    If you know in this hotel room they have food every day and I knock on the door. Every day they open tha door to let me see tha party, let me see that they throwin’ salami, throwin’ food around telling me there’s no food. Every day. I’m standing outside tryin to sing my way in- “We are weak, please let us in. We’re week, please let us in.” After about a week tha song is gonna change to, “We’re hungry, we need some food.” After two, three weeks it’s like “Give me some of tha food! I’m breakin down tha door.” After a year it’s like, “I’m pickin’ the lock, comin’ through the door blastin.” It’s like, “I’m hungry.” You reached your level, you don’t want any more. We asked ten years ago, we were askin’ with the Panthers, we were askin’ in the Civil Rights Movement. Now those who were askin’ are all dead or in jail, wo what are we gonna do? And we shouldn’t be angry!?

    I still love Snoop Dogg and think that’s it’s great what he has been able to accomplish but, as an artform, Rap Music has been slipping tough for years and you know that. So don’t take shit personally, especially when I never even said it. As an example of what you can accomplish, Snoop is great on some levels. At least he’s remained moderately legit with his music output. Still, many rappers today, even if they are black, are appropriating the plight and idea of people that live in areas such as yourself and don’t even respect that fact. They are marketing a load of bullshit.

    To many, the message has even become, “Hey, conform to corporate America and you can quote/unquote achieve” and not, “Be honest with yourself and work hard and you can achieve”. There are stipulations and it’s not right. RAP is now widely “accepted”, but it is accepted in a diluted format and has lost it’s potency. The problem is that the issues that were being addressed with the original hardcore and/or gangster rappers hasn’t really been alleviated. That’s why artists like Freddie Gibbs are so vital right now. The message has been lost and people don’t take it seriously anymore. It started out strong, forged by hand and crafted by individual and potent minds. Then, like anything else that’s been mass produced, it’s been watered down for massive consumption. Look around… even sites like ETSY prove something pertaining to this point.: A shitload of people still want items of quality, even in the midst of a Fast-food Nation.

    Honestly, I do appreciate that you visited the site and that you are a fan of Freddie Gibbs, but don’t react and bug out too quickly. If you do, there’s a good chance that you’re going to miss the entire point.

  • e diggity

    Yeah I am only scared of people with large birth marking’s in the shape of a pentagram, not all brown people. Seriously though well put author, thanks for the time.