February 26, 2004, will forever numb Freddie Gibbs’ memory. On this frigid day, Kinnell “Stymie” Magee’s breathing was permanently arrested. Although Kinnell was a few years older than Freddie, together, these two friends learned many of life’s stark lessons. Several adjectives could describe Kinnell: friend; expecting-father; son; determined; college-educated; neighborhood-supplier; doomed. Both men yearned for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. America’s Rust Belt reinforced that these UNalieable rights only exist on paper. These young men were motivated by a stubborn hope, sometimes hateful and often cruel in its assertion, that they, too, could enjoy this patriotic fable. In order to gain their independence, they chose to undertake a corrosive path to the American “dream.”
Kinnell’s disillusioned journey involved frequent run-ins with Indiana-bacon. The only thing some of these porkers love more than their donuts is trampling resident’s civil rights. Intercepting an urgent 911 call from Kinnell’s house for medical assistance, this locally-funded gang arrived, devastating an already precarious situation. Kinnell’s windpipe quit. Oxygen-deprived, he struggled for life. The Magee family and Freddie Gibbs were stuck in this surreal nightmare. Arms flailing, tiny sounds escaped between his dying lips. “I can’t breathe,” became Kinnell’s last words.
Countless witnesses, and a camcorder’s unflinching eye, were unable to deter this savage encounter. Encircled by irate Gary-pigs, Kinnell’s gasps were ignored as a police-baton crushed against his throat. No air. Nothing but hate separated Kinnell from his murderers. Smothered by smoldering American-animosity, Kinnell died on a snow-covered street. Once the paramedic’s finally arrived, the whites of Stymie’s eyes mocked their inaction. Kinnell was condemned because of his skin.
Freddie Gibbs may be signed to Young Jeezy's CTE, but he still uses his voice as an MC to provoke change. His lyrics chronicle everything from tragedy to triumph. With a perspective that reflects E. 17th Virginia Street, and far beyond, this G.I. native, is showing the world how to effectively emcee. Gibbs knows the difference between exercising poetic license and spewing pathological lies. He is reality rap. In the conclusion of this exclusive interview, Freddie Gibbs talks: life, lyrics, and ladies.
AllHipHop.com: Who is Kinnell and what happened to him?
Freddie Gibbs: That’s one of my homeboys. He got murdered by the police.
AllHipHop.com: By the police in Gary?
Freddie Gibbs: Yeah.
AllHipHop.com: I assume the case is still open.
Freddie Gibbs: I don’t know what’s going with that. I think it’s done with; it’s over and done with the case is closed.
AllHipHop.com: How long ago did he get murdered?
Freddie Gibbs: That was like six years ago.
AllHipHop.com: When I saw his name mentioned at the end of “The Ghetto,” it made me think maybe he’s your, Cato.
Freddie Gibbs: [laughter] Nah, he ain’t rap or nothing like that. That was my big homie, though.
AllHipHop.com: I want to dissect a couple of your lyrics. On your record, “The Ghetto,” you say “… the ghetto ain’t just a place it’s a mentality/ most of carry with us constantly causing causalities…” I want you to expound on this perspective.
Freddie Gibbs: Well you know, if you’re a ghetto muthaf*cka you take that sh*t everywhere that you go. It ain’t just where you live at, you make where you live at ghetto. You’re just a ghetto muthaf*cka, you know what I mean?
AllHipHop.com: Do you think that ghetto has a negative stigma attached to it?
Freddie Gibbs: Sometimes it can; sometimes it’s positive. To me, sometimes the ghetto can mean camaraderie, you know, family. That’s just where the f*ck I grew up. To me, it just means family and camaraderie. It can have negative stigmas attached to it like all the dirty sh*t and crime, and all that sh*t attached to it. But, man, f*ck that, I wouldn’t rather grow up nowhere else. I’m thankful for it.
AllHipHop.com: As you reflect over learning to be a man, do you feel as though you’ve triumphed over your environment, or that you environment made you the way that you are?
Freddie Gibbs: I think a little bit of both. I triumphed over the sh*t; I ain’t dead yet. But, I think the inner-workings of where I’m from, definitely made me who I am. It definitely gave me a different mentality than it would have if I had grown up somewhere else. I can definitely say that.
AllHipHop.com: Are you socially progressive?
Freddie Gibbs: Yeah, I think so. A lot of the things that I say in my songs are socially progressive. I tell people that you can’t sell dope forever [and] for them to figure out a way to get out the game. I’m not glorifying it; I’m just shedding light on it. Hopefully, I can steer you in a different direction.
AllHipHop.com: With your different experiences, have you ever encountered a functional addict and watched him progress to becoming completely clucked-out?
Freddie Gibbs: Yeah, I’ve seen a lot of junkies. Everybody starts out functional then at the end they’re not.
AllHipHop.com: How do you sleep knowing that you may have had a hand in that? Ultimately they’re responsible for their choices, but you may have helped impact a bad decision.
Freddie Gibbs: You feel a little bad, anybody with a heart do. But, when you’re counting that money at the end of the night, you ain’t trippin’ because your stomach is full. Would you rather see me selling crack to them or robbing them; because, I’m going to do either or, you know.
AllHipHop.com: Taking it back to Gary, on in “The Ghetto,” you say, “… lack of skills leads to some deadly infatuations…” In relation to making money, is it easier for people to follow the established / immediate thing to do as opposed to setting their own path?
Freddie Gibbs: I do think that some people do take the easy way out, but some people just don’t have a lot of options. Everyone don’t have the option to go to school; some people can’t get into the military. I know n*ggas that’s trying, they want to get into the military, but they can’t. They made me get in the muthaf*cka. I know n*ggas that want to get in but can’t get in. I know n*ggas that can’t get no job nowhere. I would say lack of skills and school—they don’t have the money to go to school. And the education system is f*cked up; it don’t teach you nothing in the first place. A diploma ain’t worth sh*t. It can lead to you doing some bullsh*t, or being involved in some bullsh*t.
AllHipHop.com: Traveling down that lane of thought, it seems that you write your life. Has there been a time where you’ve encountered a lull in your creativity or writer’s block?
Freddie Gibbs: It happens all the time. But, it’s never for like days at a time, you can just have a lot of sh*t on your mind. Life can weigh on you, but you just got to sort your thoughts out when you don’t feel like writing sh*t. No, it’s never for days or weeks at a time, maybe for a couple hours.
All of that sh*t is what you make it. I can write about anything. There’s times where I don’t really feel like f*cking with music, but I wouldn’t call it writer’s block. I take my time to write my songs, anyway. So, I can piece it together perfect. I don’t really get that writer’s block sh*t. That’s some punk sh*t that somebody made up.
AllHipHop.com: Is the mixtape replacing the importance of the debut album?
Freddie Gibbs: No, well, I don’t know. But, I won’t say it’s replacing the importance of a debut. The game is just changing. People blow up off a good mixtape. So, it’s whatever you put out there that people catch on to, whether it’s a mixtape or a debut album. Maybe it does erase the importance, a little bit, you know what I mean, but not for me.
AllHipHop.com: You’ve given us a lot of mixtape material; let’s discuss your debut album.
Freddie Gibbs: The Baby-Faced Killa, yeah, that’s going to be the best sh*t you ever heard.
AllHipHop.com: [laughter] There’s that humility.
Freddie Gibbs: [laughter] Nah, but it’s going to be some classic sh*t, real talk. Once I piece it together the way I want it to be; it’s going to be dope. I got a lot of time to make it; it’s all good. Plus, I got some other projects that I’m going to drop, too. I’m going to serve muthaf*ckas, hit ‘em in they mouth with a lot of sh*t. It’s going down. I got a lot of artistic sh*t that I want to come with. And the Baby-Faced Killa is going to be icing on the cake.
AllHipHop.com: And we love cake.
Freddie Gibbs: [laughter] The icing on the cake, and I’m even going to have sh*t for the ladies on there.
AllHipHop.com: I hear you talking.
AllHipHop.com: How do you view women? When you talk about pimping, are you talking about pimping the microphone; or, do you actually have females out there on the track?
Freddie Gibbs: Pimping-wise, I can’t say I haven’t dibbled and dabbled in that area of expertise. For the most part, I ain’t guerilla pimped no b***h. I wasn’t beating no b***h. I presented a female with an opportunity and we had a business agreement; that’s all that was. But, for the most part that’s pimping; pimping can be anything, getting something out of anybody.
AllHipHop.com: So, you never fought a woman or anything like that?
Freddie Gibbs: No. I don’t view women in a negative way. You got to do what you got to do out here, you know what I mean. I got a mother and a sister. I don’t view women in a negative way. I don’t think every woman is a hoe or sh*t or nothing like that.
AllHipHop.com: Given your profession, when you run across a good woman do you recognize it?
Freddie Gibbs: I can recognize it. There’s a lot of bullsh*t women out here, so I can recognize a good one.
AllHipHop.com: Anything else?
Freddie Gibbs: Baby-Faced Killa, that sh*t is going to be a classic.
Spotted @ AllHipHop