freddie gibbs you only live 2wice cover

Freddie Gibbs is back. But he won’t be the same Freddie Gibbs from here on out.

“Show you how in one summer a n*gga could lose it all,” Freddie Gibbs says on “20 Karat Jesus”. The attachment behind Gibbs’ words are the drums and piano section that feel like a cherished leftover from Piñata. What little dark comedy Gibbs usually sprinkles in his raps are absent; instead replaced with cold conviction and remorse. The two most traumatic moments of Gibbs’ career have been documented rather extensively. The first, a shooting in 2014 left him unscathed. Bullets whizzed by but Gibbs suffered nothing from it.

The second, and arguably the one that is the sticking point of You Only Live 2wice was the sexual assault charge he faced last summer in Austria. Ultimately, he was acquitted but not before he met his lowest point. Gibbs has always fancied himself to be adjace to Tupac Shakur. Before he went away to Clinton Correctional Facility on sexual assault charges in 1994, ‘Pac made the best album of his career in Me Against The World. Yet the trauma and isolation of jail, combined with his own shooting incident in November of 1994 irreparably scarred him.

How did ‘Pac respond musically after sitting in jail for nearly a year? He was vengeful, filled with enough bile to add to his own self-prophecy of destruction. The first bits of Gibbs’ fans got upon his release stuck to a low-profile. Then “Crushed Glass” arrived earlier this month and all of the introspection we thought Gibbs would deliver was matched with the same sneering bravado that made him a favorite. In 2017, someone openly celebrating beating a sexual assault case sounds a bit uneasy. It doesn’t gel in a world that has grown more acceptable and knowledgable of sexual assault.

“It was time I started living for my daughter.” – Freddie Gibbs

As the 30 minutes of You Only Live 2wice prove, Gibbs can’t hide his hands or his happiness. Jail kept him away from his infant daughter; being locked up in a foreign country put him in a far more crushing prison. He recants his days in the belly of the beast on “Homesick,” a mini love letter to his daughter Irie. He almost broke down entering the library at the prison, all of the books in German. With nothing to find an escape, his fiancée Erica Dickerson flew across the pond just to assist him. “It was time I started living for my daughter,” Gibbs assessed.

A cursory glance over Gibbs’ discography and you can pick out the bouncy, celebratory moments. “Bout It” with Kirko Bangz; “Extradite” with Black Thought; “Eastside Moonwalker” and more. Peel time even further backwards into the mind of Gibbs and that paranoia still rests on his head and voice. When he was still clutching to white T-shirts and fitted hats he laughed off a crazy ex on “This Is How We Do”. He was cautionary in regards to women when he ripped Devin the Dude’s “Stray” to shreds. Yet his pride beamed at every walk and step.

You Only Live 2wice attempts to shake the pain off but it still remains. No matter how often the beats, glorious and moody decide to switch up, Freddie is in attack mode. He’s ruthless in adopting new flows, new tricks to relay what his summer from hell was like. “Alexys” starts off stepping on strings before soul samples add a little weight to the skeleton. By then, the Gangsta Gibbs from Gary shows up with a little hesitation in his voice, lighter and nimble. “Feel like I’m outgrowing all my friends / N*ggas thinkin’ small / I’ma have to write them all a check / Just to get the shit resolved…” With so many thoughts of appeasing his friends before they turn on him weighing him down, it’s amazing Gibbs didn’t lose it all together. His enemies are forever a different story. They’ll always get his best venom. His friends? They bring the biggest complications.

You Only Live 2wice attempts to shake the pain off but it still remains.

From there, Gibbs’ audio return into the world plays out as one would expect. He combats paranoia, varying fears, a multitude of faceless friends who were once staunch supporters but now have turned on him and more. When he stares at himself on “Homesick,” it feels like the first day out. The day he prayed about for days, if not months overseas. Who the hell is he now? A great rapper with a wall of creativity added to his psyche; sure. But he’s a father and soon to be husband. Cutting life the same way won’t work. Gangsta Gibbs returned to America and music a changed man, wiser and dealing with the same stress that benefits a war veteran.

Freddie Gibbs came home looking for normalcy and a rap version of a Purple Heart. You Only Live 2wice brings him only one step closer.

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