Rapper Freddie Gibbs has just dropped a brand-new album, Alfredo, in collaboration with producer, The Alchemist. Gibbs’ last album, Bandana, that dropped back in 2019 showed him tag-teaming with notorious producer Madlib who is known to have quite a fantastical, mystical quality to his beats. Madlib was the perfect paradox to Gibbs’ more hard-demeanor in his approach to the bars, and his dedication to speaking on his troubled past that many African American males are subjected to – a life of gang violence, forced into serving drugs, incarceration, and the constant influx of losing loved ones due to police brutality.
In this way, while Gibbs was utilizing each bar he had to expose the harsh truth and effects of racial injustice in his own private life – Madlib was able to bring out an angelic, incredibly lucid sonic translation that allowed fans to see how Gibbs was able to manifest his way out of the life he was forced into through pursuing his dreams as a rapper.
On Bandana, Gibbs chronicled his journey from his time spent behind bars writing bars, to pushing drugs to survive. He then was able to transform a level of injustice into wealth and success. Bandana showcased Gibbs feeling an unwavering sense of self-righteousness and pride in the way he was able to take broken pieces of glass and weave them into a crystal ball – allowing him to finally see all the fruits of his labor, trauma bear seeds and sprout gloriously before his eyes.
However, on his new album Alfredo, we see Gibbs still speaking on the racial inequity that is plaguing African Americans but, that sense of earlier pride in the success he has accumulated quickly shapeshifts into the presence of a guilty conscience. Gibbs is now telling the stories of his brothers around him who are still living in an environment filled with poverty, violence, and the constant lingering of grief snaking its way through the streets.
Gibbs starts to feel a sort of shame wash over him throughout the album. He goes through an exploration of derealization as he looks around at his environment with fresh fettuccine served on a silver platter, fast expensive cars, and an abundance of cash. To compliment this self-internalization that Gibbs is experiencing throughout these tracks – The Alchemist keeps the beats doused in nostalgia, utilizing blues-inspired horns, electric chord rifts, and sinister synthesizers that haunt the instrumentation.
Gibbs has some impressive artists as features on this album as well, including Benny the Butcher, Rick Ross, Tyler the Creator, and Conway the Machine. Alfredo takes us through a journey of Gibbs transforming his sense of guilt or shame for the wealth and success he now possesses into gratitude and worthiness. In order to bring back his sense of knowing that he is deserving of all the blessings he has been given; he utilizes the symbolism of god and religion to bring this sense of faith in relation to himself knowing he is fulfilling his prophecy.
On the track “God Is Perfect,” the beat again has a thrilling, dark quality to the rhythm as he spits about spending times in deep contemplation, prayer, and the ways in which Gibbs gives back to the black community; by never shying away from being a force of representation and vessel for the realities of oppression to be illuminated.
He raps, “I don’t want to speak on this shit but it really been rackin’ my brain now, cause really I fuck with this rap but my n***** still sellin’ cocaine. Still rep that block, Subhan’Allah, I pray to mecca. All this gang shit in my vein, I got the rake, I got the blessin.”
On the track “Scottie Beam,” which features Rick Ross, Gibbs diverges into the disgusting nature of videos of black bodies being murder in a surplus on the evening news and social media. This track has a righteous amount of soul vocals being lopped in the background, with delicate piano keys that are so breezy they sound like the light pluck of harp.
He raps, “Yeah the revolution is the genocide. Look, your execution will be televised. Will never let this industry demasculinize me. He pulled me over, I asked him, “Yo what’s the problem, sir? I swerved to duck the potholes, man, I had no option, sir. Just let me go ‘cause my license, insurance proper sir.”
Gibbs in this track is able to dismantle and shed his sense of guilt because at the end of the day, he reaches the conclusion that the color of his skin will always have the ability to not only take away his blessings he now has, but his life. No matter how rich or successful he is, Gibbs speaks on the realization that to a police officer, he will still just be seen as another African American male that they perceive as a threat to society. To them, although, he has escaped a life of crime, to them he still remains a forever criminal.
On the track “Babies & Fools,” Gibbs completely abandons that guilt he was speaking on at the beginning of the album and embraces the level of the commitment and integrity he has given to his art, to rapping to his community through his vulnerability. “Babies & Fools” has heavenly strings pronounced in the background, while a saxophone weaves its way in and out of the beat.
He raps, “Friends was tryna count my pockets like I don’t deserve a million. Bitch, I deserve a trillion, cause I would’ve did a trillion years for these n*****, whole bid for these n*****. I gave ‘em (All of me), N****, I gave the street (All of me).”
It almost feels as though the universe was conspiring with Gibbs in terms of timing – this album’s message could not have come at a more crucial moment in history, where we have now seen multiple black lives that have been taken recently due to police brutality. We see Gibbs adding fuel to the fire of revolution towards fighting oppression. Alfredo is speaking to the thousands who are outraged and protesting all around the world.