It’s been awhile since we’ve heard from Freddie Gibbs. After releasing his very well-received album, Shadow of a Doubt, Gibbs was detained in France for rape allegations. Something that had supposedly taken place in Austria (Gibbs was doing shows in Europe). Fortunately, Gibbs was released September 30th, 2016, and all charges were dropped. The hip-hop world rejoiced, not only for Gibbs sake, but for the fact that we would likely be receiving a new project from the Gary, Indiana rapper sooner than later. Lord behold (no pun intended), Gibbs announced You Only Live 2wice, and revealed the album artwork, which resembles an old Renaissance painting clearly depicting Gibbs as Jesus Christ. The title and cover art clearly implied that this was Gibbs’ “resurrection” from the dark times he experienced not only in France, but from further in his past as well. This was very well the case with this album. YOL2 is a great comeback for Gibbs and is short, sweet, and to the point.
First things first. THIS. INTRO. SLAPS. I mean goddamn. “20 Karat Jesus” leads this project off and really sets the tone for the rest of the project. Gibbs’ speedy and raspy delivery in the first half of this track is complimented excellently with a surging, yet atmospheric, bass-booming beat. However, the beat switches into a heavenly, grandiose boomer. I’ve never been to church but I’d imagine that it would sound something like that beat. The track ends with Slink Johnson a.k.a. Black Jesus providing some appropriate sermons.
Two consistent themes in this project are reflection and redemption. Redemption from not only the rape charge, but redemption from his drug dealing past. On tracks like “Alexys” and “Dear Maria”, Gibbs finds himself reflecting on this very topic. On “Alexys” Gibbs raps, “I first taste cocaine in the 10th grade, homie at the table choppin’ Rick James…” Obviously we are all pretty familiar with the fact that Freddie was a dope dealer. In fact, this topic can get somewhat repetitive on the album. However, what saves this potentially flaw is the production, which is stellar throughout, even on the more average tracks. Gotta give a shoutout to Speakerbomb and Blair Norf, both who handled the majority of the production on this project, and a majority on Shadow of a Doubt.
Perhaps the track that had the most impact on me personally was the lead single of this album, “Crushed Glass”. Like I said previously, the themes of this album consist of reflection and redemption. Both of these topics are covered on this song. It seems as if this song is written from the perspective of Freddie while in jail. The first lines of the song support this: “My future started yesterday n*gga, every minute feelin’ different, I am not the same n*gga…” Other lyrics mentioned later depict Freddie himself in the prison. Gibbs uses this song to discuss the pain and suffering he went through, as well as the suffering his wife, Erica went through not being able to see him. I believe the song title, “Crushed Glass” is a double entendre. While it is an obvious reference to crack cocaine, I believe it is also a reference to his wife seeing him through the glass divider of the prison cell. The “crushed glass” represents the horrible shape Freddie was in at the time. The music video is also very well done. It depicts him lost in a desert. An obvious metaphor for his time in prison.
Despite being 8 tracks, this album has a decent amount to it. It was short and sweet, had thoughtful and hard lyrics, and also had magnificent production. This was a great comeback for Freddie Kane. Without any trouble, Gibbs has picked up where he left off with Shadow of a Doubt. If you’re a die-hard Gibbs fan, this album will most definitely please you.