Born unto a city corroded by economic decay, Freddie Gibbs (né Fredrick Tipton) has a story to which many people can relate. Christened by streets no larger than cell-blocks, Gangsta Gibbs has seen a lot. The Gary, Indiana native is more familiar with E. 17th Virginia St., than he is with 2300 Jackson Street. The pursuit of easy money tried to erase his soul; work blurred morality. Sorrow, held captive behind tired eyelids, turned savage and threatened to drown its captor. Self-preservation in mind, Freddie picked up the pen. Hip-hop is salvation. Freddie Gibbs writes his life.
"I put my whole life into everything I do [and] into every body of work that I make," states the CTE-signed MC. Cold Day In Hell, the latest mixtape by Gibbs was met by critical acclaim. In this exclusive BallerStatus interview, Freddie Gibbs shares his insight beyond the bars, Young Jeezy, and politics.
Read along and get to know the man who is known from his cadence and his candor.
BallerStatus.com: How do you balance your humility with your slick mouth?
Freddie Gibbs: That's a good question. You definitely got to have that balance. You got to let people know that you're definitely humble and you're grateful for everything God's given you. But at the same time, you got to let motherf***ers know that you don't take no sh**, and you ain't gonna stand to be treated like a hoe. So, I just create that balance. I'm just a cool n**** until you get out of line.
BallerStatus.com: Let's start out with your mixtape, Cold Day In Hell. I enjoyed listening to this tape; you had me creaming. Some of the stuff you were saying made me envision you in a classroom as Professor Gibbs. Then you would say some off-the-wall sh**. It made me think, you have to have hands on you, because your mouth is too reckless.
Freddie Gibbs: You said, I gotta have what, to say some sh**? [snickers]
BallerStatus.com: You gotta have hands, you have to be able to fight, because your mouth is reckless.
Freddie Gibbs: Oh yeah, definitely, definitely.
BallerStatus.com: One of my favorite tracks from your tape is "187 Proof." The lyrics are poignant, but they seem so effortless. "I grew up wishing my life would be like the Cosby's / I go that extra mile to escape this ghetto monotony / See how this vicious cycle could f*** with you psychologically / You best cooperate with the state or become they property..." Wow!
Freddie Gibbs: Right.
BallerStatus.com: Then towards the end you say, "...go stupid like I rode the bus with Waka Flocka..." It made me laugh out loud. Your duality -- how can you do all that on one record?
Freddie Gibbs: I just made reference to a little Internet video I saw; that's all, "#ShawtBusShawty."
BallerStatus.com: Do you actually listen to Brotha Lynch, or were you just saying his name to emphasize a point?
Freddie Gibbs: No, I listen to him. I grew up listening to him.
BallerStatus.com: Have you had the opportunity to meet him?
Freddie Gibbs: Nah, that would be dope, though. I listen to him, though.
BallerStatus.com: The way that he twists words is fantastic.
Freddie Gibbs: Yeah, he's a legend, man. He just doesn't get his credit. But, you know, he's definitely a legend, though.
BallerStatus.com: I agree. On "Rob Me A N****," did you have to pay K.R.I.T. for that beat?
Freddie Gibbs: (laughs) Of course. We exchange, me and K.R.I.T. So, we always work together. We exchange music all the time; that's my dude.
BallerStatus.com: "Anything To Survive," provoked some questions. Can you be moral while you're in the survival-of-the-fittest-mode? Does hunger or yearning to obtain more excuse poor behavior?
Freddie Gibbs: Yes, you definitely got to have morality. You have to have some kind of moral compass; you can't just be doing whatever. I ain't about to kill no babies, or no sh** like that. But, some n****s will and some won't, you know what I'm saying? If you don't have some type of morals, if not, what are you? An animal?
BallerStatus.com: With you being in the music business, do you still have morals?
Freddie Gibbs: Somewhat, yeah, not very many.
BallerStatus.com: (chuckles) Just the important ones?
Freddie Gibbs: Just the important ones; that's it.
BallerStatus.com: "Let Ya Nuts Hang" is my other favorite track.
Freddie Gibbs: I wonder why.
BallerStatus.com: "...Caught in this cycle, Black American psychopathic / And I can't do right, n****, doing wrong was my rite-of-passage..." Is this how you still feel or is this a metaphor for the Black man's burden?
Freddie Gibbs: Yeah, that's how I feel. That is what I'm built off of. That is what people know me for, you know?
BallerStatus.com: When you say "Black American psychopathic" -- is this the way America made you, or is this how Black men are conditioned to prey upon one another?
Freddie Gibbs: Yeah, it's definitely the way the country made me. I am a direct descendent of all the negative sh** in this country. So, that's just how I feel about it; I'm Black-American psychopathic.
BallerStatus.com: Do you think the "eye-for-an-eye" behavior is the American way, or the way of the streets?
Freddie Gibbs: That's the human-way, not the American way; it's just human nature. If you take mine, I'll take yours. If you sh** in my grass I'll sH** in your grass. It's just human nature.
BallerStatus.com: "My Homeboy's Girlfriend" is from a personal account, or you're speaking on life in general?
Freddie Gibbs: Everything is a personal account.
Freddie Gibbs: Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. That's some sh** that a lot of n****s go through, and a lot of n****s and deal with. I think that a lot of n****s are scared to admit that and express that they could do something so wrong. But, I talk about who we are, ain't nobody's perfect. You know what I mean? At the same time, like I said, it comes back down to [having] morals. The whole CD is about morality. In the first record I say, "...enough to break morals for the love of this cash..." The theme of the whole sh** is testing your morals, you know what I mean?
BallerStatus.com: Given that you gave us, "My Homeboys Girlfriend," does it make you more of a man, because you're comfortable showing your vulnerabilities?
Freddie Gibbs: That's basically my whole thing. I can stand up and admit my strengths, as well as my vulnerabilities and weaknesses, you know what I mean?
BallerStatus.com: How are you able to share something that personal?
Freddie Gibbs: It's easy. I think it's something that needed to be said. I don't think that nobody made a song like that. I got the concept from 8 Ball, but I used my experience and put my own twist on it. I'm being real, you know what I mean? A lot of that sh** just stings -- you're like, "I can't believe that n**** said that."
BallerStatus.com: I was conflicted. First, I thought you were on some snake sh**, but you don't know how you'll behave until you're in a certain situation. I went from thinking, doesn't this make him a bitch ass n****, to he has the integrity to show us some of his bogus lapses in judgment.
Freddie Gibbs: I wouldn't do that sh** now. But, we make mistakes when you're young.
BallerStatus.com: With "Natural High," I just wanted for you to have Devin [The Dude] on it. Can we get him on the remix? Have you recently spoke with Devin?
Freddie Gibbs: I haven't talked recently, but that's a possibility. That would be dope. That's a good idea though. You should be an A&R, or some sh**. I definitely respect Devin.
BallerStatus.com: Given that you're linked up with Young Jeezy's C.T.E. label, I'd like to ask you a few questions about your interactions with Jeezy. So far, what have been the most insightful things that you've learned from him?
Freddie Gibbs: Basically, [I was] looking at his album recording process. I took a lot of that and I applied that to me putting out A Cold Day In Hell. It's his whole work ethic -- from [track] sequencing, all the way down. So, I took notes. I was going to out the sh** in June. Then I seen how he was recording 103, with changing sh**, and moving it around -- he makes sure everything is perfect. So, I did that with my sh**. I got in with him and got reinvigorated. I was like, "I'ma go in and change the whole CD." It didn't sound like this at first. So, I got true inspiration off of that.
BallerStatus.com: Gangsta Gibbs is a one way that you've been described. Do you embrace the notion of being labeled a "gangsta rapper?" What do you do to try to surpass any labels that you encounter?
Freddie Gibbs: Do I embrace being a "gangsta" rapper? Yeah, that's the type of sh** I make. That's the type of sh** I came up on. It is what it is; I ain't trippin'. There's nothing wrong with being labeled a "gangsta" rapper; that's the type of sh** I make. Look at Ice Cube, he's a gangsta rapper. He's versatile. Look at how far he's gone in the entertainment world. He's blossomed and he's grown. I don't think the term handicaps me in any way, whatsoever. I think it can actually help me. Especially, due to the fact that so many n****s in this sh** is p****. So, when you got a whole bunch of p**** ass n****s rappin' and a couple of real n****s, you know you stand out. So, I think it's great. It's fun being Gangsta Gibbs.
BallerStatus.com: When you view your reflection, what do you think? What are your thoughts? Can you sleep at night? Are you at peace with your actions?
Freddie Gibbs: I mean, it was some things that kept me up at night. In my life, I think I've already progressed to the point to where I have a relationship with God. That put me in a position to be able to make sure my life goes on. You can't dwell on the past. It'll consume you; you'll be dead right there with it. So, I ain't really trippin' on nothing. I can sleep at night. When I look in the mirror, I know I don't do no fraudulent bullsh**. That be them n****s that's characters. They can't look themselves in the mirror, because they [are] some Goofys. I'm comfortable, I'm super comfortable.
BallerStatus.com: What can you tell me about Scarface, Jeezy, and Gibbs? Will this track be on Jeezy's album? Or, is this something we have to look forward to in the future?
Freddie Gibbs: It's going to be on somebody's album. I can't tell you whose. It'll be one of the three.
BallerStatus.com: But, you won't tell us when and where?
Freddie Gibbs: Nah, you'll have to ask Jeezy that.
Editor's Note: This interview was conducted before Herman Cain announced the suspension of his presidential campaign.
BallerStatus.com: Thank you. What are your thoughts on Herman "LetMeTouchIt" Cain and Mitt "N***erhead" Romney for the GOP nomination?
Freddie Gibbs: (laughs) I f*** with Herman Cain, I was just telling my n****s that. For him to be on the Republican ticket, and as far as for him to be leading in the polls, I respect that. I ain't voting for that black ass n****! (laughs) That sh** is real run. To see two n****s go at it for the presidential seat, that's going to be a sight to see. I hope that he gets the Republican nomination, man. Really, I don't give a f*** who becomes the next president. They're going to put who they want in there, regardless. I'm just concerned about the people that's effected by the government. I think the troops should come home and all of that. There are a lot of families getting f***ed up.
BallerStatus.com: Is the nation ready for a possibly Black-led Republican and Democratic ticket?
Freddie Gibbs: The U.S. probably ain't ready for it, White America probably ain't ready for it. They're going to find some way to get Cain out of there. It would be cool if he won the Republican nomination. But, they're going to find some way to get him out of that sh**. All these hoes coming forward saying he touched the p****, and took the p****. His ass is going to be out of there. One thing about America, they're not going to elect a motherf***in' rapist [if you aren't a white Kennedy.]
BallerStatus.com: How can we continue to support you?
Freddie Gibbs: This debut album, Baby Face Killa, is about to come out. We're about to be done finishing that up. I'm going to be on the 103 album. So, I'm just working on it.
BallerStatus.com: As long as you remain authentic, BallerStatus will continue to support your efforts. Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Freddie Gibbs: I f*** with BallerStatus, man. I would like to thank y'all for having me and letting a n**** do this interview. It's one of the only jobs that a n**** can function at while he's high. I love my job! I'm cool, man. Just thank [you to] everybody that supported the Cold Day In Hell project. I did that for the people, for the fans. I gave that sh** away free. I showed that what I drop for free is better than what these n****s is trying to sell you, or sold you. So, thanks for everybody supporting me.