The Cavalier Daily
Serving the University Community Since 1890

Freddie Gibbs sets his sights on a Grammy with “$oul $old $eparately”

The decorated rapper proves once again he’s an essential part of the rap scene

<p>The “$oul $old $eparately” experience is appealing for long-time fans or any music listener who might want to get into the gangsta rapper’s music, and the project is a great addition to the incredible catalog of music Gibbs has created in his career.</p>

The “$oul $old $eparately” experience is appealing for long-time fans or any music listener who might want to get into the gangsta rapper’s music, and the project is a great addition to the incredible catalog of music Gibbs has created in his career.

Throughout the past decade, Freddie Gibbs — a drug dealer turned rapper from Gary, Indiana — has continued climbing the rap game like no other. Touting a perfectly tuned flow and lyrical complexity in ambitious tracks along with hard-hitting freestyles, Gibbs has become one of rap’s most significant voices. 

With well-received albums capturing critical acclaim and audiences’ attention — including a Grammy nomination for his previous LP — Gibbs was ready for another big record to send his name and talent further into mainstream stardom. His latest album, “$oul $old $eparately,” includes some of Gibbs’ best efforts to date, making the record another great showing for the rapper’s influence in the industry. 

Off the bat, the album begins with the extravagant and celebratory track “Couldn’t Be Done,” packed with lush orchestral instrumentation and a beautiful soul sample to compliment Gibbs narrating his come-up. The track sets the mood for a confident, uncompromising album. An audio recording at the end also marks the beginning of the album’s story of it taking place in the fictional Triple S “$$$” Hotel, Resort and Casino. If this album is a resort, the bombastic opening track is the giant golden lobby inviting the listener in.

Unfortunately, the front half of the record fails to reach the same energy or bring something new for the listener. While tracks like “Pain & Strife” and “Too Much” contain great bars from Gibbs and the technically impressive flow he’s known for, they fail to stand out in a discography filled with more aesthetically distinct beats and artistic risks that set him apart from mainstream conventions.

While Gibbs’ choice to bring in a wide array of producers to appear on this album gives it star power, it loses some of the magic that would have appeared from his one-on-one collaborations. Previous Gibbs LP’s — such as the lavish “Alfredo” produced by The Alchemist and the phenomenal rap opus “Piñata” produced by Madlib — benefited from a partnership where the producer's distinct style joined listeners throughout the whole record. 

Surprisingly, the variety of talents present on his newest album have led to a lot of these tracks blending together. While there are positives to this — almost every track has a seamless transition — the cohesiveness has created an end product more commercial and conforming to industry expectations than long time listeners might expect.

However, “$oul $old $eparately” luckily has enough highlights in the the tracklist to make the experience worthwhile. “Dark Hearted” features a haunting, yet beautiful beat from electronic artist James Blake that Gibbs is able to make an intimate, ferocious experience. “Feel No Pain” features production and vocals from one of R&B’s top talents, Anderson .Paak, creating a smooth and groovy track that also features a cold feature from Wu-Tang legend, Raekwon. Another notable feature is fellow rapper Pusha T who appears on “Gold Rings,” making the track a great highlight in the “$$$” resort’s world of drugs and money. However, most of the features fail to deliver on the same level as Gibbs and end up leaving more to be desired throughout. Rick Ross joins Gibbs on “Lobster Omelette” but ultimately fails to make an impression as it’s a short and unremarkable performance for him.

While the album stumbles in the first half, the overall experience incorporates the artistic ambition Gibbs brings to rap. Previous tracks in his discography might be more memorable, but there is not a single track on “$oul $old $eparately” where Gibbs is not delivering on some level. The only moments he stumbles vocally are his excursions into singing on hooks, which leave more to be desired. 

Even if the experience does not stack up to the ambition of some of Gibbs’ previous releases, it’s still a good showing from one of rap’s most consistent voices. The tracks create a worthwhile set piece for Gibb’s excursion into rap appealing directly to mainstream listeners — and the Grammys academy after a disappointing loss last year. The “$oul $old $eparately” experience is appealing for long-time fans or any music listener who might want to get into the rapper’s music, and the project is a great addition to the incredible catalog of music Gibbs has created in his career.

Comments

Latest Podcast

From her love of Taylor Swift to a late-night Yik Yak post, Olivia Beam describes how Swifties at U.Va. was born. In this week's episode, Olivia details the thin line Swifties at U.Va. successfully walk to share their love of Taylor Swift while also fostering an inclusive and welcoming community.