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Album review: Freddie Gibbs' “Str8 Killa No Filla” mixtape & “Str8 Killa” EP

August 9, 2010 |  6:53 pm

FREDDIE_GIBBS_175 “Rap ain’t nothing but talking [trash], I’m just the best at it,” Freddie Gibbs crowed on “Crushin’ Feelins,” one of the standout tracks on the “Str8 Killa No Filla” mixtape that the Gary, Indiana-born gangster rapper has released in conjunction with his debut EP, “Str8 Killa.” The statement attests to only half of what makes the former Interscope refugee-turned-mixtape messiah one of the brightest talents to emerge in recent memory.

Blessed with a wrathful Swisher Sweet-scarred baritone and a cadence as fluid as the Hennessy he swills, Gibbs, now based in L.A., glides gracefully across soulful, sun-damaged, chest-beating workouts like “Live by the Game” and “The Coldest.” But he earns his reputation on tracks like the Bun B-aided “Rock Bottom” and “National Anthem,” where he poignantly memorializes the period when he was “younger, very ambitious, but often blinded by [his] hunger.”

Often branded a revivalist, Gibbs is also willing to buck tradition: the baleful Delta Blues posse cut, “Oil Money,” features Dan Auerbach of Black Keys on hook duty, yielding a result as wicked and rich as its title would indicate. After all, as this accomplished one-two punch attests, Gibbs boasts the rare ability to be both crude and refined.

—Jeff Weiss

Freddie Gibbs
“Str8 Killa No Filla” mixtape / “Str8 Killa” EP
Three and a half stars (out of four) for both