There are duos who have shaped rap, couples who we thought were stuck in another temporality, who no longer produce or whose members have disappeared. There’s OutKast, Gang Starr and Mobb Deep, pioneers of 90s hip-hop who, working in tandem, understood that unity is a strength and leads to cult albums. Freddie Gibbs is their spiritual heir. Originally from Indiana, a former dealer who found salvation in rap music, this son of a police officer and a postal worker has understood the importance of surrounding himself with gifted producers: with them at his side, he imagines music that is both complex and joyful with surprising and iconoclastic albums on the frontiers of hip-hop and jazz.
1. From Madlib to The Alchemist
First came Madlib, a loyal collaborator of MF Doom and J Dilla (a member of Slum Village who died in 2006) with whom Freddie Gibbs created two albums. The first, Piñata, both a commercial and critical success, was released in 2014, while the second, Bandana came out last year, having been composed by the American rapper while he was serving a prison sentence in Toulouse - accused of rape in 2015 and cleared four years later. With this jazz and hip-hop producer, Freddie Gibbs has changed the codes of contemporary rap all together. No longer about big boobs and fast cars, these lyrics have meaning, dealing with betrayal, politics and meritocracy. And they were composed with the biggest names in urban American music, from Black Thought and The Roots to New Yorker Yasiin Bey – previously known as Mos Def and a member of the Black Star duo.