NPR logo

Freddie Gibbs With Ali Shaheed Muhammad And Frannie Kelley

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/462274615/462419604" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Freddie Gibbs: 'I'm Not Just Living For Myself'

Music Articles

Freddie Gibbs: 'I'm Not Just Living For Myself'

Freddie Gibbs With Ali Shaheed Muhammad And Frannie Kelley

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/462274615/462419604" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Freddie Gibbs in Los Angeles in December. GL Askew II for NPR hide caption

toggle caption GL Askew II for NPR

New father Freddie Gibbs spoke with Microphone Check about his inspirations, including the memoirs of Rick James and George Clinton, his business acumen, what the war in the streets is really about and, of course, Gucci.

FRANNIE KELLEY: We're really excited to talk to you after another album.

FREDDIE GIBBS: Yeah. I'm excited that I — I wasn't even going to put it out this year, but I just felt like the game kind of needed it. I was just looking at what was out there, and I just felt like I could always make a mark, some kind of way. So it was good exercise for me. That's what I look at it as.

KELLEY: Like a exercise for how you were working or as sort of for the game as a whole?

GIBBS: I think that, like I said, the game as a whole needed another Freddie Gibbs project. For my core fanbase and just, you know, for guys that want to break away from the norm of kind of what's going on in music right now. I think — from a street standpoint — I don't think a lot of — it ain't too many guys that talk about the things that I talk about in the way that I talk about them, so I just felt like I — I needed to put something else out.

And, you know, it's kind of like what we was talking about earlier, like when boxers can't stay out the ring. You know what I mean? I couldn't stay out the ring this year. I had to get in there throw a couple punches. So it's good. It's real — it's healthy for me as a writer, a MC, to just keep putting out projects.

I like where music's at right now. Where you don't really need the big huge roll-out campaign to put a record out nowadays. Like Pusha T just put his record out today, I heard. So it's just like, people just popping records out. With this independence and this Internet, it's like, it gives the artist more control. I'm really loving that right now. A lot of people don't like it, but I love it. I like the way — where music's at right now.

KELLEY: Maybe the labels don't like it.

GIBBS: Yeah. Labels don't like it. Of course.

KELLEY: And they don't like it because — I mean, I'm very interested in how you think about labels and differentiate yourself, but mostly on how you've said in interviews that they're coming to you now.

GIBBS: Right.

KELLEY: For advice.

GIBBS: I feel like some artists need a record label, and some don't. I think that — this music thing, it's like anything else that you want to get into, any other business. You gotta have money to start it up. You gotta have people to back you, people to believe in you. It's all about who you know. So it's just all about how you maneuver. I just think that the whole scope of the game has changed now to the point where, like I said, the artist have more control. And it's just on them to seize that control and how much control they actually want, you know what I mean?

Cause some people don't want those responsibilities. It's tough when you gotta run a independent situation on your own. I know it's tough on me sometimes. When you gotta go pick up the director, get the video equipment, get the video shot right, the video treatment, go in the studio, pay the bills, and perform. And be the talent. So it's just — it's difficult. Everybody can't stomach that or fathom the thought of having to do that on a daily basis. But I was definitely up for the challenge.

KELLEY: Yeah. And you know something about that, right?

GIBBS: Yeah, definitely.

ALI SHAHEED MUHAMMAD: Yeah, I do. That's not the highlighted side. It's not glamorous, you know, to physically be picking people up and making these arrangements and stuff like that. But it's — I like to think of it sometimes as, let's say, a very successful local breakfast or a restaurant — breakfast-type shop. And you see that person there 365 days a year and you see how successful their business is, and it's like, "I know they're making money, but they're here every day." And it's like, cause if you're not at the shop, then just one day of you not being there then, that detail can really just bring you down. And some people, they have the stamina to do that.

GIBBS: Right. And it becomes your baby, man. You know what I mean? America was built off small business owners. Then it turn into this big corporate thing. And so, like I said, I love where the game's at. It's a whole lot of small business owners in the rap game right now, and people are flourishing. People are making — guys are making a lot of money on they own.

You can't knock that. A lot of guys before us and the generations ahead of us had to take a lot of hits for us to be in this position that we in right now to go out and really monetize ourselves. You know what I'm saying? Because the record labels ran the industry for the past 60, 70 years. So when I first got started rapping, it's like, you couldn't be a rapper unless you had a record deal. Nobody really took you serious unless you were signed to somebody. I remember those days.

Now that doesn't even matter. It's like, if you tell somebody you signed to somebody, guys look at you like, "Oh, we signed too, dog." You know what I mean? If it's not — if you can't see it shining off of them that they signed to somebody, then it's like, what's the point, you know? Everybody wants to be independent now. Rap is like indie rock or something like that now.

KELLEY: Speaking of which, speaking of labels and taking advantage, can you explain for a little bit some things you've said about streaming? How people are lying about the money. Is that because basically the labels are getting paid and then not giving it to artists that are signed to them?

GIBBS: I think that — me personally, I don't think that it's possible to count how many times somebody listen to your song, and — I don't know. I just don't feel like — I don't know. That information is so convoluted, I think. But I can say that the streaming has been monetized. I've definitely gotten paid off of the streaming. I mean, it does add to your sales and things of that nature.

But I do hear other kind of stories where artists are like, "Oh, I got this many streams. I done seen this." Or things of that nature. But then that could be, you know, your paperwork situation as well. But I think they're kind of getting a grip on the streaming thing and paying artists for it. It's a start, I always say. I don't think that it's all the way transparent as of yet, but I think that it's definitely — it's a start.

KELLEY: OK.

GIBBS: Cause we need the streaming right now, man. Cause record sales is — it is what it is. So it's just like with — I mean, I streamed a lot of artists' records this year, just off of — and I love them. I probably listen to them on streaming every day, you know what I'm saying?

KELLEY: Yeah.

GIBBS: Should I buy the record? Maybe. But I mean, I'm spending $10 a month to get the stream, so it's like, might as well put it to use. So that's just the future of music.

MUHAMMAD: It is the future of music. I just think in cases of Adele or Beyoncé or Taylor Swift where they have restricted their albums from streaming, and we see that those have been the largest record sales in the years that those records were released.

So it just always — as much as you want to embrace technology and you see the advances of it, it just comes to question as to how much then are we, as the artist, losing out because, for an example, the record companies, they got such a huge advance from the Spotifys, from these other streaming services. And they're not passing it along.

And so the infrastructure, it seems like there's a silver lining where your music is heard and discovered, but then, at the same time, you not really seeing the full profit from your music being played.

GIBBS: Yeah. It's kind of like a double-edged sword, I think. Because it's different for a Freddie Gibbs and a Beyoncé, you know what I'm saying? Beyoncé's on a whole different kind of level. Adele is on a whole different kind of level of selling music. They gotta history of selling 4, 5 million records every time they come out. So it's just like, for a indie rap guy, that's — the streaming, and the Pandoras, the Spotifys, the Apple Musics, all that stuff is nothing but a plus to a guy like me. Because it puts me in areas that I wouldn't normally be in. I'm not going to get the same looks as Adele. So I gotta take advantage of the things that I can get and monetize those for myself, you know?

MUHAMMAD: Do you think about that when you going in to make a record? Do you feel that there's hesitation in how you're going to move? Or do you feel like it's enough for you to — you know how exactly you going to direct a project?

GIBBS: I think that — when I go in, I try to just catch a vibe and vibe it out.

I definitely inhale some of the music that's going on right now. You definitely gotta get a full scope of the game, I think, to put out something, you know what I mean? To see where the game's at. Before you just jump right in it. Like, Kareem Abdul Jabbar wouldn't just jump in the NBA right now cause he'd be like, "What the f***?"

So it's like, the way that they — the way that the young guys are playing the game right now, you kind of got to play it — play that to your advantage. And if you can't play, you kind of gotta get out of the league. I think that you gotta adapt with rap right now, as well as holding your own integrity. And that's kind of hard to do. A lot of people can't do that. A lot of people will go with these trends, and they gone when the trend is gone.

KELLEY: So who were you listening to, just to take the measure?

GIBBS: Recently. I've been listening to a lot of, like, R&B. I was listening to Jeremih's album. I was listening to Bryson Tiller's album. I just love the way they infuse the singing with the rapping. They kind of —

KELLEY: Yeah, you singing a lot more on this album.

GIBBS: Yeah. Definitely. That's probably a testament to listening to a lot of older R&B and newer R&B records. I just wanted some of the records to be a little bit more melodic. A little more catchy to bring — cause, you know, I got a certain fan group, and I just wanted to bring new people in, so — and I think that's what I was doing.

Cause a lot of people was wondering where I was going to go from that Piñata record. And I just wanted to show people how versatile I was. Cause a lot of people were expecting me to just do that same thing. And that's not what I wanted to do. No.

KELLEY: Are you nervous at all about singing on stage?

GIBBS: Not at all. I sing in the shower. I'm not embarrassed.

KELLEY: I mean, so do I, but —

GIBBS: Not one bit. I love it, man. I look at it as just, you know, it's music. It's — I'm not a Luther Vandross or anything of that nature. But I'm on point with what I'm doing, and as long as it sound good and we making it sound great in the studio, that's all that matter.

KELLEY: Yeah. I really like it. I like "Careless" a lot.

GIBBS: Yeah, that's one of my favorite records. I'm about to shoot a video for that soon, so — and it's just flexing my skills that I've been having behind the scenes, that I've been writing some of this stuff for people. So it's just I just had to apply it to some of my own music.

KELLEY: Was there a vocal coach involved?

GIBBS: Not at all. I had to coach myself. Like I said, it just goes from listening to a lot of older R&B. Reading a lot of books as well. People don't —

KELLEY: Like what?

GIBBS: Reading a lot of autobiographies, like Rick James' autobiography, George Clinton's

KELLEY: That George Clinton one is so good.

GIBBS: Yeah, it is, right? I didn't know that he was —

KELLEY: Talk about the business stuff, too.

GIBBS: I didn't know that he was like a barber at first, you know what I mean?

KELLEY: Right? Yeah.

GIBBS: That was crazy. I was like, "George Clinton was a barber? That's weird." Just seeing where these guys' minds were at when they made the music that they made helped me to get inspired, to go back in and every time make another record. I feel like I need to read a book every time I make a record, because after I read that Rick James book I was totally inspired.

Because I was like, "Damn." Rick James was a R&B guy. Like, he was really one of the first guys in the — he was selling drugs to really fund his music career, because Berry Gordy didn't really want to give him a chance as an artist. He just wanted him to write, write, write for Motown. He was like, "Man, I gotta do my own thing." And it's kind of like the basis of where a lot of these rappers are right now. They're like, "Ah, man. I gotta hustle and do what I gotta do to fund my career." It's crazy to see that Rick James was actually doing that in the '60s and '70s. It was just wild.

MUHAMMAD: Where was your head in making this record?

GIBBS: I had a daughter this year, man, and that brought a lot of changes into my life. I just felt like rapping about those things. I just felt like I just couldn't hold it back, you know what I mean? A lot of my — all my music is pretty much reality-based. It's based on the things that I've been through, things that my family's been through, my friends have been through.

I was just overloaded with a lot of emotion this year. I had a lot of things happen, not just a daughter, a couple friends go to prison, couple friends die. And, you know — I had my daughter. It was just a lot of things going on, man. And I just — I felt like I really had a lot of things bottled in. I had to get them out on a record. My records are like my therapy.

MUHAMMAD: Where's the —

KELLEY: Time out.

MUHAMMAD: What?

KELLEY: Do you have baby pics?

GIBBS: Of course, I got baby pics. Of course, I got baby pics. I got them in the car. I have to get them out the car.

KELLEY: I'm so excited.

GIBBS: But I definitely got baby pics. Plenty of baby pics. I take a picture of that little girl every day.

MUHAMMAD: Is she your first child?

GIBBS: Yeah, my first child. My first one. I ain't got a whole lot of baby mamas across the world like everybody think. This one definitely my first child.

MUHAMMAD: How does she — having her — direct your art, at this point?

GIBBS: You know, your responsibility level definitely has to raise when you have a child. Cause I mean, just that alone has — me knowing — waking up every morning knowing that I'm somebody's father, I have to move different. I have to do things differently. I got to run my business more efficiently. It just makes me want to be more sharp as a businessman, as an artist, and everything. Because I gotta set an example for somebody now. I'm not just living for myself.

MUHAMMAD: Yeah. What's your — you speak about the — I don't know if it comes out as a difference between the rap game and the street life, you know, drug game, or the similarities or the let downs — it seems like there's let down in both. It comes across at times.

GIBBS: Definitely let down in both. I mean, cause I — my story is definitely unique. I came out here to California, man, and really wanted to — really had plans on doing something great. And I think that I've accomplished that. I'm miles ahead of where I was years ago.

But I know what it took to get there, you know what I mean? It was a lot of nights not eating. It was a lot of nights I'd have more drugs in my possession than I would have money. I'd be like, "Damn. I got all of this. I gotta do something with this," you know what I'm saying, "or I'm not going to be able to eat. I'm not gon' have groceries this week." Or, "I'm not going to be able to go the studio." Or, "I'm not going to be able to press promo CDs."

Just being in that position was — it was gut-wrenching at times. It was times — I don't want to sell heroin or crack. Being a direct effect on somebody's family life crumbling, that takes a toll on your mind, if you got a conscience. If you just heartless out here, then it don't matter to you. But you selling heroin to somebody mother that got four kids or something like that. And those kids aren't eating because of you. And I'm like, "Damn."

At that point, it's just like, "Damn." You don't want to — it's like your stomach or theirs. It's a sad state of affairs, man, because it's like a never-ending cycle, man. Addiction, you know, it haunts everybody: the dealer and the addict. Not just the addict. It definitely affects everybody, and it affects a whole family group.

MUHAMMAD: Why do you think with the less than glamorous aspects of having to sell drugs — obviously there's — the upside is if you're making a lot of money, if you get to that point, which is not always. It's not easy.

GIBBS: That's only one out of four drug dealers. That's like 20%, 25% of the time guys that actually succeed and have success and make six figures. Most guys don't.

MUHAMMAD: Don't. Exactly. With that — given that that's the fact, and that there comes the angst and stresses of having to — I think like you illustrate sitting in your car and you got your gun by your side or having to — you carrying this product, and there's — it's no comfort in that. And I'm just wondering —

GIBBS: Not at all.

MUHAMMAD: — what is the reason that people still go towards it.

GIBBS: You know what, man? I look at it — it's the society we live in. I think that America is just a shoot-em-up, bang bang — it's a gangster state. I think it's a gangster society. I think that we feed off of these mob movies, The Sopranos, The Wire, stuff like that. I just feel like America runs off stuff like that. And they love it. We love violence. We love violence in films and music and all of that.

With myself, I don't try to glamorize drug dealing and murder and things of that nature. I try to make it so vivid that you feel like you right there, and it kind of scare you away from it, you know what I'm saying? But that definitely doesn't have that effect on everybody. But I mean like, for a kid with nothing in a impoverished area, that drug dealer sometimes all he has to look up to. It starts at home. I wanted those things myself.

Why do we gravitate to that type of lifestyle? Why do we do that? Because it seems like black kids and Latin kids, it seem like we the only ones that really gravitate to that, you know I what mean? I don't know a 12-year-old, 13-year-old white kid that's like, "Oh, man, I want to get some crack." Or, "I want to sell dope." Or, "I want to be like this guy, that guy." I don't see that in those communities. I see it in our community. Because —

KELLEY: Yeah, but the numbers are still that white kids do more drugs than kids of color.

GIBBS: I know about doing drugs. I'm talking about like wanting to be like Tony Montana. You know what I mean?

KELLEY: Yeah, yeah.

GIBBS: I don't think that's a aspiration of a lot of white kids. I think that a lot of black kids, they see that image, and a lot of Latin kids, they see that image, and they're like, "Ah, yeah. That's what I aspire to be." And that comes from bad parenting, lack of education.

I knew right from wrong, man. I knew what was — what I shouldn't be doing and what I should be doing. I made those decisions on my own. And that's not a — not a testament to my mother or my father, anything of that. I saw something that I wanted and I wanted to take a shortcut, to take the easy way out.

My little brother's a doctor, man. You know what I mean? So he didn't do any of the things I did. But I'm glad that I was there to kind of go through that for him. I went — I feel like I went through the streets for my little brother. Cause I couldn't imagine being in the position I'm in right now, man. Cause my little brother definitely looks up to me. But he doesn't aspire to be the things that I was in the streets because he knows that's off limits to him.

Like I said, I couldn't imagine myself being in the position I'm in right now still trying to pull my little brother out of the streets. That would be horrifying to me. I definitely wouldn't want to go through that. So I'm glad that he and my younger sister definitely had the frame of mind to stay positive and keep it positive and get they degree.

KELLEY: Yeah, to what you were saying about America being a gangster state, I just watched this thing on — it's a Ken Burns thing on prohibition. This writer in Baltimore named Lawrence Burney put me onto it. And it's like, everything — you just understand a lot more about the way that the "War On Drugs" and also the weed business is taking off right now.

GIBBS: Off right now. I'm definitely involved, too. Freddie Kane. I got that.

KELLEY: Yeah. Holler at your girl, by the way.

GIBBS: I got that for you.

KELLEY: I mean, do you think that is — how does then like the weed business play into some of what you're talking about?

GIBBS: I think that weed used to be looked at as an illicit drug like cocaine and stuff like that in the '60s and '70s. I think that it's being more accepted now because of the research and everything involved with it. You know, right now, man, all these big tobacco companies and alcohol distributors, they're getting into the weed business.

KELLEY: Right.

GIBBS: It's the companies and people that frowned upon marijuana for a long time are now getting involved, and soon you're going to see these big corporate companies, the Coca-Colas and the Pepsis and guys like that, dealing with marijuana farmers and things of that nature. So it's a big business, man. If you can — I mean, they've been selling cigarettes for the past 300 years, and they're definitely about to start selling marijuana legally, you know what I mean?

KELLEY: For sure.

GIBBS: It's selling. I mean, I seen something in some country — I forgot which one it was — but I think they liked legalized drugs period. I want to see how that's going to work. Cause I definitely don't think all drugs should be legally used, like in a vending machine. I want to say that's Russia or something like that. I don't know.

KELLEY: That's a terrible idea, Russia.

GIBBS: I don't want to — don't quote me, Russia. But in this country, whichever country this is, I forgot which one it was, I don't know if it was y'all or not, Russia. I think it was y'all, cause y'all do some crazy s***.

KELLEY: They invent crazy drugs over there.

GIBBS: Yeah, they do. They actually have like drug rooms where you can go use your drugs and all of that stuff. Like, it's crazy. I mean, I want to know how that's going to work, what type of effect that's going to have on their society.

KELLEY: And especially on how they would treat addiction.

GIBBS: Right. I think that — I don't know. I think that when you take the taboo off of certain things; I think that people kind of like fall off of them.

KELLEY: Yeah. Right.

GIBBS: They don't really want them anymore. I think when you constantly implant it in your brain in America like, "Drugs are bad. Drugs are bad. Drugs are bad. Drugs are bad." People, you know, they — it's like a moth to a flame. You know it's gon' kill you, but you keep going to it. So I think that if you take that away from it, I think that maybe it could kind of curve the drug use a little bit. But, you know, who knows. That remains to be seen.

KELLEY: Yeah, I think it really depends on the drug.

GIBBS: Yeah, it just depends on the drug.

KELLEY: Like in prohibition, drinking went up when it was illegal.

GIBBS: Yeah. Exactly.

KELLEY: Now, I think — I feel like weed is just different.

GIBBS: Yeah, weed is different. I think that heroin and all that type of stuff should be illegal, man, cause it's highly addictive. Prescription drugs are really a bad thing going on right now. I know I've made music about them. I used to be addicted to prescription drugs myself. Oxycontin, Xanax, Vicodin. You know what I mean?

Just being around people that was taking pills and just doing them, you're just like, "Oh wow. I've never felt like this before." Cause I was used to just smoking weed and drinking. But then I started hanging around a group of people that was doing those prescription drugs and they became so readily available to me, it was just like, "Wow." At first you feel like you not doing nothing wrong, but I mean, you're no better than a heroin addict on the corner.

KELLEY: They're so easy to get.

GIBBS: Yeah. So easy to get. I was drinking like a — I was drinking a pint of syrup a day. A day. Like, Lambo knows. I was on it heavy, for damn near two years straight. And I had to look in the mirror like, "Wow. What am I doing?" I'm pouring opiate into my stomach every day. I'm drinking — I'm basically, like, drinking heroin.

And like I said, it looks cool. It looks fun and all of that. And like I said, we glamorize it with the rap thing and all of that. I see so many kids with styrofoam cups nowadays all over the country. It used to be a region thing. It used to be a thing in the South, little bit in the Midwest. Few people like in Philly was messing with it. But now it's everywhere. It's spread like wildfire, man.

The combination of all these drugs ain't gon' do nothing but kill us, man. I think that we need to start focusing on getting free instead of getting high all the time.

KELLEY: Yeah. How're we going to do that?

GIBBS: I don't know. It's difficult. I think we — the prescription drugs, that's something that I definitely had to cut totally out of my life, period, and I suggest youngsters do the same.

KELLEY: Yeah. That's a thing that people don't highlight enough. I think the people with longevity in the game and who are really at the top are totally sober.

GIBBS: Yeah.

KELLEY: And have been for years.

GIBBS: Definitely. I don't think that you could — your functionality as a business person, as a staple in this game, I don't think that you could reach your full potential if you high all the time, on certain drugs. I just don't.

MUHAMMAD: That's the slogan right there.

GIBBS: Yeah. I don't think you could reach a full potential if you on drugs all the time. That's my personal opinion. But some people, they gotta be on it all the time, you know what I mean? And that's they thing. That's cool, but it just wasn't conducive with the way I wanted to live my life.

MUHAMMAD: Can we go into the record a little and tell us why you titled it Shadow Of A Doubt?

GIBBS: I titled — you know what, man? When we did this — it's crazy. When we did this record, we didn't really — we didn't even have a title until probably like the day we was about to put it out.

Like the day it was time to do the billboards and the roll-out, we didn't even have a title. I was like, "Man, what we gon' title it?" To me, it sounded like it was real — it was a dark type of record.

And I'm kind of like the underdog of the rap game, I would say. But I'm one of the guys that always underrated and things of that nature, so I just wanted to just go with that Shadow Of A Doubt title and just prove the naysayers wrong. Just let them know that I'm here to stay. I'm not really going anywhere in this game.

I built a fanbase — a cult fanbase, I should say. I been on tour with guys like Tech N9ne and I looked at him and I was like, "Man, if he can do this, then I can definitely do it." Cause we definitely two different artists from two different walks of life and perspectives, but I — it was definitely something to admire the way he handled his fanbase. And I was just like, I can grow into something this large as well, you know what I mean, with my own type of flavor.

MUHAMMAD: It's a deep title. Even if it was last minute. But it just comes off.

GIBBS: Yeah, it was just like, man, like I said, I feel like I was — I'm doubted every day.

MUHAMMAD: Do you — well, why do you feel you're doubted? By who? Who's doubting you?

GIBBS: I don't feel like I get the recognition for being as innovative that I am musically, you know what I mean? I don't think that I get put up there with the J. Coles and the Kendrick Lamars and guys of that nature when I definitely think that I'm rapping on they level and definitely higher.

It's just a matter of just me sticking to my guns and doing it the way I want to do it. And I'm at that point now where I can put out music when I want to, shoot a video when I want to, just basically have total control, so it's like, I can sway more people in my direction than ever now. But I still don't think that I get the credit that I deserve, like I said, for being an innovator.

MUHAMMAD: Well, you definitely innovative. You probably — one of the things you stick to your guns, which is in terms of sound and style: I feel you consistently deliver a edge to your music, but you not playing the radio game.

GIBBS: Nah.

MUHAMMAD: See, if you would do that, maybe —

GIBBS: Definitely not.

MUHAMMAD: Maybe then —

GIBBS: That's been a theme on me and my career. Like, "Ah, man, you don't really play the radio game." But it's like, "What's the radio game?" You know what I mean? Like, shoot. Like I said, man, I just heard J. Cole put out a song on the radio like, "Don't save her. She don't want to be saved." These other guys do what they want, and they get accepted. And that's fine. That's great. That's what I like to see, for guys like that, who I admire, breaking the radio rules.

But if they breaking the radio rules, I'm like, "Hey, man. I'm just gon' keep doing what I do." All that'll come around. I never got into this game to be the guy making radio singles all day. I figure I'm going to make what I make, and if you play it, you play it. If we come with some kind of campaign for the record, then that's cool, too.

But like, I'm just all about the music, man. I never really chased radio singles. And I think that if I start doing that, then I'm going to fall off. I think that my method, the way I've been doing things, has served me greatly. So I think that I just gotta just keep doing that. The radio'll play something eventually. If not, then whatever.

Like I said, we making a lot of money doing it without it. So it's just like, I might be showing some 15, 16, 17-year-old kid that, "Hey, man. I don't even got to — I could do what Freddie Gibbs doing. If the radio don't like my music, that don't mean that I have to quit. That don't mean that I have to not rap, not feed my family off of this."

MUHAMMAD: I love the sound of this record. Can you talk about some of the people you work with?

GIBBS: Yeah. My engineer is the greatest guy ever, man. Without him, without Sid, Sid Miller — he definitely puts me in a position to — he's like a basketball coach. He kind of like put me in a position to be a greater rapper. Cause he just wants me — he allows me to be a lot more loose when I'm doing a record. And I could definitely see that in this new record, so I'm just with him — all the production pretty much goes through him.

I used a lot of guys from Canada this time. My partner Pops, my partner Mikhail. Definitely two talented individuals. I worked with Frank Dukes, one of my favorite producers. He definitely one of the illest in the game. Boi-1da. Need no introduction. I worked with Murda Beatz from — I worked with a lot of Canadians.

I was going to Canada a lot the past year. I was doing a lot of shows up there, so I was just up there knocking out music, man. And just getting it done. They showed me so much love up there. I need to go ahead and switch my citizenship to get that free healthcare. They rocking with me up there in Canada.

I be up there All-Star Weekend. Shoutout to my homeboy Baka. I'll definitely be up there All-Star Weekend.

KELLEY: I mean, also Gucci.

GIBBS: Oh, Gucci Mane, E-40. Shout out to Gucci. Free Gucci, man. I'm such a huge Gucci Mane fan. It's like a — at first it was like a guilty pleasure, but then it just became a staple of music in my iTunes. I need that Gucci. When I'm on my turn-up s***, I gotta have that Gucci. When I'm riding in the jeep, man, I gotta have that. It's definitely drug dealer soundtrack.

KELLEY: It's such a good verse from him, too.

GIBBS: Ah, yeah, man. I didn't think that — I didn't know how they was going to come and how the whole process was going to go, getting Gucci on the record. Cause it was — I always wanted to work with him. I wish I didn't have to work with him under these circumstances. When he get home soon, we definitely going to do more music. He just sent me some more music to do matter of fact, so I'm excited about developing a good musical relationship with him.

I love the musical relationship that I got with the OG guys like E-40, guys that I can call anytime and really not just get music from, get game from and ideas from. So I'm definitely excited — I'm just excited about the direction my whole career going period right now, man. I'm just — I'm loving it.

KELLEY: But can you tell us a little more about the process of working with him?

GIBBS: I mean, with —

KELLEY: With Gucci?

GIBBS: With Gucci? I mean, Gucci locked up.

KELLEY: Yeah, that's what I'm saying. So tell us how that happened.

GIBBS: You gotta go through the management. And he's one of those guys; he ain't just gon' work with anybody. You definitely gotta talk to him. It was phone calls involved. It was a lot of — like I said, a lot of talk to the management and things of that nature. You definitely gotta make sure you talking to the right people when you dealing with somebody that's locked up, cause they might not want certain things to be done on they behalf while they locked up.

So it was a good thing that I reached out, and they responded so quickly. I didn't know that they even were fans of my work. You never know with rappers in this game. I think you gotta just reach out. I think that rap is so egotistical and chauvinistic that, you know, guys like — I don't know. It's like we damn near afraid to speak to each other. I don't see that in other genres.

And rap is such a collaborative-based art form, but we got hella ego. We hella standoffish with each other. I don't get that. I mean, it's kind of weird. But, you know, it is what it is. I'm just glad that one of my favorite artists was willing to do a record with me. Gucci. So that was love.

KELLEY: Was there any part of it — the fact that he's in Indiana — was that helpful at all?

GIBBS: Oh yeah, definitely. We definitely got plugs in Indiana jail.

KELLEY: OK.

GIBBS: Definitely make things comfortable for you.

KELLEY: Yeah, so he — and he's working on a project now.

GIBBS: Yeah. Gucci got — Gucci got a lot of projects he putting out. He going to put out like ten albums and s***.

KELLEY: He's going to get out and just run the year.

GIBBS: He just sent me a record to get off, East Atlanta Santa, so shout out to Gucci Mane. 1017. Shout out my homeboy, Sean Paine, everybody over there at 1017. I got love for them heavy. Free Gucci, man. Soon. We need him out here. The game need Gucci Mane. Gucci Mane definitely inspired a lot of the music that's out right now from Migos to Future and all of that stuff.

KELLEY: And Fetty.

GIBBS: Young Scooter. Fetty Wap. All of that stuff. I love all of that music, and I definitely got to take my hat off to Gucci Mane.

KELLEY: 100%.

GIBBS: 100%.

KELLEY: Sometimes I talk to people who don't understand that somebody who could make — I guess one way to describe your music would be very lyrical, storytelling, verbose. That you would like music, and need to listen to music that is, in some ways, the opposite, with no negative connotation toward it. How do you explain discrepancy like that?

GIBBS: Just like I need that Gucci Mane, I need that Roots too. I need that Black Thought. I need that stuff like that as well.

So it's like, being a versatile rapper, I think comes with having a versatile ear as well. Cause I was listening to — I'm from Gary, so we know we don't have that regional cling that we gotta be like, "Oh, yeah, Gary. This is what we listen to." They out here like, "We listen to West Coast." And the East Coast is all, "This what we got." We don't have that. So we listening to music from all walks of life.

We listening to music from Chicago. We listening to music from the East Coast, you know. Shoot, I was listening to 8Ball and MJG. I was also listening to Kool G Rap. So all of that fascinated me. Why can't I implement all of that into my music. Why do I have to be one-sided? Why do I only have to make a Piñata-type record. Why can't I do a song with Gucci Mane?

I had a conversation with a rapper I'd say about three or four years ago. I ain't gon' say his name cause he might get mad. But we was listening to my records. And then he said, "Man, your records are dope. They just all over the place." And I was like, "What the f*** you mean by that?" He was like, "Man, you just all over the place. And I'm like, "Well, you know, that's my style, being all over the place." I'm like, "Maybe you should expand your options. And you wouldn't just be this backpack rapper that you are."

You know, it comes with the territory, man. Everybody not gon' like what you're doing. Jesus couldn't please everybody, so you gotta just do what you gotta do. And if you love what you doing — I'm taking care of my family off of this, so I can't complain. I'm not in nobody crackhouse. I'm doing real good for my mom and all of that, so — off of music, man. So I don't see how you could make a negative comment about that.

It's hard out here for a black man to do that, to get a job, and I got my own business. That speaks volumes.

KELLEY: What's the song on this record that you're the most excited to perform?

GIBBS: Off this record, the song that I'm most excited to perform would probably be — I like the ratchet stuff, so I like performing "Packages." I get a real good crowd reaction to that.

I also — I just did a show in Austin, and I performed "Freddie Gordy." And you know, that record, that's probably one of the deepest records — that's probably my favorite record on there, cause that's probably one of the deepest records that I've ever done. It's not no traditional song. It don't even — I don't even think it have a hook. I just went in there and started about rapping about things that were affecting me at the time.

And it was really — I was having one of those days. It was really hitting me hard. I really got to get that out. And people that hear the record they really appreciate that, you know what I mean?

MUHAMMAD: You sound most vulnerable on that record.

GIBBS: Yeah, definitely. I talked about things that, you know, I didn't really — never really spoke on. Or I spoke on, but I really kind of got deeper on that record, so that's my favorite record.

I love performing that at the end of shows. I seen people cry off of stuff like that. It's all about evoking an emotion, and that's what guys like Scarface and 2pac did for me, so hopefully I could do that for other people, too.

MUHAMMAD: How important is it then — if you get that sort of a response and that reaction, knowing that that's like you really went in and opened up all that — to kind of go back to that well repeatedly, maybe, and tip the balance of what you do that has less of that versus putting more of that in there?

GIBBS: Right. Right. I mean, I think that, like I said, man, you gotta kind of — it's a fine line trying to satisfy all your fans. Because everybody's not as emotional as you. Everybody's not — some days somebody just want to just — like I said, listen to a song like "Packages," they want to wrap the packages up and sell dope in they head. And some days, some people want to listen to a record like "Freddie Gordy" or "Insecurities" or something like that and really vibe out.

It just depends on the listener. You got certain people that listen to different music for certain type of reasons. Some people want to be turnt up. Some people want to be — they want they soul healed, and they want they soul touched a little bit. I think that you gotta provide all of that. That's what I meant by being versatile.

So when that rapper guy told me that I was all over the place, I got offended by that. And that didn't do nothing but add more fuel to the fire. I went in right after that and then I made Piñata and then I made this. So I was like, "Alright, man. I got you. I'ma show what 'all over the place' is."

KELLEY: I'm going to spend a lot of time trying to figure out who this guy is.

GIBBS: Oh, yeah.

MUHAMMAD: I'm right now trying figure who's the person who —

KELLEY: Ali's like, "I know."

MUHAMMAD: No. I don't know. I have no clue. I don't pretend to know everything. I don't know nothing.

GIBBS: I can't believe he had the audacity to tell me that.

MUHAMMAD: I don't know anything.

GIBBS: I was like, "Huh?" He said, "Man, you know what? You all over the place. I don't really feel it." I was like, "Wow."

MUHAMMAD: Sometimes people say —

GIBBS: And I liked his records, too. I liked his records.

KELLEY: I'm gonna figure it out.

MUHAMMAD: Sometimes people say stuff like that and it's truthful. You know what I mean?

GIBBS: Yeah.

MUHAMMAD: It really is. And it's just a matter of how we perceive what's being said, and it becomes that thing that fuels us even further, which is good. Cause sometimes we need that — we need those moments sometimes, even though it may seem like —

GIBBS: Yeah. It hurt at first. I went in the bathroom and was definitely punching the air like Cuba Gooding, Jr. in Boyz N The Hood. But I didn't let him see that I was affected by that. I just took it, and I was just like, "Damn, man. I like this guy. Why he don't like me?" So I definitely was air boxing like Cuba Gooding, Jr.

MUHAMMAD: Well, more curious than who that person is, I'm curious as to who the — I take it as fictional. But I heard the word Brooklyn in one of the songs, and I was like, "Yo, who's he talking about that was —" I'm like, "What person was that, that put you in that position?"

GIBBS: Ah, man. It was bad, man. That situation last year was — it was real crazy man, because — man, my fiancé was like four months pregnant or something like that. Man, I was really just getting accustomed to the news that I'm about to be a father, and then somebody tries to take me out. At that point, man — I had been like really kind of successfully doing my rap thing for about four, five years at that point. So I'm like, I'm not in the drug game no more. So who would want to kill me?

The guys had every opportunity to rob me that day. I had a bunch of show money on me, in cash. I had a bunch of jewelry on me. They could have easily just came up and said give me all of that, and they would've had a pay day. But it was a definitely a hit. As to who set it up and who did it, I don't got no knowledge of. But it was definitely somebody that tried to kill me. That's what was so weird.

Because I've been in situations like that before as a drug dealer, but never, never, ever, as a rapper, have I been in a situation like that where somebody wanted to kill me. Of course, you go to clubs, guys want to fight, rah rah. But you know when that's coming up. Like, for somebody to unexpectedly try to kill me? Like, they shot my DJ. They shot another guy that was there in the hand. And it was just, seeing those guys, those bodies drop, I'm like, "Oh yeah. They trying to shoot."

It's crazy, you know what I'm saying? Cause I was just like, "Man, who could this be?" Like, "Who could want to kill me in Williamsburg?" So I'm just like, man — it's crazy. I wouldn't — every night after that I was just — it just really boggled my mind. You know, a lot of people had they theories. They thought it was a rap thing. But it definitely wasn't no rappers.

KELLEY: Is there any resolution to it?

GIBBS: Just, you know, just being careful and just staying safe when I'm in New York. Whoever did that, man, god bless them. I hope that they know that I'm still here, and I'm not going nowhere.

But it was crazy. It was definitely a bad time for me, because just not knowing is bad. Just you don't know who did that. Cause like I said, I don't — I don't know if that was something from, you know, my past coming to haunt me. Or I don't know if that was some jealous rap stuff. I don't know. Not knowing was the bad part about it.

But like I said, my music is my therapy, man. So I got to get that off on a record and kind of talk about that and touch that. So I'm glad that I was able to, you know, kind of put that to rest now. It's cool, you know what I mean.

And I'm glad that nobody died. Cause people definitely got seriously injured, and it could've been way worse. I had one of my best female friends with me, and she was, like, standing in the doorway of the car, so she could've got killed. So if something were to happen to her, I don't know what I would've done. So just that moment took me through a real wide range of emotions because I didn't know who I could trust anymore.

It was bad. It made good for a good rap song. But at the time it was a real — it was a heavy situation. Because I feel like I was beating myself up a lot. Because I felt like I put a lot of innocent people in that position. And I had to come out of that and be like, "Why am I blaming myself for something somebody tried to do to me?" Cause I had my manager there. He had his wife there.

It was just a crazy situation. Nobody should have to go through that, when they doing something positive with they music and working and getting off of work and coming out of work and getting shot at. That ain't cool.

KELLEY: You spoke with Vibe about — I don't remember what she asked, but you said that there was some things that you felt like you couldn't talk about because it would f*** with your money. I mean, I would just re-ask her question, and then also I would ask, like, exactly how would it f*** with your money?

GIBBS: I mean, it's certain things that in this business you really can't say out loud. I'll just say this: it doesn't always pay to have an opinion in this game when you're an artist.

KELLEY: Yeah.

GIBBS: Your opinion can sway other people's opinions about you as a person. And if people don't like you as a person, then they probably won't be a patron to your music, if you got a certain view.

I think that if you announce who you voting for, I think people will tear your head off for that. It's like, we press the issue on voting, voting, voting. Everybody should vote; everybody should vote. But it's like, if you say who you voting for, people hate you for that. If I say I'm voting for — if I was to say I was voting for Trump right now, oh my god. I'd get so much backlash. I'm not.

KELLEY: To be clear.

GIBBS: Don't get me twisted. I'm not. But it's my choice if I want to vote for Donald Trump.

KELLEY: Right.

GIBBS: We live in America. I can vote for him if I want to. Y'all want — people want us to be more politically active, you know what I mean? Even if a guy's going to the poll to vote for Donald Trump, at least he's being politically active. So I don't think you should chastise him for who he votes for. I think that we — we got too much of that going on in our country. It's a choice! And if you don't want that guy to be in office, then you get your ass up and vote against him.

That's what this is all about. I think it's too much emphasis put on who you vote for and all of that when y'all telling us, "Go to the poll. Go to the poll. Go to the poll." OK. But if I don't feel like you feel at the poll, why am I getting chastised for that?

So, you know, just little things like that. Political views on certain topics. Like I said, it doesn't always pay to have an opinions when you're an artist. And Twitter is the worst.

KELLEY: Yeah.

GIBBS: People need Twitter controllers. Because it's — Twitter can end your career, man.

MUHAMMAD: Well, I like — you know, you have a way of planting something, I'll say, beautiful — beautifully rebellious. You have that one little speech in the end of the song where — is that Farrakhan? Who was that?

GIBBS: That was Farrakhan. That was definitely Farrakhan. Yeah. Like when he said, "When we die and they die." I mean, just a lot of the incidents, man, this year — especially the Freddie Gray thing and the verdict, the hung jury coming out yesterday — me and Black Thought, we were talking about a lot of those things in the studio, and I just felt like I wanted to make a record that — if I didn't say anything about that, I just felt like I would be doing my people a disservice. Because I got a platform. If I didn't speak in some type of way about that — I know most of the record I was talking about my life and my struggles and my opinion, but if I didn't speak about the things going on in the community from that standpoint, I felt like I was robbing myself.

I mean, the Freddie Grays of the world, the — it's so many different incidents, just this past year alone. And it's just — all it is is just feeding into this propaganda, man, that it's us versus the police. But I don't think that's the case. I think that it's a war going on in the streets, but I don't think it's us versus the police. I think it's just us versus this capitalistic system.

A lot of police out there, they put in position to do jobs a lot of them not qualified to do. And when they not qualified to do those jobs, things like this happen. And when I say qualified to do those jobs, I don't mean just being able to shoot your firearm or pull somebody over and be able to do a traffic stop. I mean, you gotta know how to interact with the community.

I think that cops should be out there walking the beat. You shouldn't sit in the damn car all day. I think you should make these people know who you are, make your presence felt. But do it in — you there to protect and serve. These taxpayers are paying you to protect them. So I mean, I think that police just gotta give off the aura that they're there to protect and not arrest us, you know what I mean?

When we get into, like I said, the whole propaganda of us versus the police, we can't win that. So I don't even feed into it. Because we can't win that war against the police. When the police has you handcuffed or pulled over, your life is essentially in his hands. He can kill you, arrest you, do whatever he want. So going to war with that establishment is — that ain't the way.

KELLEY: Well, they're protecting property.

GIBBS: You said the police are protecting property?

KELLEY: Yeah. I mean, they're protecting corporate property mostly.

GIBBS: I guess. Yeah. I guess they are. I mean, if you — the whole world is corporate property.

KELLEY: Well, yeah. I mean, I think that's where the reform has to come in.

GIBBS: Yeah.

KELLEY: It's a re-prioritization.

GIBBS: Yeah, I think so. Like I said, these guys just gotta know how to — learn how to interact with us in the community.

Another thing, that falls back on us. We have to learn how to interact with each other better in the community, cause — to cut down on some of these problems, to cut down on some of these police coming in our neighborhoods, trying to arrest us, we gotta learn how to run our communities better. Because we the only ones out here getting gunned down. I don't see any other races getting killed by the police.

MUHAMMAD: You think that if you did a whole album like that your money would change? I'm just saying.

GIBBS: Nah.

MUHAMMAD: I'm just cracking a joke.

GIBBS: Nah. Nah. I don't think my money'd change. I think that a lot of people afraid of that message. And the ones that can't stomach it, they probably wouldn't purchase. Like I said, that's something that you gotta deal with as a artist. Cause you can't just totally leave it out, you know what I mean, and just not say anything. But at the same time, you kind of gotta cater to your fanbase as well. Everybody — like I said, everybody's different. Everybody can't stomach that message the way some people can.

KELLEY: I mean, there's so much fear in the white community, right. It's all mythical fears. And I don't know how you — I mean, obviously, I don't know what to do. But I think that's also in the cops.

GIBBS: Yeah, I mean, I think that — like I said, it's just this — the image that's burned into a lot of people's brains every day of black people and young black kids, I mean, I can understand that fear, that a white soccer mom, a suburban soccer mom, would have when she turn on CNN every day, and she seeing only black violence. So that's what she's going to try to stray away from, try to stray her family away from. The media creates a lot of this propaganda. And they sway a lot of people's ways of thinking. That's just the way it is.

KELLEY: And fear also of losing social status and economic status, right, cause the only way anything is going to get different is if the money moves differently.

GIBBS: Right. Definitely. Definitely.

KELLEY: And so that's a lot of people not wanting to stomach the truth, because they know deep down that that's going to mean their life is going to change.

GIBBS: Right. We need free health care out here. For real.

KELLEY: Yes we do.

GIBBS: Just like Canada. We need that. Even that whole — that industry right there is so — you don't know where that money's going. Like, you can go get knee surgery and you not going to know that you getting charged $90,000 for it till you get home a month later.

MUHAMMAD: I just read an article actually about that, health care, and the difference of knee surgery, where some people are paying into a higher premium are actually paying more, for an example $50,000, versus some other who are payng $10,000 for the same surgery.

KELLEY: What?

GIBBS: Yeah. That's crazy.

KELLEY: Why is an ambulance so expensive? That's what I want to know.

GIBBS: I don't know. And the guys on the ambulance making minimum wage.

KELLEY: Right.

GIBBS: I don't get it. I don't know. The guys on the ambulance making minimum wage and the doctors and all of that, they — doctors and medical administrators they, you know, house on the hill. I don't get it. Teachers should get paid more.

KELLEY: Yes.

GIBBS: A lot of those important jobs we take for granted in this country. We don't take care of these people. That's why these people strike. That's why these people don't want those jobs. A lot of kids coming up, they like, "Ah, man. I'm not going to be a paramedic. They don't make enough." So then we got shortages in areas or —

KELLEY: Yeah, like nurses and — yeah.

GIBBS: Right. Areas or occupation that we need people to be in. Like you said, nurses, teachers. It's difficult because of the pay scale.

KELLEY: Yeah.

MUHAMMAD: So you close the year with this new album. What's the prospect of living it through 2016? Like, what are the plans?

GIBBS: I'm definitely about to shoot more visuals from the record. I just shot a new one this past week that's about to be amazing. Shout out to my director Jonah Schwartz. He's beautiful. He's amazing. You know, just staying on — just touring. The bulk of my income comes from staying on that road and touring a lot. I'm about to do a U.S. tour this year that's going to be big. I'm about to do Australia. I always do Europe, every year. Hopefully I'm in South America and all that stuff this year.

YouTube

So I'm — staying on that road is definitely how I get my message out there, just letting people — people being able to touch you and see you, you know what I mean? It's no better — it's no greater feeling than that.

MUHAMMAD: Well, I won't ask if you have a New Year's resolution.

KELLEY: What?

MUHAMMAD: Nah. Cause, you know, some people do, some people don't.

KELLEY: I forgot you did this last year. I forgot.

MUHAMMAD: Did I? I don't remember. Damn, I'm lame.

KELLEY: Was it to eat breakfast more? That's usually what mine is.

MUHAMMAD: I don't remember. But do you have sort of a hope for the scene of hip-hop for 2016?

GIBBS: You know what, man? I just want it to continue to grow. Hopefully somebody else puts out something that inspires me. This year, like I said, it was guys like Drake. He put out dope records that definitely inspired me to go back in the studio, and I think that I just want to just feed off the energy, you know what I mean? From the other musicians.

I think that, long as — if I make a good record, hopefully guys listening S.O.D. right now like, "Alright. I'm about to go in." You know what I'm saying? "That inspired me." So hopefully Future or Drake or Wale or somebody comes out with a record that makes me be like, "Alright. Yeah. I'm messing with that." Cause the — great artists inspire other great artists, I think.

So I just hope that people keep staying innovative, and, like I said, I love where music is at right now. You can do what you want to do. I'm about to go leave here right now and listen to that new Pusha T record. So I'm just all about — with this game, if I keep — I feel if I do my part to keep contributing, then I'm going to always keep eating off it. And likewise for everybody, you know.

If we put good contributions to this hip-hop thing it's gon' keep living. It's gon' live on. I know a lot of people who probably thought that hip-hop was dead after y'all era. They probably didn't even think it would survive the '90s, the early 2000s, let alone right now. So I think that it's going strong. It's definitely morphed and changed up a lot.

But you got guys that still pay attention to the core of this, and we gon' definitely continue to make it keep living y'all. It got to stay breathing for us to stay breathing.

MUHAMMAD: Cool.

KELLEY: Well, we appreciate you coming by and —

GIBBS: I appreciate y'all having me.

KELLEY: — and we really like the album.

GIBBS: Ah, man. Thank you so much.

KELLEY: Really, really do.

GIBBS: I was definitely wondering how people was going to receive it after the Piñata record, cause people put me up here on the Piñata. And I was like, "Alright, man. I gotta come with something different."

KELLEY: Oh, no. It makes sense.

GIBBS: If I stay stagnant, then I think that I just fall into a hole that I couldn't come back from, so I'm definitely going to keep making a wide range of music for a long time coming.

MUHAMMAD: You know what? I just remembered two things that I didn't ask you about. There's something that you do — you — well, first the "Cold Ass N****."

GIBBS: Oh yeah.

MUHAMMAD: What was behind that one?

GIBBS: Mike Dean was behind that one. Mike Dean, a whole lot of dabs of wax. He was getting so high that day.

KELLEY: F****** Mike.

GIBBS: I was — Kanye album inspired that record. I'm not going to even lie. That last record he did, Yeezus. That inspired that record. Cause I think Mike had been working on Yeezus and he was like, "Hey, man. Come in here man." Mike is a trippy dude, man. I love Mike Dean. He definitely one of my favorite musicians of all time.

KELLEY: Us too.

GIBBS: Just his whole process. The way he makes music. The way we made that, I mean we was sitting in his apartment in New York, and he was just like, "Man, I just want to come with some different synths, man. And just some far out type s***." Man, I feel like I was with a hippy from the '60s or something like that.

Mike just — he just — guys like him and my engineer Sid, they gave me that lyrical freedom on this record. Cause I didn't really know — when he played that track, I didn't know how to rap on it. I was like, "Damn. What am I gon' do to this?" And I was just like, alright, I just want to do something kind of repetitive but implement some hard lyrics in it at the same time.

And it just became like — to me that song is like a movie on wax. To me, it's like a film. That's how I look — I look at my songs now, they all are like films to me. When I make them, it's not just music. I could visualize everything I'm saying. It's like painting a picture.

MUHAMMAD: It comes off like a trance. And you know, the fact that you keep pushing and you just — you are repetitive with it but then it's like, you a cycle. And then you give the style. You lyrically lay it down, but then it takes you back into it. And I was just wondering for you recording that how did — did you feel like you were in a trance with that song?

GIBBS: Yeah. I did feel like I was in a trance. And the ending is just crazy. The ending just make you just want to just jump out a window. The ending of that song made me just want to drive off a cliff like Thelma & Louise. I just — Mike Dean really made me feel invincible as a MC on that record.

KELLEY: Can that be the video? You and Mike in the convertible.

GIBBS: That'd be crazy. We could drive off a cliff. That'd be dope. Me and Mike in a convertible driving off. Oh, yeah.

KELLEY: But like, there's a parachute. And it's saved. You don't die. You stay with us. Outwit the cops.

GIBBS: We gotta pull that movie magic, man. Definitely gotta have — can't let Mike die. Gotta have a parachute for Mike.

MUHAMMAD: And my last question just related to your lyrical approach. I felt that there are several songs that you kind of repeated these hooks and then there was a like sub-hook that you kind of like snapped it back to re-enforce and re-emphasize that.

GIBBS: Right.

MUHAMMAD: Was that deliberate?

GIBBS: Yeah, it was definitely deliberate. I think that — a lot of this record, man, I didn't even really write it. My new kind of style of making music is just going in the booth and just ripping, you know what I'm saying? And songs like "McDuck," that's definitely one where I was using a kind of repetitive nature. It just made the song more catchier to me. And like I said, I went into this record with more of like a loose style of rapping.

It kind of helped me become a better MC. Cause when I had to get in there with guys like Black Thought and actually like rap in the studio with him. I was totally relaxed. By the time it was time to do that song, cause I had been like "Cold Ass N****"s and "McDuck"s and "Careless." I was just feeling — like I said, I was feeling invincible. I was feeling like I could sing, and I could rap. I could dance. I was feeling like Sammy Davis, Jr. in that m***********. You know what I'm saying?

KELLEY: You can dance?

GIBBS: Hell nah. You know what I mean? But like I said, my engineer and all them, they made me feel like I could.

Staying lyrically sharp is definitely something that I pride myself on. When I say that I'm being more loose with the flow and more easy going, I'm not saying I'm slacking on the lyrics whatsoever. I'm not saying that whatsoever. Or dumbing it down or anything. I think that those things, those repetitive things, I think they're just showing my growth as a writer.

And showing — cause a lot of things I write for other people are more so like that. But I never implemented those into my own music, and now I'm doing it. I kind of did that with S.O.D.

MUHAMMAD: It's cool, the way it comes off.

KELLEY: It feels modern.

GIBBS: Yeah, it definitely does. The whole — you know, the basis of this record, man, you know what movie that I watched to really get the general, bare aesthetic of this record? I watched — me and Lambo, we watched Ryan Gosling, Drive.

KELLEY: Oh, yeah.

GIBBS: That's the feeling that we wanted to give you.

KELLEY: I saw that movie.

GIBBS: We wanted to give you that dark, neon light, riding at night-type of feel with this record. And I think we accomplished that.

KELLEY: And it's funny. Cause the soundtrack to that was so — I don't remember. It's a very respected electronic musician, right?

GIBBS: Yeah. It was, actually. We love that film. And just like I said, the whole — the way they marketed the film, the whole general aesthetic of it was amazing to me, so I definitely tried to apply that to my new record.

So I just need — like I said, I need media things to inspire me. I need good film, good music. Good plays. Things like that inspire my music. So I gotta go to good stuff and see good stuff. That's why, like I said, I hope next year that somebody comes out with a dope record that I love and that's gon' inspire me to do my next record.

MUHAMMAD: Dope.

KELLEY: Thank you again.

GIBBS: Thank y'all. I appreciate y'all having me.

KELLEY: Awesome.

GIBBS: It's love, man. Can't wait to come back.

KELLEY: Yeah!

MUHAMMAD: Please do.

We no longer support commenting on NPR.org stories, but you can find us every day on Facebook, Twitter, email, and many other platforms. Learn more or contact us.