$oul $old $eparately review | Freddie Gibbs cements his place among top tier rappers

Freddie Gibbs returns after a three year wait with $oul $old $eparately, and whilst Gibbs’ assessment of it as “album of the year” seems far-fetched, there’s no doubt the Indiana rapper has picked up where he left off from his last full length project: 2020’s collaborative project with The Alchemist, Alfredo.

Freddie Gibbs

Opening with ‘Couldn’t Be Done’, a triumphant anthem celebrates Freddie’s status behind a soulful Norman Feels sample, before transitioning into ‘Blackest in the Room’, an atmospheric reunion with The Alchemist that sounds like it came straight from the final leg of 2020’s Alfredo.

Similarly ‘Lobster Omelette’ celebrates Gibbs’ success over a luxurious instrumental, superbly complimented by Rick Ross’ Maybach opulence. From the off, Freddie wants you to know he’s made it to the top floor of the $$$ resort – and won’t let you forget what it took to get there.

This is what makes Freddie Gibbs a tier above most rappers in the game right now. He’s able to flaunt his riches, yet still makes a conscious effort to recognise his past. The track ‘Grandma’s Stove’ demonstrates this perfectly. The highlight of the album, Gibbs reminisces over past issues with baby mamas, drug dealing, and the hate that comes with success.

Perhaps the most heart-wrenching moment is when the rapper talks about numbing his stress with “drugs, liquor and table dances,” before admitting he has to slow his roll to support his father battling stomach cancer – a fitting metaphor for the album. Freddie knows what he’s achieved, basks in it, but still can’t escape the struggles of his past.

The fault to be found in $$$ is that it sounds as though Freddie has had to pander to some of Warner Records’ demands at certain moments. Being Gibbs’ major label debut, there are obvious attempts to achieve a more mainstream sound, notably in the form of tracks ‘Pain & Strife’ (featurinng Offset) and ‘Too Much’ (feauring Moneybagg Yo).

It’s not uncommon to see Freddie spit over a trap cut; 2020 single ‘4 Thangs’ (featuring Big Sean) demonstrated Freddie’s versatile capabilities. Yet $$$’s attempts at appealing to a wider audience do not reach the same heights, as Offset delivers a forgettable verse, and Gibbs produces the weakest hook of the album on ‘Pain & Strife’. ‘Too Much,’ meanwhile, released as the album’s lead single, is far too generic for someone of Gibbs’ calibre.

Yet even whilst these tracks alone do nothing to help the album, they complement the flow of the project perfectly. Gibbs is alone in the $$$ penthouse when a series of guests check-in on him; from Joe Rogan to Jesus (yes, Jesus), these surprise additions are delivered track by track.

Soul Sold Seperately

The project flows from dreamy drug-rap on ‘Gold Rings’ with Pusha T, to the melodic ‘Dark Hearted,’ to a classy Madlib linkup on ‘CIA’. The relentlessness of the album commands your attention, and demonstrates Gibbs’ development as an artist. As someone who has often struggled to put together a consistent quality project without the help of a super-producer, Freddie expertly weaves in and out of beats, from Kaytranada’s to Boi-1da’s.

It’s not uncommon for rappers to lay claim to being the best in the industry; it is, after all, a game that exudes confidence and belief. Pusha T, for instance, also declared his album It’s Almost Dry to be the album of the year. Gibbs, meanwhile, the self-proclaimed “most versatile rapper in the game,” nonetheless makes a case for this status on $$$. And with his rhymes tighter than ever before, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to deny the rapper’s greatness following another stellar addition to his catalogue.

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