July 17, 2013

My Gut Reaction: Freddie Gibbs + Statik Selektah - Lord Giveth, Lord Taketh Away (June 24, 2011)

Back in 2011, Fredward Gibbs was sitting pretty as a blogger favorite in our chosen genre, as his mixtape game had taken off and his career was (finally) taking off after a false start at Interscope. Not one to rest on his laurels, however, he did what any artist should do: he attempted to expand his horizons. To that end, he made a temporary side trip to New York to work with producer-slash-deejay Statik Selektah, a dude who is very vocal about trying to extend the shelf life of boom bap for the younger generation.

The end result is Lord Giveth, Lord Taketh Away, a collaborative EP that was banged out in the course of a single day (and whose recording sessions were broadcast live over Ustream). Just like the similar-in-theory Saigon / Statik album All In A Day's Work, Lord Giveth, Lord Taketh Away is basically a quickie, released to the masses with minimal edits, but still maintaining a polished sound regardless. Unlike Saigon's effort, though, Fredward made this project an EP release, featuring only seven songs (well, six and an intro), and he fills the roster with numerous guest appearances to pad the running time.

Although this project was in no way what any of you two actually wanted to read about, Lord Giveth, Lord Taketh Away is still notable today for being a prime example of what happens when an artist steps outside of his comfort zone, putting his trust in a single producer who, hopefully, doesn't fuck things up. Hip hop heads who like Gibbs and his crime tales, but have always wanted to hear him rock over East Coast-ish instrumentals, need look no further. Hip hop heads who prefer their Freddie Gibbs the way that he is can look to his millions of other projects.

Me, I just like the fact that he's willing to experiment a bit with his sound.


I can appreciate how Fredward and Statik tried to make this title track sound like an actual song, as it follows the standard verse / chorus / verse structure, but the hook isn't remotely necessary, as I would have dug this anyway. The beat is engaging as fuck, as Statik has his drum machine set to “catchy”, and Gibbs backs up all of the blogger talk by turning in two stellar verses overflowing with imagery and confidence. His flow seems to be much quicker than I remember him being on Str8 Killa, but that could just be due to the beat, although artists are allowed to grow and evolve, you know. This was a fantastic way to start things off.

Unfortunately, the title track is follows by this misfire. Statik's instrumental isn't exactly bad, but it doesn't hit as hard as it should: it came across as a weak imitation of what he thinks G-Funk sounds like. To that end, he even throws Tha Dogg Pound's Daz Dillinger on here, who bogs the whole shit down with his verse, an over-explanation of how he rose to his place within our chosen genre, as he runs through how he contributed to the biggest releases that Death Row Records ever offered, as though anyone who actually gives a shit about Daz wouldn't have already known about them. However, Gibbs himself sounded pretty decent. If only this track featured a more game guest star. Someone like, oh, let's just say Kurupt?

The beat adopts the tone of a dramatic posse cut: a bit too serious for its own good, but easily looped into something a multitude of artists could contribute a throwaway verse to. Our host and guest star Reks (another blogger favorite who has yet to appear on HHID – you readers should really get on that) both acquit themselves nicely, especially Gibbs and his overly-calm crime tales, spoken like an armchair quarterback who knows his shit because he's been a part of the action, probably. The only weak spot on “affiliated” comes from the awkwardly-named PUSH! Montana (really? You think he's jealous of Frenchie at this point?), whose simple Freeway-esque flow sends the entire song down a shame spiral from which it can never recover. Also, his rap name is fucking awful.

Statik builds a melody around what sounds like drums lifted from Mobb Deep's “Shook Ones Part II”, but “Wild Style” is no way as dark as that Infamous classic: instead, Term, Fred, and our host all seem to be enjoying themselves and appear amused at their own shit-talking. Da Godson's performance doesn't measure up to either one of his collaborators, a fact that should be funny because he uses his very first bar to proclaim his greatness and it would make for an easy attack for lazy bloggers, but honestly, he sounded so bland that I just kind of tuned out. Gibbs and Term fare much better, especially our host, whose flow nails the missing link between the late Tupac Shakur and the entire South, which is no small feat.

Gary, Indiana makes its connecting flight to Houston, Texas, resulting in “Already”, a smoother-than-expected Statik Selektah production that inadvertently defines how far Freddie Gibbs has come while also showcasing just how far guest star Trae the Truth has to still go. Both verses, one from each participant, sound serviceable, but Gibbs manages to be more universal (his commentary against Capitol Hill helps in this regard), while Trae's verse seems to have been performed by the internal voice that he hears in his own head. Overall, this wasn't bad, but it could have been much better.

The final proper song of the evening is the love sex rap “Keep It Warm For Ya”, which, due to its poor, rushed design (I'm guessing), sounds like three separate songs smashed together that all happen to share the same beat (a faux-soulful creation). Gibbs starts rhyming almost immediately, taking a break from drugs and crime to bone, but once he's done, there's a long-ass break before Smoke DZA picks up the microphone. Same thing happens before Chace Infinite (of Self Scientific) starts rhyming. Add to this the fact that nobody acknowledges any of the other players, and one is left with a disjointed way to end the project. Groan.

The following two bonus tracks were made available when you purchased Lord Giveth, Lord Taketh Away directly from Statik Selektah's Showoff Records website.  The offer no longer stands, but it's not as though the following songs are impossible to find or anything.

8. FALLIN' (FEAT. 1982)
Promotes both our host and 1982, a duo made up of Statik and Termanology, over a pretty good beat built around Nas vocal samples (taken from “It Ain't Hard To Tell”). Fredward and Term both get one verse apiece to get their respective points across, and neither man disappoints: although the track does evaporate from your consciousness very quickly upon completion, it is at least entertaining while it still exists in this dojo.

The other bonus track is labeled as a freestyle on some websites, merely because Gibbs rhymes for about two and a half minutes straight, without a bullshit hook to help the audience breathe. Statik's instrumental is simple and doesn't intrude, allowing our host to go off with a seamless, seemingly stream-of-consciousness performance that exemplifies his shit-talking at its finest. Fans of straight spitting will gravitate toward this track, as well they should.  And with that, we're done.

THE LAST WORD: Lord Giveth, Lord Taketh Away ultimately ends up a decent project overall, with Gibbs impressing the most with his bars and delivery, both traits of his that might have been overshadowed on his other myriad albums and mixtapes. Statik Selektah's beats fit him just as well as any of the others he's been graciously offered. My main gripe with Lord Giveth, Lord Taketh Away is that it shuffles the spotlight far too often for an EP release: with only six real songs to showcase our host on, I'm not sure why either man thought it would be a good idea to throw a shit-ton of guest stars on here. But if you're a fan of lyrics, and you're a fan of Fredward, I don't know why you haven't bought this already. Yeah, I realize this paragraph is short, and it just took you longer to read this post than it does for the EP to play in full, so it's best that I stop while I'm ahead.




  1. Pretty much agree with everything said Max, although the only track i really go back to on this is the title track. Gibbs is a great MC but you said it perfectly...TOO MANY FEATURES. This has plagued quite a few of his projects and stops them from reaching their potential. The only guys on here who can rap with Gibbs are Reks and Termanology. Also seems like Freddie doesn't put his all into his work sometimes, which would explain that godawful ESGN he dropped this year. Still when hes on, hes fuckin on man

    1. AnonymousJuly 17, 2013

      ESGN hasn't left my CD player in my car since it dropped. Love it.. Ranks up there with CDIH, Midwestgangsta... And Miseducation. As disappointed i was with BFK I thought Gibbs didn't have much left but ESGN is a classic. You must've downloaded that new j. Cole and thought it was Gibbs because if you thought it was "godawful" there's no way were listening to the same cd.

    2. naw i didnt like it. Felt Gibbs went overboard on the trap sound to where it sounded generic like a Chief Keef. Not to mention the beats drowned out his voice, and a few tracks had that sing/rap thing he seems to do every now and then. Only tracks i liked were Hundred Thousand and Eastside Moonwalker

    3. AnonymousJuly 18, 2013

      wait, what? it's available in cd format?

    4. also funny cause i thought BFK was pretty damn good...just shows how different opinions can be, but hey its music, do you man

    5. AnonymousJuly 19, 2013

      Snything that's an mp3 can be burned on a cd.

  2. Thanks for reviewing some more gibbs. I always liked this EP more than gibbs 'trappier' sounding songs. I wish they would've expanded it into a whole album but they did record it all in one session I suppose. Wish you would've done ESGN but I appreciate that you actually listened to your comment section. Also I like rap money, even though I, like you, didnt need daz to tell me his life story.

  3. "Why?" LOL! That was classic.

  4. AnonymousJuly 18, 2013

    I like how everyone comments for Freddie Gibbs then you write about his EP and there's only 4 comments. Anyways, I too only liked the title track, although I have yet to hear the bonus tracks. Gibbs is a great rapper and I'm excited to hear more from the guy.

    1. Me too. But that's okay; those who complain when I inevitably stray from the path will only have themselves to blame.

    2. AnonymousJuly 21, 2013

      Gibbs is too gangsta for comments.

  5. AnonymousJuly 19, 2013

    Gangsts gibbs goes hard

  6. Gibbs surprised me with this one. I'd only heard him once before and was completely unimpressed, basic thug/drug rapper. I guess the East Coast beats inspired him to pick up the pace tho, he has some much-needed fire on this album. But somehow most of the songs were just ok to me. Good on first listen but no reason to replay them. Affliated and Lord Giveth, Lord Taketh Away are the only keepers. Instead of the features, I think I'm just not interested in anything Gibbs has to say, so unless the beat or his flow really does it for me, I'm bored with him.

    And Keep It Warm For Ya is TERRIBLE!