Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

Freddie Gibbs grapples with success across $oul $old $eparately's achingly great concept

"$oul $old $eparately"

Release date: 30 September 2022
Freddie Gibbs - $oul $old $eparately cover
29 September 2022, 00:00 Written by Steven Loftin

Success is a double-edged sword.

Often relying upon a certain level of sacrifice and strong determination, it inevitably changes you. But, when the Triple-$ hotel and casino resort is waiting at the end of that troubled yellow-brick road? Then it doesn’t seem like such a sacrifice.

$oul $old $eparately is Freddie Gibbs exploring the hallowed halls of such ideas. Wandering through tales of the Indiana-native's past, present, and future, as the luxurious concierge interludes piece the picture together (where our pleasure is their priority), on his first solo outing since 2018's bombast-filled Freddie, Gibbs’ AR50-volleying bars concerning his journey – yes, the drugs, the women – are tighter than ever.

Playing well as a concept – with Gibbs hiding out in the penthouse while everyone from Joe Rogan to Jesus (which is perhaps the greatest hubris move he’s made to date) tries to check in on him – $$$ does so without glorifying the process to get there. It’s as reflective as it is owning – Gibbs knows what he’s done to get here, and he’s never been scared to approach it – but it would be ridiculous to not relish in the power, even while things fall apart.

Beginning with Gibbs gloating he’s rented out the whole top floor ("Couldn't Be Done"), the purposeful heavy-loading of the first half plays into his descent into reflective purgatory which collapses near the end. “Grandma’s Stove” is the most openhearted Gibbs gets. As he excavates his personal life to a solemn, atmospheric beat it’s here $$$ finds its golden moment. Delivering the overall concept home, reflecting upon the hurt, and misunderstanding, while wrestling with demons before ending with a voicemail from his mom, once he’s over this, nothing can hold Gibbs back.

Similarly, $$$ is unrelenting. The beats flip from aggressive and driven (“Too Much”) to ethereal and glimmering in the reflection of dirty, hard-worn jewellery ("Blackest In The Room"). Gibbs does so by bringing together an arsenal of producers and guest spots, creating a flow that chops and changes almost seamlessly. Highlights include Anderson .Paak and Raekwon’s mournful moment on “Feel No Pain”, while James Blake produced “Dark Hearted” is as achingly beautiful as you’d expect. Meeting of the drug-rap minds, Pusha T’s turnout on “Gold Rings” brings the right amount of strength without embattling against Gibbs, as Rick Ross excellently lends his Maybach opulence on “Lobster Omelette”. Also featuring some of Gibbs’ finest moments (“Space Rabbit”, “PYS”,) this is a project that firmly reminds us that while Gibbs is acknowledged, he’s still far from the acclaim deserved.

There’s a generalised dichotomy of Gibbs fans - pre-Piñata and post-Piñata. The Madlib collaboration is deemed his finest moment, but when Gibbs is flying solo, taking production from different houses, he stands tall as an artist that knows his direction – knows his drill – and can expose that. Throughout his discography, he’s proved himself adept at rapping in different arenas while refusing the mainstream draw of selling his vision for cheap. Souls may be sold separately on the trail for gold, but respect is earned, and Freddie Gibbs continues to rack up the points with another stellar entry in an almost-infallible collection of projects.

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