Review Summary: Gangsta Gibbs leaves no Shadow of a Doubt.
2014 was a huge year for Gary, Indiana's own Freddie Gibbs. A classic collaboration with one of hip hops behind the boards legend Madlib not only drew critical acclaim, but truly showed just how versatile he is. Leading into 2015, we got a glimpse of things to come with the production behemoth Pronto EP (seriously, listen to "Diamonds") and the Kaytranda collab "Dopehouse." Both of those releases revealed that Freddie Gibbs was still Freddie Cane Freddie Corleone at heart, but now is more of a father of the game (whilst giving birth to his first child, Irie.) But us junkies were still knockin on Gibbs' multi lock door, beggin for a new lick. That lick became a pound, as Shadow of a Doubt is unquestionably Freddie's hardest release to date. In short, Gangsta Gibbs pistol whips you and takes your wallet with SOD.
On opening track “Rearview,” Freddie establishes his powerful presence in the gangsta rap world as early as possible. A decent opener, but leaves a lot more to be desired. Trust me, there is. The group of tracks 3-9 are as consistent as possible, as the catchy as hell Careless proves to be the best work of Gibbs' career. Gibbs seems so ridiculously comfortable out of his comfort zone, as he melodically spits his way from each verse into the stunning chorus. Banking off the success of “Pinata,” Freddie goin’ in on the raw produced pre-released track “Extradite” reveals more versatility from the midwest home invader and with the help of a perfectly placed hook cameo from rising trap star Tory Lanez, “Mexico” delivers one of Freddie's most polished choruses. Then, something strange happens. In a bizarre turn of events, Gucci Mane actually audibly raps on "Ten Times" displaying that its simply put up or shut up on a Gibbs track, as he’s been prone to dominate (listen to “Scottie Pippen” by Curren$y for a straight up murder.) The undeniable consistency of these jams are what makes Shadow of a Doubt the most impressive release of his still young career, and we haven’t even finished. In terms of an album closer, "Cold Ass N****" it isn’t a memorable track, but with the 14 shots that come before it, you’re already dead and buried deep in a Gary graveyard.
What makes this album different than other Gibbs releases comes down to, per usual, how Gibbs works with his producers. Freddie, once again, doesn't just compliment good production he capitalizes on stunning production, evident on Boi-1da’s syrup infested “Fuckin’ Up the Count” and on TGOD’s in house bomber Sledgren’s “My Boy.” Kaytranda makes a typical subtle appearance on “Insecurities” unveiling the natural chemistry between the two. Certainly not the strongest track on the record, but a smooth ride into the end.
All in all, Gibbs returns to his roots on this full length while delivering some of his hardest tracks to date. Shadow of a Doubt leaves no doubt that Gangsta Gibbs is one of the best in the game, and in a year filled with relatively impressive records (Wave[s], Summertime’06 and even DS2) Gibbs stakes his claim with a career building release.
“Don’t Fuck with me stay in your lane.”