Review Summary: I'm back, and I ain't going nowhere this time.
Back in June 2016, Indiana rapper Freddie Gibbs was arrested right before he was to take the stage in France. He was charged for a sexual assault that was allegedly committed in Austria a year prior. After spending four months in French and Austrian prisons, along with spending over $50,000 on bail, he was acquitted of all charges when no strong evidence was presented against him. You Only Live 2wice
’s artwork depicts Gibbs as a Christ-like figure. Perhaps this is alluding to a resurrection of sorts, which makes sense considering the trials and tribulations he’s dealt with; affecting his music career and family life in America.
You Only Live 2wice
is a short, concise affair. With only eight tracks, and clocking in at 32 minutes, Freddie’s first post-jail release can barely be considered a full-length album. However, in a world of mixtapes and albums that have over 20 tracks, and last 60-70 minutes, You Only Live 2wice
is relatively refreshing. Every track here has a purpose, covering diverse ground musically and lyrically.
Musically, this release finds an engaging middle ground, possessing the menacing trap rap of 2015’s Shadow of a Doubt
, and the jazz rap production provided by Madlib on their 2014 collaboration, Piñata
. “Amnesia” is a banger with production that wouldn’t be out place on Shadow of a Doubt
, or even a Future release. It covers typical, boastful lyrical ground, but Freddie’s braggadocio and flow are on point; he takes an exciting instrumental to the next level. On the other side of the sonic spectrum, we have “Alexys”. This BADBADNOTGOOD collaboration has the Toronto natives successfully doing their best Madlib impression. The upright bass, Freddie’s performance, and the pounding keys give the track a low-key and intense vibe at the same time.
Lyrically, Gibbs is as sharp as ever, seamlessly flowing over a varied beat selection. Album highlight “20 Karat Jesus” slyly drops two different viral physical attacks from Solange and Dennis Rodman in identical hooks. You Only Live 2wice
is filled to the brim with familiar topics: moving coke, smoking weed, and sexual conquests are all revisited here. “Phone Lit” references all three of these topics in a single rapid-fire verse. However, upon closer examination, this album gets more personal and vulnerable. We get glimpses of his life and thoughts in prison overseas, regrets about certain life decisions, and a desire to raise his daughter right. “Crushed Glass” contains exposition about his sexual assault case, and has him expressing his frustration with being stuck in confinement, missing show dates and contact with his family. Album closer “Homesick” is arguably the lyrical highlight here. Its title explains its content best. Accompanied by a beautiful instrumental, Gibbs laments that he spends too much time being loyal to his crew rather than his daughter. As he gets older, it’s clear he wants to make big lifestyle changes.
You Only Live 2wice
is another high-quality release to Freddie Gibbs’s consistent discography. There’s something for everyone here. The diverse collection has cuts that will appeal to fans of Shadow of a Doubt and
fans of Piñata
. Freddie Gibbs is back, and he’s still got it. With multiple collaborations with Madlib (a sequel to Piñata
) and Curren$y announced, the man still has a lot of upcoming material for people who found this release too short. For me, however, You Only Live 2wice
is a great album that covers more ground in eight tracks than many hip-hop releases do in over 20.