“This is what Gary, Indiana sounds like,” Fredrick Tipton, a.k.a. Freddie Gibbs, told Snoop Dogg on GGN, replayed here on the track, “McDuck.” He got into rap because he was hearing what rappers were doing on the radio and simply just believed that he could do it better. “What does a Gary, Indiana rapper sound like? I kinda created that sound,” said Gibbs, “It was me first. After me, there will be you.” As boastful as the text might appear, it was actually said most humbly on GGN/”Mc Duck.” Nonetheless, he’s still right. Though living in LA for the past 10 years or so, Freddie Gibbs is the definitive sound of a rapper who grew up in Gary, Indiana – for now. Signed to Interscope for a time, he met a lot of rappers he would eventually have as big featuring MC’s when he was dropped from the label, most notably that of legendary underground producer Madlib, of whom produced Freddie’s big comeback and breakthrough record, Piñata.
Recently becoming a father to a young baby girl, Shadow of a Doubt follows Gibbs as he looks through the rearview mirror, reflecting on the past behind him, preparing himself for his new life as a father: what can he shake, and what might stay with him? The phrase, to know something “beyond a shadow of a doubt,” meaning that you are certain that it is true, appears here as the record title without the “beyond,” as if to say he’s not 100% sure about everything; he’s not “beyond” the shadow of doubt, he is the shadow of doubt.
When it all comes to down it though, Shadow of a Doubt is a thug record, where introspection can be drawn, Freddie Gibbs really excels on his hazy, drug-infused, thug themes tracks. Released earlier this March, his EP Pronto showcased what Shadow of a Doubt might sound like, and to my surprise, all three tracks on Pronto were just fantastic. From the flow, to the control, to the choruses, to the production, Pronto was Freddie Gibbs at his best. Here on Shadow of a Doubt, there’s a lot of similarities to Pronto, such as tracks, “Careless,” “McDuck,” “Fuckin’ Up the Count,” and the amazing “Extradite (feat. Black Thought of the Roots).”
Where Gibbs could have delved further into his “insecurities,” it’s the type of music, themes, and personality of Freddie Gibbs that holds back from getting, “too deep,” or “too sensitively personal.” Shadow of a Doubt talks about his life in the drug game, masculinity, racial issues, and while it does have its lows, seeming monotonous at some times, like on the tracks “Mexico” or the repetitive “Basketball Wives,” it also does have its fair share of highs. Gibbs’ singing is actually not that bad, the production is just fantastic, and Freddie’s rapping seems to only improve as he goes at it. I do enjoy the cohesive quality of the record as well, though I think “Insecurities” makes for a way better ending then being third to last, as it sounds like he’s being consumed by the shadow of doubt. Though I’m sure Gibbs chose the closer as “Cold Ass Nigga” to come out on top at the end of the record, it doesn’t have that same effect that “Insecurities” had. Nonetheless, as Freddie Gibbs continues to make music and form more tight narratives, there’s nothing I’ve seen so far that would point opposite to his further success.