Gangsta Gibbs and Madlib complete a visual trilogy with this Jonah Schwartz video for “Deeper” from Pinata.
In 2012 “Thuggin‘” was the track and visual that sold many on the infinite potential of Freddie Gibbs’ vision beyond the standout rapping heard on Str8 Killa and Baby Face Killa (and we also saw him do it live with ease at SXSW that year). An unlikely connection with Madlib as his soundscape curator was a collaborative mystery at first, given the gangsta rap rhetoric of his lyrics, but the two found a rare harmony on the two vocal tracks for the Thuggin EP. Digging deeper into Gibbs inevitably made the duo make sense, as he was subtly tapping into the roots of hip-hop story telling that needed orchestrated instrumentals and meaningful samples to complete the narratives.
If you were anything like me at the time, this was filling a void, and all I wanted was more on wax. Two years later it came with the follow up track and visual “Shame,” and the entirety of the acclaimed Pinata album. The two artists flexed from a level above their peers, bending the spectrum into a circular script that is as conscious as it is street, keeping a creative thread throughout without sacrificing authenticity. It also included features from everyone that considers Gibbs to be a rapper’s rapper, and that list runs deep. Yet the most interesting aspect of this multi-project timeline is the three act visual accompaniment directed by Jonah Schwartz.
Overtly connected, even if only loosely, “Thuggin’,” “Shame,” and now “Deeper” follow Gibbs and company through harsh realities associated with hood life. Part one sees a project robbery and resulting collateral damage depicted as Gibbs reflects on the feeling the lifestyle gives him, while poetically nodding to similar sentiments pushed by the likes of Tupac. Next Gibbs is focused on white girl(s) in a living situation that still finds guns and drugs as mainstays, just happening in a bigger spot with the fruits of his labor (rapping and/or trapping) affording new luxuries. Maybe the deepest message of his entire body of work, the conclusion is fallout from the fast lane. He is inexplicably locked up, his girl keeps their kid with another man, a reality he struggles with in terms of retaliation, and all he really wants is to find a way to get back on his feet through reflective spliff sessions.
Cinematic even before it hits the screen, the track triumvirate in context is a modern hip-hop masterpiece. Not in the sense that it will be universally acclaimed or further Gibb’s already stout rep as a creative, but in the way that as a decade passes it will still be a relevant benchmark for touting the highlights of the 2010s hip-hop environ. He does it different, without forgetting what got us all here, and its redundant to say he does it well when it comes to the details. Roll up and navigate through what I am dubbing the Gibbs & Lib Suite.