Review: Freddie Gibbs – SSS ($oul $old $eparately)

It’s nice to see something about Freddie Gibbs that’s related to his music, as in the last few months, we’ve either heard about the beef with fellow rapper Benny The Butcher (I hope that beef is dead soon – they’re too good to be beefing with each other), or making moves into acting with Peacock’s Bust Down (which he is a scene-stealer) and Down With the King. Now the time has come for Freddie Gibbs to drop another album on us, and this time it’s his big major label debut.

Yes, he released this on Warner Records (no, WMG doesn’t have anything to do with Warner Bros. Discovery! Good thing, too!) and while he has dropped a few loosie tracks here and there, there have been signs that he’s going a bit more mainstream while still retaining his style. For one thing, the single “Too Much” (featuring Moneybagg Yo) felt a bit like he’s going for his shot, but the track is still cool with me. I do love the promo around this album with its ‘ads’ about the hotel and casino, featuring Slink Johnson aka Black Jesus as one of the infomercial actors.

I admit, I was curious to see how this will go and noticed that it is not going to be like any of the albums he did with Madlib, or Alfredo with The Alchemist. So… how much soul is this worth on Soul Sold Separately?

First thing I did within a few listens is peep at the production, and it is varied throughout with credits from producers like DJ Paul, Justice League, Jake One, DJ Dahi, and Sevyn Thomas appearing more than once here, and we even got production credits from Madlib, Kaytranada, and yes: the Alchemist. Albeit they only get one track each here, but I have to say that they deliver on here. Maybe not as hard as on his other projects, but since this isn’t an album relying on one producer, I’m not counting that against it.

The whole motif of this album is Freddie is at this luxury and swanky hotel, and he’s being holed up there as in some of the tracks, it sometimes end with a message from someone checking up on him or wondering why is he’s still in there.
For example, on “Space Rabbit”, he gets a call from roast comedian Jeff Ross about what happened to him, Joe Rogan (yes, that one) arriving in Vegas to do a bunch of wild things with him like bringing Kevlar underwear and extra bullets, and once again Gerald “Slink” Johnson as Jesus/Black Jesus to check up on him. I think there’s even a voice recording of his mother on there.

“Couldn’t Be Done” opens up the album with some amazing vocals coming from singer Kelly Price, and Freddie raps about coming from the streets of Gary, Indiana and getting to where he is now with some soulful/gospel-like production, which does explain Price’s presence. Then we get to the 2nd track “Blackest in the Room,” and the first thing I recognize is that elevator music I’ve been hearing in the video of “Too Much” and on those promos for the album. I saw that The Alchemist is the main producer of this and wow, I was in love with this beat when I first heard it and now with that and the beat switch-up half-way, it’s already one of my favorite beats on here. A tad too short but I’m still with it.

Where would you go? What would you do? Who would you screw?
Black Forces, so his brain ain’t leave a stain on my shoe
Uh, this GOAT talk, bet they put my face on that mountain too (Yeah)
Blackest in the room like I’m Sam Cooke at the Fontainebleau (Yeah, yeah)
Blackest in the room like I’m Sam Cooke at the Copa (Yeah)

Plus I’m surgical with this bitch like Training Day Denzel, yeah
Blackest in the room, Fred Hampton, they came and shot it up
Blackest in the room, Jeff Fort when he hit Gaddafi up
Blackest in the room, why can’t niggas hit Clarence Thomas up?
My cousin live in Flint, she been sick since they fucked the water up

Shows, I need a hundred fifty thousand like I’m Ezal (I need a hundred fifty thou’)

“Pain & Strife” has him interpolating the chorus from Bone-Thugs-N-Harmony’s “For the Love of $” with the ‘Gotta Make that Money, mane,’ and the song is itself is cool although this is one of the features that threw me for a loop with Offset (formerly of Migos) on here, and look: most of the tracks on here doesn’t have a clear cut narrative aside from being in the Hotel and going from broke and dealing dope to lavish living, and with Offset’s verse, it’s fine. Not my favorite but it’s good with the song. “Zipper Bagz” is definitely about coke and that’s all there is to it. Also, I didn’t expect this to be the beat from Kaytranada but with more listens to it, I’m liking it a lot more than the first few times.

On the West Coast countin’ blues
But I’m whoopin’ with them ‘Rus (Suwoop, yeah)
In my neighborhood, you was either five or six, you had to choose
And folks and them was stealin’ my Starter jacket and my shoes

That’s from the first verse of his on the track “Lobster Omelette,” and damn I remember Starter clothing and a bunch of stuff from them and being that song has that title since lobster means you got that cash to afford it, that means Rick Ross is gonna be on here and we already know that Ross is always on his lavish and luxurious shit.

“Feel No Pain” has Anderson .Paak on the first verse, the hook and on the production as well, having some Eastern exotic sounds like you are in a trance with this production; the flows from Freddie are great, Raekwon’s verse was solid, and it’s just an overall fire track. “Rabbit Vision” with production from Justice League (not that one!!) is another highlight on here as well as the following track “PYS” with production and a feature credit from DJ Paul, bringing that hard aggressive Memphis sound.

There’s also the other single “Dark-Hearted,” and this one is a lot more dark and weary as this is coming from James Blake with that piano, the melodic vibe and sound I get from it does creep on ya. “Gold Rings” re-unites Freddie with Pusha T again on that coke shit, and both rappers delivered. “Grandma’s Stove” really got Freddie being very emotional on his past, and given the appearance of Musiq Soulchild and this old recording from what I assume is his mom, it does have some emotional resonance to it.

Lambo can’t get me in the booth, I get my heroin in bulk
I gave Diego so much game, I hope he take something from it
And I made plays for my nigga, I pray he make something of it
The saddest part about success is that the hate come from it
I hit up Black, got my first nine, I paid like eight-somethin’ for it, yeah

I bought a house out in Cali, I made it out for real
Pop Smoke killed in the Hills, that shit gave me the chills
Willy was my day one nigga, we done been through some shit
Thought that I was never gon’ see him after that Europe shit
Nigga, we was broke and we would share my food
I hate Jabree had to get killed for us to get back cool
A nigga stressing so I numb it with drugs, liquor, and table dances

“CIA” has Madlib back on the production board and at first, I wasn’t feeling it as much in the beginning, but afterwards, I was starting to feel it a lot. He’s definitely being more open with himself on here. Ending things here is “Decoded” with Scarface, and I like the role of Scarface being the OG thinking that the older generations of rappers failed the newer ones coming up and about how to handle that street life.

Remember them nights when I was broke, I cried on Erica’s shoulder and now my tears frozen
Man, I’m just bein’ open

And if this shit was my last album, then I went out the coldest
If this shit was my last album, at least I rap with Otis

Al took me straight to the Grammys, I wasn’t expectin’ that (Nah)

Overall, this was better than I expected. There were a few worries whether this would be too commercial or mainstream that he would lose his touch, but while the production is cleaner, more polished and sleeker, Freddie still can rap the best, spit some great flows and still deliver some good content whether he’s flexing or being on his vulnerable/emotional side.  It took a few listens for me to get into it but it’s definitely a solid album and worth listening to.

FINAL VERDICT: BUY IT. Worth the purchase including your soul….sold separately, that is.


SOUL SOLD SEPARATELY is on ESGN/Warner Records and is available on CD, digital download and on streaming services.

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