Released: March 31
Freddie Gibbs was arrested for sexual assault in June of last year. That September, he was acquitted.
Those facts, loaded as they are, make up the backdrop of this album. They are there in the title, in the cover art of Gibbs-as-resurrected-Jesus, in the album-ending monologue that details his time behind bars following his arrest, directly in the lyrics of more than one of the songs, and in the project’s central themes of jealousy and repentance.
“Money make me forget/I got amnesia” goes the hook of one of You Only Live 2wice’s eight tunes. The whole album, though, is about what Gibbs is trying to forget, and how he can’t. There are details embedded everywhere that make his stories of dealing drugs, overcoming jealous friends, and wanting to be better for his daughter come alive. A friend doesn’t just drive a car—he “used to pull up in a ‘99 GS300.” His connects in D.C. don’t sell drugs, they sell “scorpion packs.”
It is Gibbs’ duality (“I donate money to children, but I’m still selling drugs,” as he artfully and starkly puts it) that comes through most strongly on the project. He’s doing bad, and surrounded by haters at every turn. But he wants nothing more than to leave it behind and be a good example for the next generation. Throughout, he’s thinking of his friends who “took the trip I took, but they don’t get to leave.”
You Only Live 2wice may not present any answers, and the real-life circumstances that inform the album are disturbing, but it is a compelling picture of an artist who is caught in the middle, wanting to move on but unable, due to forces both external and (mostly) internal to fully leave his old life behind.—Shawn Setaro