Freddie Gibbs technically grew up in Indiana, but don’t think for a second that he’s a Pacers or Colts fan. Only about 40 minutes from downtown Chicago, Northwest Indiana isn’t like the rest of the corn-laden state. It’s called the Chicagoland area for a reason. Gibbs grew up a Bulls and Bears fan and has remained loyal throughout the rough times of Eddy Curry and Kordell Stewart.
With the NBA All-Star Game around the corner, Gangster Gibbs took some time to let us know who his all-time favorite NBA players and teams are, and what it was like growing up during the Jordan era. Switching sports he spoke about how he could solve Chicago’s problems if the Bears made him general manager and why Peyton Manning should be content with his one ring instead of trying to chase Tom Brady and Ben “Rapelisberger." Finally, Gibbs touched on his life as an artist, talking about what it’s been like working with Madlib, what upcoming projects to expect, and how he deals with the industry label bullshit.
Who is your current favorite NBA player?
It’s gotta be Derrick Rose. He’s from my home turf and plays for the home turf, so it’s gotta be Derrick Rose. He’s gonna get those back-to-back MVPs.
Why do you think he deserves it over players like LeBron, or Kobe, or Dwight?
He just changes the whole dimension of the game. He is the most valuable player to his team in the league. Without LeBron, the Heat still got an identity, without D-Wade, the Heat still have an identity, but without Rose, the Bulls have no direction at all. He puts that team on his back every night, and he handles it. That’s why he won MVP last year.
Where do you think they would be if they didn’t get that lucky draft pick?
The bottom of the East. Rose is just a factor. It’s not even about the numbers that he puts up, it's about the way he changes the game with his quickness going to the hole. He opens it up for a lot of guys. The other motherfuckers on the Bulls need to step up and make shots.
With Rose’s injuries, who do you think needs to step up?
Luol Deng, maybe John Lucas. It’s definitely not going to be C.J. Watson, I don’t like him. We need to trade him. [Carlos] Boozer got to step up, too. We just need somebody to put some points on the board and we’ll be fine.
Do you think with Rose in the lineup that they have the pieces to get to the championship?
Definitely. I think we can make it to the Finals, we just got to get past the Heat. The Knicks ain’t soft either, so it’s going to be a tough matchup, but if we get past the Heat and the Knicks, I think we’ll be alright. There’s no other guard in the game that’s as dynamic as Derrick Rose. There aren’t too many people that can matchup with him alone.
Last year LeBron was able to hold him a bit.
Yeah, a little bit. He slowed him down in the playoffs. I’m pretty sure they’ll try to use that same strategy having LeBron guard Rose in the end. They’re smart. LeBron definitely is one of the best players in the league—if not the best—so to have him on Rose just makes sense. LeBron is quick, he can keep up. If I were the coach, I’d use that same strategy, but we’ll work around it. For him to draw LeBron and whoever else, that just opens it up for somebody else to step up and score.
The other motherfuckers on the Bulls need to step up and make shots.
Aside from Jordan, who is your favorite player of all time?
Charles Barkley. I just like the way he played the game. He was fierce and went for his. Chuck carried every team he was on. The tenacity he played with, it was just unmatched. And he never got a ring. I always was rooting for him to get a ring. When we played the Suns in ‘93, I was like “Hmmm, should I root for Chuck?” But nah, man, I didn’t want him to win it that year. When him and Scottie [Pippen] were on the same team in Houston, I wanted him to win one. I was like, "OK, that’d be cool if they win the championship," but it didn’t happen. Chuck is one of the greatest players ever, and definitely the greatest player that never won a championship.
Which of the Bulls teams would you say is your favorite?
Probably the ‘96 team. The team that won 72 games. That’s probably the best and my favorite team ever. Rodman, Pippen, Jordan all together in unison. That was something to see.
Were you able to go to some of the games?
Yeah, a couple, but it was hard. When you could get Bulls tickets back then, it was like striking gold. I went to a Bulls game when it was still in Chicago Stadium before they built the United Center.
What was that like?
That shit was crazy, man. The Madhouse on Madison. That was when they were winning the first round of championships, the first three. I think that was like ‘92 when I went to that game.
How old were you?
I think I was about 10.
How was it different?
The United Center is a fairly new arena, so the Chicago Stadium was just old. It had been there for a while, and it was just smaller. There was definitely plenty of magic there, though.
Shifting from hoops, I saw your tweet about Peyton Manning. You think he should hang it up?
I think his team is about to get rid of him, and I can’t see him playing for somebody else. Maybe he will, but with a neck injury that severe, I myself wouldn’t risk it. I know some football players, and they tell me the neck and the back ain’t nothing to play with. Not only are you testing your ability to play, but you’re putting your livelihood and your ability to walk, function, and move on the line. God forbid that would happen to Peyton Manning. I personally don’t think it’s worth the risk. He loves the game and the doctor cleared him, but that many neck surgeries is no joke. The neck is not something you should have surgery on that much.
This was a rough season for him to be out with a bunch of his records getting broken, too.
Yeah, I’m sure he just wants to get in there and pass, pass, pass, pass. And then you had fuckin’ [Tim] Tebow in there winning, going 6-12 for fuckin’ 81 yards and still winning the game and shit. I know that had to be eating him up. He was probably like, "This kid is fucking my whole shit up. He’s stealing all the glory. Now he’s America’s hero. I was America’s hero. Now it’s Tebow throwing 80 yards a game."
But he won a ring and MVPs, so he ain’t got nothin’ to prove. Go ahead and leave the game. You brought a lot to the game, we respect you, you’re a Hall of Famer, just get out this bitch. You made your mark, you made your imprint, you’re the new Johnny Unitas. You have nothing to prove. You are one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. You are Top 5, you just don’t have all the hardware. You have one, but fuck it, most motherfuckers don’t get one. It’s like, man, with guys like Brady in the league with so many rings, and then you got guys like Ben Roethlisberger’s punk ass. Rapelisberger. I’m glad Tebow bounced his ass out the playoffs. Fuck the Steelers, man. Motherfucker looking like a 1920s mob boss with that hat on and shit.
The Bears need to let me be GM. Give me the position, and I’d do it for half the pay.
But when you got guys like that sitting on a couple rings, you know Peyton wants to get out there and get more. Peyton is the type of quarterback that could have won five Super Bowls with the right coach.
What’d you think of the Bears season and some of their offseason moves?
Fuck Mike Martz [former Bears offensive coordinator who resigned in the offseason]. I mean, if [new Bears OC] Mike Tice is going to get the offense going, then I’m cool with it. They need to take Devin Hester out of the receivers and get a real fucking receiver in there. They need a main dude. They got Roy Williams, he alright, but Sam Hurd isn’t going to get the job done. We just need some more shit for our team. We need [Jay] Cutler and [Matt] Forte to stay healthy for the whole year. We got rid of [general manager] Jerry Angelo. Fuck him, he wasn’t getting anybody. The Bears need to let me be GM. Give me the position, and I’d do it for half the pay.
What would be your first move?
Well first, I’d have to go in there and review everything. I’d have to see where we stand in the draft, who we’re going to pick, shit like that. There are holes that need to be filled. I would definitely make a trade to get Cutler a bonafide receiver. Some free agent that’s coming up, maybe. I wanted Andre Johnson, his contract is about to run out, but I know the Texans are going to pay him. We need a guy like that. I wouldn’t mind trading up for a good receiver like [Justin] Blackmon coming out of Oklahoma State, but I doubt we’d get him. He’s probably going to be the first receiver taken. We just got to get a good receiver out of college, somebody that’s hungry and wants to get out there and get that ball.
What do you think of the halftime shows that they put up at the Super Bowls?
That shit is whack to me. There’s very little rap. It’s America, so nobody is in there that I want to see. When the Super Bowl halftime comes on, I usually go roll some weed or something. I haven’t watched that since Janet pulled her titty out. That was the last good one. After she pulled her titty out, it was over. I’m not going to say it’s racist, but it’s definitely biased. For her to be chastised like that, you know, Justin Timberlake was in there too, and he was the one that pulled it off. I just think it was a staple in American history.
Moving to music, what’s the message you and Madlib are trying to send with your latest work?
Just be afraid. I got some things in the pipeline coming up. I just don’t think that anybody is doing what I’m doing or rhyming the way I do.
What’s the process been like working with Madlib?
It’s been dope, it’s been crazy. He’d send me some weird ass sample, and then it’s my job to make something out of it. You start with some big lump of clay, and I got to mold it. We shoot back and forth and we have to mold it into something, then it just comes out to something crazy like Thuggin’. There aren’t any other records like that out. I wasn’t shooting for trying to make a so-called “single” these days. If you’re lookin’ for that, if you’re looking for what’s on the radio right now and what everybody dances to, then don’t even bother with this Madlib shit I’m about to do. Don’t even fuck with it. That’s not what I’m doing with this. I’m just making something that really hasn’t been done. Madlib hasn’t really worked with my type of artist before, and I haven’t worked with a guy like Madlib, so I just think this is something special, something dope.
For you personally, is it something similar to your old style or something completely new?
I’m not changing my style of rap. You’re going to get me over Madlib beats. I’m not about to rap differently or do something weird. It’s going to be the same gangster shit, the same subject matter, just over different production. It’s going to bring it out in a different way.
What’s it been like getting work with all the big names lately. “Talk to Me” had Young Jeezy, Eminem, and Travis Barker all on one track.
It was dope. Shouts out to Jeezy. I just wish it would have been on Jeezy’s album, but you know how that industry red tape shit goes.
Have you had to deal with a lot of that?
There are politics in this shit. If you ain’t down with certain people and what they’re about, then they don’t fuck with you. That’s just how that shit goes. I don’t really give a fuck. I do what I do and move how I move. If they fuck with me, then you know who you are, you can holler at me. I’m not too worried about this world of entertainment and the people in it. I punch my clock like the rest of these motherfuckers and get my bread up. These motherfuckers put they drawers on every day and bleed just like I do, so I don’t put anything extra or treat them differently than I treat the next guy. That’s what they want, though. They want you to put them on a pedestal, because they are who they are, but respect goes a long way with me, and you got to give it to get it.
You released a lyric book after A Cold Day in Hell dropped. What was your thought process behind that?
It was just something cool to do, something different. When everybody goes left, I’m gonna go right most of the time. I just wanted to throw something out there, because I write all my own lyrics.
If you’re looking for what’s on the radio right now and what everybody dances to, then don’t even bother with this Madlib shit I’m about to do. Don’t even fuck with it. That’s not what I’m doing with this.
Aside from the Madlib project, what else do you have coming up?
I’m probably about to drop some new shit, a new mixtape soon. I’m just workin’. I’m about to come out with a variety of things. I’m about to do a project with Ski Beatz, that’s my homie, we just choppin’ it up. You’re going to see a lot of Freddie Gibbs. Me and Dame are up in this movie thing together, too.
Aside from yourself, who do you like that’s coming up?
I like K.R.I.T., I like Kendrick Lamar, he’s dope, I like A$AP Rocky, my homeboy Y.P. from Chicago, there are a lot of guys. I could sit here all day and name dudes that I fuck with. My homeboy Schoolboy Q. We out here working, and I’m just thankful to be in this game and be able to turn a profit off of this shit.
A lot of people were saying that 2011 was the year of the white rapper. What do you think of that?
I don’t really know, because I don’t really listen to that shit. I’m in my own world when it comes to this rap shit. I don’t really look at it as a color thing, so maybe I never really looked at it from that standpoint. If you tell me your story, and you’re from where you’re from, then that’s it. Cause whether you’re white or black, ain’t none of these motherfuckers me. I don’t give a fuck if they white, black, purple, it is what it is. A lot of these fuckers, white or black, are fucking up the rap game putting out bullshit music.
What’d you think of Mac Miller with his independent success?
I heard about it. I don’t really fuck with it, but I don’t really know it. I hear of it and see it, and we have mutual people that I know, it’s just not my style of rap. It’s dope if you fuck with it, though. I’m not knocking it whatsoever. The type of shit I bump is just different than what he makes.
Ever listen to Machine Gun Kelly?
No, not at all. Nah, never [laughs]. Like I said though, doesn’t matter the color or year of the white rapper or whatever. You’re either whack or dope.
Anything else you want to add?
Just fuck with Freddie Gibbs. Put that in your tape deck.
Follow @Complex_Sports for more news and commentary.