Freddie Gibbs Is Proof That Your Greatness Outweighs Industry Rules

The Gary, Indiana, rapper’s story exemplifies the rise of a time that changed everything

David Dennis, Jr.
LEVEL
Published in
4 min readMar 15, 2021

--

Freddie Gibbs performs live at Santeria on November 5, 2019. Photo: NurPhoto/Getty Images

I try not to put too much stock in award shows. Part of that is because of who decides the winners; part is because many of these shows depend on Black artists for ratings but don’t reward them for their work. The last Black woman to win a Grammy for Best Album was Lauryn Hill—more than 20 years ago. Last century.

That said, I found myself invested in this year’s Best Rap category for the Grammys, in large part because Freddie Gibbs’ album Alfredo was one of the nominees. Nas may have ended up winning for King’s Disease, but Gibbs’ recognition felt like a win for his grind—as well as for the blog era, that uniquely revolutionary period of hip-hop he came from.

I was a writer at hip-hop blog The Smoking Section when I first heard about Gibbs. His mixtape The Miseducation of Freddie Gibbs ended up in our editor TC’s hands, and he passed it on to the TSS don, John Gotty. G immediately fell in love with the rapper whose authenticity was as certified as his ability to find the smoothest pocket on any beat he came across. One of the joys of TSS and the blog era was latching on to artists as they were coming up and doing what we could to…

--

--

David Dennis, Jr.
LEVEL

Level Sr. Writer covering Race, Culture, Politics, TV, Music. Previously: The Undefeated, The Atlantic, Washington Post. Forthcoming book: The Movement Made Us