Freddie Gibbs on ‘ESGN’ and How Young Jeezy Made Him Stagnant

Photo: Danny Manhattan

I made a mistake signing to CTE and now with the ESGN album I’m about to erase that mistake,” says Freddie Gibbs referring to his stint running with Young Jeezy’s record label. The Gary, Indiana-based rapper’s spell on CTE might have been a creatively unfulfilling one, but the experience helped prompt Gibbs to embrace the self-sufficient route and will release ESGN on his own label. Hive spoke with Gibbs this week about why he considers the 19-track project to be “the definitive Freddie Gibbs album,” fleshing out ESGN’s guest features, and why he had to sever ties with Young Jeezy.

When did you start recording ESGN?

I started recording right when I got off CTE, after I made that announcement. The first song I wrote was “The Real G Money.” It’s a self-explanatory song, it’s me, just burning my money, it’s hardcore.

That song’s produced by Lifted, right?

Ah, yeah, Lifted is crazy. He did a lot of work with Kanye, he did “Mercy,” he also did “Paper” on my album. We did a lot of records together and we’ve got a lot more to come too. He’s a great guy to work with. I only work with people who I’m cool with and he’s one of my homies. It was super easy, we’ve got a good chemistry.

You also have SMKA producing on the album with the song “Have U Seen Her.”

Yeah, man, that’s just me meeting them by running through the industry doing my thing. I met them in Atlanta and we started knocking out tracks. Since then they’re always involved in my projects. They’re definitely one of the best production teams in the game.

What’s the vibe of “Have U Seen Her” like?

That’s some hard-hitting real music. The vibe was we went to a strip-club and we was doing our thing. It’s about the hustle, from the strip-clubs to the streets to the dope houses.

How did you get B.J. the Chicago Kid involved on the song “Lose Control”?

Ah, man, that’s my homie so we’re close friends and the music is easy from that point. He brings that soulful edge to the song — I wanted something like that to smooth the track out but still keep it raw. He does that.

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