Mixtape Monday: Hip hop edition

Paradoxically, Freddie Gibbs is the future of hip hop because he is its finest throwback. Hip hop is full of backpackers in rose-colored glasses looking for “Golden Age” rappers. Instead, Gibbs’ finds in gangsta rap something resonant to a 28-year-old from Gary, Indiana who has literally fought for all he has. With last week’s release of the Str8 Killa No Filla mixtape and an EP of the same name tomorrow, Gibbs continues to demonstrate why he’s the valedictorian of XXL’s Freshman Class.

The mixtape features unreleased cuts and new heat from the EP. Tracks like “Face Down” and “In My Hood” are unrelenting trap music with Gibbs’ trademark style. On the 90s g-funk of “The Coldest,” B.J. the Chicago Kid plays Nate Dogg to Gibbs’ Dre; on “Best Friend,” Gibbs mans the chorus himself. The tape closes out with “Slangin’ Rocks,” where he goes even deeper into rap history.

The lead single on the EP, “National Anthem,” finds Gibbs in full Tupac mode, even going as far as including a “fuck the world” chorus. He switches between a syrupy flow and a staccato double-time, and as usual, he’s deft at both. To Gibbs, thug life isn’t a choice, it’s a fact of life. Being good in the game – dealing, pimping, killing – is something you do because you have to stay alive. He’s a realist and a pragmatist, and like Tupac before him, he isn’t afraid to get political. A perfect example is the clip for “National Anthem,” where the question is, 250 years later, has anything changed in America?

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Has it really been two years since Ron Browz, Jim Jones and Juelz Santana asked us to “pop champagne?” Time flies when you’re living large, like the rappers on this mix by The Rub’s Cosmo Baker. Baker continues his History of Hip Hop series with a look at 2008, when Weezy was pushing a million units in one week instead of a DOC mop.

2008 was a fun (if frivolous) year for hip hop. Baker expertly mixes the highlights for over 100 minutes of pure bang. No one has swagga like Cosmo, so don’t miss him at U Hall this week for Red Friday.