Freddie Gibbs Explains Scarface’s Genius In His Favorite Rap Verse (Video)
Freddie Gibbs has always been very open about how much Scarface has influenced his Rap style. On Pinata, Gangsta Gibbs dedicated a song to the Geto Boys member, reworking the lines from his eponymous Grip It! On That Other Level song. The Houston, Texas Rap legend appeared on the very same album, courtesy of “Broken.” Over the last decade, Freddie Gibbs has recruited some of the former Rap-A-Lot Records hit-makers that have worked with ‘Face, including Mike Dean.
For Pitchfork‘s “Verses” series, Freddie Kane breaks down Scarface’s “Homies & Thugs (Remix)” (embedded below) as his favorite verse. The My Homies single that featured a posthumous Tupac Shakur appearance as well as Master P and Doracell. Over an interpolation of Whodini’s “Friends,” Scarface’s 1998 single breaks down how he’s able to maintain a platinum career without compromising his credibility and authenticity in the South Acres neighorhood that raised him.
“My favorite rappers [are people who] I believe in. I buy into everything, not just the music—especially nowadays with music being so fast-food and so disposable. Scarface, I buy into that. I believe that. I love that,” Gibbs testifies at the beginning of the video. The Gary, Indiana MC says he was in junior high school preparing for manhood when he encountered this song. “Scarface was speaking to me. He’s basically saying in that sh*t, Yo, I can live in the suburbs and do what I want to do, and still come to the ghetto whenever I want to. I love it because the ghetto always shows me love back. I felt like Scarface is one of those guys [who] can walk through any neighborhood and nobody’ll touch him. He ain’t have to have a gun; he ain’t have to have nothin’. I felt that he was that respected; I admired that probably more than anything.”
Freddie raps along to the song, as guests do on the Verses series. He breaks down why the song makes sense speaking to the minds of those from an impoverished background. “He’s speaking about a lot of sh*t in his verse. There’s a lot of undertones and underlying things [like] gentrification. That’s relevant to what we’re going through right now. One day they’re gonna gentrify my city: Gary. Gary was basically 98% Black my whole life. The population is dwindling. That’s what they do, man. They lock us all up, kill us, have us kill each other, and then come in when the neighborhood is basically reduced to rubble. That ni**a Laurence Fishburne told us that in Boyz N’ The Hood. Y’all ni**as wasn’t listening,” the ESGN leader says with a laugh.
Gibbs also highlights that within the realness of the verse, Scarface was still capable of humorous punchlines. “A lot of this sh*t is serious,” he notes. “But you’ve definitely got to have a sense of humor with this sh*t. I think a lot of these Rap ni**as take they’selves too seriously. That’s why I don’t believe it.”
More than 20 years since the platinum feature-focused album dropped, a grown-up Freddie Gibbs says that he feels the message. Like Scarface, he prides himself on his ghetto passport, earned through being genuine and human. He adds that Brad’s line, “Fear the reaper that no man born or woman harm me” may become his next arm tattoo. “That’s such a smooth of sayin’, ‘Look, ain’t none of y’all ni**as f*ckin’ with me.'” He also suggests that Scarface used this verse to speak to politicians and point out their lack of social understanding surrounding the ‘hood. “This whole political system in America is f*cked up for Black and Brown people—just uneducated and poor people, period.” Moments later, he touts, Scarface’s “Homies & Thuggs” rhymes as “the best verse of all-time, guaranteed. I just got chills right now listening to that sh*t.”
At the end of the video, Freddie Gibbs calls Scarface from his iPhone. When the MC who has “Uncle Face” in his contacts tells Brad Jordan about what he’s just said to cameras, the O.G. responds, “Oh sh*t; you ain’t told them nothin’ wrong.” Gibbs asks him his best verse. “Man, I’m on this golf course; I don’t give a f*ck about no rappin’, ni**a.” With that, the avid golfer gets back to the links.
#BonusBeat: The remix video version of “Homies & Thuggs”: