Just weeks before the curtains have officially closed on 2018, the duo of New Orleans rhymer Curren$y and Indiana-native Freddie Gibbs have skydived, on “Fetti,” into the perplexing sonic environments of producer The Alchemist. The duo originally hatched the idea for a collaboration almost a year and a half ago, back in January 2017. However, after that, talks surrounding the nine-track project seemed to dissipate into thin air. Then, suddenly, in September, Curren$y took to Instagram to tell fans he had completed his half of “Fetti.” Gibbs was able to master his verses shortly after and tweeted that the project was complete.
Given that both musicians have already released several highly lauded projects this year, “Fetti” feels like a rather generous treat for fans of the rappers. Gibbs contributed the futuristic auditory earthquake “Freddie,” in June, and Curren$y has released a whopping five mixtapes over the course of the year — most notably “The Marina,” which is entirely produced by Harry Fraud, with guest appearances from Wiz Khalifa, Action Bronson and French Montana.
The Southern veteran rhyme slanger is famous for his enormous collection of projects, almost all of which are layered with low-key stoner anthems that serenade with colorful instrumentals and breezy wordplay. The Indiana native is notable for his ferocious flows and vivid recollections of violence and crime, along with his ability to sing and craft fluent harmonies.
The two rappers are perfect complements to each other, not only because of their skillsets but also the similar trajectory of their careers. Curren$y was introduced to the general public when he made the cut for XXL magazine’s top 10 freshman list in 2009, while Gibbs made the same list a year later. Since then, Gibbs and Curren$y have remained strictly on the outside of the hip-hop industry’s mainstream and have produced a bevvy of content for their respective cult followings. Both rappers are reaching their late 30s, but they continue to evolve as artists, even in the latter stretch of their career.
The introduction to the collaboration, “Location Remote,” begins with a distant cry out from Gibbs over an infatuatingly woozy rift, as Curren$y delivers his signature tag, “La-Da-Da, La-Da-Da., La-Da-Da.” The atmosphere gives listeners chills before Curren$y breaches the first verse of the project. As the components of the instrumental begin to come together, he raps, “East side, laboratory coats, testing the dope / I’m in a location remote, Ivory Coast / Tryna get high as I can go, the glass ceiling broke / Its never over, sole controller, all our chains golder” with a sharpness in his voice that lets you know immediately that they are serious as hell about this project.
Curren$y continues to feast on the echoed beat until his verse bleeds into the grizzly energy of Gibbs in the second verse of the track. Gibbs boasts with his chest heaved to the sky as he lyrically picks apart the epic setting Alchemist has composed. The flow switch-up he employs just before the track concludes proves the wondrous ways Gibbs can manipulate the rhythm of his words. Given the abundance of clever rhymes, imagery and metaphors packed into the nearly three-minute serving, from a lyrical standpoint, the duo’s powerful verses set the bar high for the rest of the project.
Along with the top-tier wordplay, the opening track introduces the rich and interactive vocal samples from films, interviews, news reports and several other outlets that are scattered across the album. At times, they directly interact with the rappers’ narrative verses. On the adrenaline-pulsing song “Saturday Night Special,” the two verses have quick interludes that are excerpts of interviews that intensify the mentality of each verse once they continue.
For example, in Gibbs’ verse, he is interrupted by a breakdown in the instrumental and an excerpt saying, “Freddie Gibbs, I heard the name, but I didn’t know / Like I didn’t know how good he was / It was after the photoshoot / After I had already shook hands with him and met him / I told him when I seen him again, too, out in LA / I was like, yo, I was like, yo, I ain’t even know, like, you really good.”
Gibbs follows the excerpt with a vicious level of hunger in his voice. Gangsta Gibbs’ verse on this track is one of the most emphatic on “Fetti” and a major feat because of its raw emotion, witty references and bursting flows. It sounds like Gibbs was curling cinderblocks and chewing broken glass in anticipation of the track; the song is a gorgeous and unapologetic expression of hostility. The placement of excerpts interacting with the rappers’ verses is just one example of the way “Fetti” thrives in experimenting with conventional song structures.
Another track that is heavily assisted by The Alchemist’s use of samples is the two-track “The Blow,” where an old blues vocal sample dictates the hook of the song. The instrumental of the song is less intense than the previous track, with an assortment of instruments that come together to feel like epiphany, which is fitting since the refrain sings, “You don’t know how far, you don’t know how much, you don’t go, when you f—-n’ with the blow.”
Thus, the message of the song is about how cocaine blocks the major realizations in life. The Alchemist creates an authentic experience with the track, while Curren$y and Gibbs contribute razor sharp bars, like Gibbs’ creative line: “About to take a trip, I got coke and dope on my grocery list / Oxycontin pack, I be switchin’ rackets like Djokovic.” The brisk cadence of Gibbs’ raps, despite his wide-reaching vocabulary, is flabbergasting.
The transitions between the tracks in the first half enhance the quick-paced listening experience of “Fetti.” The change-ups are not only wonderful to the ears, but also nearly seamless enough to make a listener think the first four songs are one. The masterful song-mixing from Alchemist strengthens the aesthetic of an album because he can make a collection of individual tracks sound full and intertwined.
Curren$y and Gibbs share parts in six of the nine songs and build chemistry through how they feed off of each other’s verses. Their contrasting styles also complement each other well and work together in a good-cop, bad-cop kind of way, which creates a balance between Curren$y’s chill demeanor and Gibbs’ ferocity, making “Fetti” entertaining throughout.
Although the duo is terrific together, in the middle of the tape they split up, and Curren$y takes on “No Window Tints” solo, followed by “Willie Lloyd” as Gibbs’ independent track. Both songs bring strengths to “Fetti”; “No Window Tints” is a quick minute and a half, where Curren$y flaunts his rap abilities over an active and luxurious instrumental. The bars on this short song are inventive, and the only complaint I have is that it isn’t longer!
“Willi Lloyd” is a gritty, cold-blooded output by Gibbs where he raps like the Grim Reaper with a machine gun for a mouth. The two solo outputs are strong and add variety to the track list. However, Gibbs’ other solo track, “Now & Later Gators,” is the only song that pales in comparison to the rest of the album. The song should be excluded from the project due to its empty space, and the inclusion of the track creates a bigger hole than it would for, say, an hour-long album.
Following the stand-alone performances, Gibbs and Curren$y reunite to close the album out with the two final tracks, “Tapatio” and “Bundy & Sincere.” The penultimate track begins with a somber tune and catches the listener off guard with a sudden eruption of hypnotizing plucking strings, angel-like background vocals and deep base. The two rappers devour the vigorous instrumental with strong writing — as they do throughout “Fetti.”
“Bundy and Sincere” closes the album with a more casual and playful ambiance. They spit sturdy bars over the dexterous beat Alchemist has put together. The final track is an epic finale with the inclusion of a touching Mac Miller tribute and Gibbs’ clever bars to conclude the project:
“Uh, wet dope on the Bounty paper, I lay it down
Let it dry, you can leave the money and stick around
Feel like I’m stuck in the system, runaway slave child
My lifestyle straight out the gang files
Can’t drank, insane, bunny rabbit five game
Rest in peace Big Lord, he took a thigh shot in the main vein
B—-, I rap for fun and sell that coca leaf to maintain
N—-s gettin’ a check off of that Meth, I made a lane change
Walter White, walk the wheat
Cookin’ up that Jesse Pink
N—-s’ll open up they mouth to talk some sh–
But they don’t often eat
Me and my comrades is well fed
Sincerely yours, unfadeable Fred”
Tell me a modern rapper that could muster up this type of street commentary while being equally poetic. Gibbs shines all over “Fetti,” and Curren$y raises his game tremendously. He proves able to compete in the same playing field as his counterpart, the rap equivalent of the Incredible Hulk. The Alchemist acts as an utter mastermind behind their voices by creating vivid instrumentals for every single song.
Collaborative albums are becoming more popular in the genre than ever before, and “Fetti” should be set as the standard for how to execute a top-tier, modern-day joint rap project.