Published Oct 16, 2015L.A.-based rapper Freddie Gibbs was booked to play Ottawa on October 15, but he only took to the stage in the earliest hours of October 16. Every opener and promoter at Babylon Nightclub prodded showgoers to stay as loud as they could, and though the crowd's impatience tempered their excitement, every arm remained in the air and every voice remained at full volume when Gangsta Gibbs sauntered into view like a reigning champion boxer at 1 a.m.
The entirety of Babylon continued to chant "Freddie! Freddie!" even three songs in, which pierced Gibbs's hardened persona as he cracked a disarmed grin. "Y'all need a bigger venue up in here," he said, curious to know if Ottawa would get as turnt up as Toronto did the night before.
He indulged Piñata heads early in the set with "Thuggin'" and "Deeper," each of which he started spitting without instrumentals. His DJ was poised to drop beats, but let him enunciate as much as he wanted before bringing them in. He called "ES!" and received "GN!" back from the crowd as often as he delivered bars a cappella. The audience knew every word to his 2014 release, not to mention most of those from his previous albums and mixtapes.
He rapped "Shitsville" entirely without the song's frantic strings and crisp drums. Missing Madlib's soulful instrumentals didn't diminish the song; rather, it highlighted how skilful the gangsta rapper's wordplay has become over his six-year career. Gibbs' pen doesn't so much write as it does stab, and the dedicated crowd, who love his bloodied storylines, saw him leaves trails of red wherever he pointed his mic.
Before he could offer up new tracks that he was proud to present, he obliged the calls for "Pronto," delivering an extended version of the title track off this year's EP. Of his two new tracks, "Packages" seemed to push his flow in the direction he strives for most, as he gave a gritty and flowing delivery.
"Kush Kloud," off his 2012 Baby Face Killa, relit the energy in the crowd near the end, as he pandered to the common love of THC. The drug that ran highest last night, however, seemed to be adrenaline, still coursing through bloodstreams an hour after the show, when Gibbs went to his merch table to greet fans.
Though he hadn't reached the energy levels that necessitated the typical removal of his shirt, it was a good show that proved Gibbs has still got it.