In a time of growing popularity of trap music we got two great examples of trap tales that greatly differ from each other. Freddie Gibbs and A$AP Ferg each dropped their debut studio albums earlier this summer just a month apart.
Comparing Freddie Gibbs’ ESGN and A$AP Ferg’s Trap Lord
Gangsta Gibbs‘ offering comes after a split from Young Jeezy’s CTE label, whereas A$AP Ferg’s album is a result of his recent label deal with Polo Grounds/RCA. Their current label situations seem to reflect the tone of many of their tracks. Trap Lord was originally created as a mixtape before becoming Ferg’s label debut. ESGN also has a mixtape feel with its 20 tracks totaling well over an hour.
Each project has its fair share of features, some adding to it and some lacking compared to its title artists. A$AP Ferg feeds off of his surrounding peers in A$AP Mob while Gangsta Gibbs is more of a solo flyer. Freddie’s features aid in breaking up the flow and adding some lyrical content, contrasting with Ferg’s features which complement his ability and broaden the album’s appeal.
Ferg enlists the help of A$AP Rocky, French Montana, Trinidad James and TDE’s Schoolboy Q, as well as rap heavy-weights like Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Cypress Hill’s B-Real, Onyx and A$ton Matthews. Freddie Gibbs’ headliners include BJ the Chicago Kid, G.I. Fleezy, G-Wiz, TDE’s Jay Rock, Problem, Spice 1, and Daz Dillinger.
Skrewface paints a vivid picture with lines like “Hundred Thousand dollars’ worth of cocaine/make it stain, slangin thangs, knee-deep in the dope game/police in my rear view cuz they think im servin white/and they probably right/if they hit them lights you know im swerving right” on “Hundred Thousand.”
A$AP Ferg portrays characters and alter egos which can be quite entertaining, but lacks authenticity. Freddie Gibbs introduces us to his authentic self through his songs, but his periodic lack of emotion and introspection about his life and choices obscures the powerful internal narrative that could emerge otherwise. Both artists rap about hustling drugs but for Freddie it seems like less of an angle and more of his true story. He makes it clear that he is changing neither his sound, nor his lifestyle to peddle albums.
When he dares to explore the implicit contradictions of the hustler’s life on “Freddie Soprano,” there are intriguing moments. He describes the drug addiction and overdoses enveloping the hip-hop game. “The Real G Money” also broods, with Gibbs worrying for his children’s future and thinking back, “In the 8th grade I was selling 8-balls off that pager.”
On “Cocaine Castle,” Ferg uses a crack house setting to warn listeners about the dangers of drug use, but has trouble connecting with the tale personally and raps meekly, “tripping off this weed got a n**ga slow motion, chills all over my body like some cold lotion.”
But Ferg boasts two of the hottest songs of summer 2013 with “Shabba” and “Work.” Where the A$AP soldier’s singles are catchy and entertaining, Gibbs’s single “The Color Purple” gained some notoriety, but hardly made a splash in the mainstream. At times, Gibbs may suffer from his seriousness in a way that doesn’t seem to restrict his trappin’ counterpart.
Though each artist displays skillful use of lyrics and flow, their sounds greatly differ. Ferg’s lighter lyrics entertain; Freddie is straight to the point. On “Murda Something,” Ferg boasts “Ain’t afraid to murda something/put ‘em in a hearse or something, I’m thinking you niggas is sweet/like a Starburst or something/get ‘em a purse or something/might get ‘em in church or something/we heard the deacon speaking/I’m Donnie McClurkin frontin/I smell p**sy, them niggas hurt your cousin/all my people say ‘Stomp!’ like I’m Kurt or something/put ‘em in the dirt like ‘Work’ or something.” Freddie takes a more direct approach on “9mm” explaining, “listen to my 9 millimeter go bang/n**gas hustle, n**gas murder for this dope and cocaine.”
Trap Lord is the better choice for rap fans looking for catchy tracks and variety of production, whereas ESGN will surely suit fans of 90s-style hip-hop looking for technical ability.