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Freddie Gibbs

CITY: Indiana

CITY: Gary
SONGS THAT GOT US: “Personal OG,” “Born 2 Roll”

WHY THEM? Freddie Gibbs’s music — hard-driving downtrodden tales of rough times — is tough and resilient, much like the man himself. He scraped his way through an adolescence on the mean streets of Gary, only to be seduced by the gold-plated limo of an Interscope deal . . . and be dumped soon afterward. It’s the next chapter that is the most interesting, however, as Gibbs licked his wounds by biting back harder with a series of mixtapes that have put him on the map for good. For Gibbs, rap isn’t a means to show off status and celebrity, but rather to spotlight the struggle: whether it’s the artistic struggle to create and thrive in tough times, or the struggle of the urban poor that he articulates so precisely in his jaw-dropping über-precise rhyming style.

BONUS BIT! Gibbs may have been dropped by Interscope and forced to go the mixtape route — but at least he didn’t leave Interscope entirely empty-handed, since his are probably the only mixtapes around to feature beats from top-dollar producers like Just Blaze and Polow da Don.