In 2009, rapper Freddie Gibbs set out to be the Midwest’s unofficial street poet, releasing a series of mixtapes that were as complex as they were thuggish. Influenced by the likes of 2Pac, Biggie, UGK, and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Gibbs filled his lyrics with honest and compelling stories of his hometown’s demise. In early 2009 he released the Miseducation of Freddie Gibbs mixtape to critical and message board acclaim. Late in the year he released the 81-song mixtape The Labels Tryin' to Kill Me. A 21st century, Internet-age hip-hop star, able to draw press and earn a loyal following via downloads and mixtapes instead of the usual industry channels, he finished 2009 proudly unsigned. ~ David Jeffries
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