This seven-song EP marks the commercial debut or Gibbs, former Interscope artist (dropped before he released anything) and Gary, Indiana, resident, and the latest MC to make a name off mix tapes. He’s also the latest to charge for a product that’s slightly inferior to the stuff he’s been giving away for free. The short length guarantees opener “Str8 Killa No Filla” isn’t lying — every track would be a call-the-station standout on the Beat — but with the exception of a couple of songs, Str8 Killa also means unadulterated gangsta, unfortunately not nuanced by the sort of emotional and intellectual introspection that made midwestgangstaboxframecadillacmuzik special. “It sounds funny, but I hope this rap shit saves me, dog,” Gibbs confesses in the spoken intro to “Rep 2 tha Fullest,” before launching into the old “kids, don’t emulate me, but my violent life is fucking awesome” routine, and “National Anthem (Fuck the World)” trades a little too heavily on those Tupac comparisons, but his muscular precision flow comes closer to earning them than any artist in recent recollection. Closer “Oil Money” reverts to making thug life sound like a nonstop bong-and-blowjob party, but “Live by the Game” betrays fears and a complicated conscience, and “Rock Bottom” explore the society-imposed hopelessness and dead-end mentality that lead to that bad-ass life of crime you impressionable youngsters must never, ever turn to.
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