Our recurring new music feature Rap Song of the Week breaks down the hip-hop tracks you need to hear at the end of every week. Check out the full playlist here. This week, Freddie Gibbs reunites with Jadakiss on “Black Illuminati.”
When Freddie Gibbs and Jadakiss last collaborated on Gibbs’ star-studded Baby Face Killa mixtape nine years ago, the Gary, Indiana rapper was about to exit his ill-fated deal with Young Jeezy’s CTE label. Given all the talent he’d displayed up to that point, it’s no surprise that Gibbs went on to become one of the most successful independent artists in the game, earning enough gravitas to ink his own partnership deals with major labels.
After notching a Grammy nomination for Alfredo, Gibbs is mashing the gas pedal even harder for his follow-up, which he’s pumped up as the best-produced album of his career — bold words after recording entire projects with Madlib and The Alchemist. The quiet storm beat for “Black Illuminati” isn’t flashy by any means, but gives the pair of rappers plenty of space to dole out advice from their decades of experience.
Gibbs also lets it be known he hasn’t forgotten how people once wanted to count him out: “Shame how they blackball Kane, they scratched my name out/ I pushed it longer than I expected to get my name hot.” For most of his verse, Jada is content to brag about being in the position to serve as a mentor, but he also has a reminder for people who have short memories after his Verzuz performance this summer. “Call him the god MC just like Rakim,” he raps, “and he done took some L’s, but yeah, he got wins.”
Whereas Jadakiss has settled into a role as an established veteran who sometimes has to remind fans of why he’s one of the best to ever do it, Gibbs keeps leveling up. Hopefully, it won’t be nine years until they step into the booth with each other again.