Gangsta rap’s great Midwest hope, Freddie Gibbs destroyed the mixtape scene with releases like The Miseducation of Freddie Gibbs and The Labels Tryin’ to Kill Me, the latter’s title being typical of his attitude toward the traditional music business. Since he earned his fanatical following through untraditional channels like the underground circuit and the Internet, it shouldn’t be a surprise that his first aboveground release is not a grand entrance but more a taster for what the bootleg-wary standard CD buyer has been missing. There are only eight cuts here, six of which can be found on the underground album Str8 Killa, which in sabotage style was released only days before this EP. Of course, Gibbs' big trick is setting up all these career-stopping obstacles and then knocking them down with the quality of his work. Str8 Killa fits right in with the plan as Gibbs turns the clock back to when thug poetry was king and unapologetic attitudes ruled the roost. Ask him what he wants and he’ll answer “Custom Air Jordans, cabinet slamnin’ on chrome rims/Bitches who pack straps in their bag” in a rapid-fire manner that would make Twista jealous, and that’s right before he declares “Rap is for divas.” The man is full of contradictions and lyrics that demand deciphering, so Str8 Killa becomes an excellent entry point, maybe by default and maybe by design. Either way, it’s a necessary purchase for gangsta rap fans and a gateway drug that will send you straight to the mixtape underground.
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AllMusic Review by David Jeffries