DMMC: A music writer for The New Yorker praised you for your original beats, pointing out that most rappers use other artists’ well-known beats. Why do you go to the extra trouble?
FG: I kind of like setting the tone, even though people don’t give me the credit for it. Instead of just mixtapes, instead of just rocking on everybody’s beats, I kinda like made a free album on the Internet. It’s not like these labels; they put out a mixtape—“We put this and this behind it”—and it looks so official, looks like you dropped an album. Like I said, I think that I kind of started that format. I just wanted to be different from everybody else. You can’t conform; you gotta compete for the times. I’m definitely always into doing things my own way.


2. You’ve said that a lot of people in your hometown of Gary, Indiana, feel that Michael Jackson didn’t go back there enough. What do you plan to do differently and why do you feel it matters?

I just think you gotta be involved in the community, give people hope, give ‘em something to root for and not detach yourself like the Jacksons did, not giving them anything to root for. People ask people from Gary about the Jacksons all the time, and we say, “You know just as much as anyone else because they’re not involved in our community.” They’re so big—they’re bigger than Gary, bigger than life. But for someone that big, I don’t know…I don’t think they really embraced the hometown, come back and give anybody anything. Their presence alone in the community would make the community turn for the better. I can’t blame them for not wanting to be in Gary. It’s a scary place, a scary fuckin’ place…you can get killed, I understand that.


3. What other goals do you have as an artist?
Be rich like Jay-Z. Nah, I’m just kiddin’, I just want to maintain my level of respect through my whole career. If I maintain my level of respect and consistency, I’ll be fine with that. It’s what’s pushing me to go harder every day.


4. Whose respect matters most?
Myself. Me, looking at me in the mirror in the morning. If you can’t look at yourself in mirror in morning, you lost the game, you lost at life.


5. Looking shorter term, what do you hope you’ll experience at 80/35?
Hopefully, a bunch of college girls from Iowa. No I’m joking. For the most part. Me, being able to get out there in that atmosphere. I’ve never been there, I’m grateful I was selected; your town hasn’t had me. In a festival atmosphere—it doesn’t get no better than that. It’s gonna be something beautiful.


You can see Freddie Gibbs on Friday, July 6, at 8:15 p.m. on the Kum & Go Stage.


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