Who: Freddie Gibbs, a 28-year-old drug-dealer-turned-rapper from Gary, Indiana.
Why he matters: Gibbs is carrying the torch for '90s gangsta rap. With his buzz-worthy mix-tapes and debut EP, the Str8 Killa, Gibbs spits about 'hood life in his economically deprived hometown, including drugs, prostitution, and family strife. His first full-length, Baby-Faced Killa, featuring production from hip-hop heavyweights like Jim Jonsin, Hi-Tek, and Ski Beatz, is expected this year.
SPIN Music Editor Charles Aaron says: "Technically, he's just dead-on. He has such a great deep tone to his voice, and the effortless flows; he's got that perfect gangsta-rap mix of sounding kinda laidback but clearly on a knife's edge. And his worldview is so colddude does just not give a shit what anybody thinks he should be doing. He's on his own path."
File next to: Twista, UGK, Young Buck.
Where to start: "Live By the Game" (listen below), a catchy tale of a character who puts his dreams on hold to sell dope on the corner, while hoping "baby brother don't follow my footsteps."
Fun fact: Gibbs formed a yet-to-be-named supergroup with Bun B, Cool Kids' Chuck Inglish, and Chip Tha Ripper, which is in the studio recording its debut album.
LISTEN: Freddie Gibbs, "Live By The Game"