Co-signs carry a lot of weight for an underdog. Lil Bibby received the honor of a Drake shout-out for his music, which helped bolster his career and thrust him into the spotlight. In April, Drake and Project Pat were rumored to appear on a remix to Bibby and Lil Herb’s “My Hood,” building even more momentum for the duo without a major label deal. Bibby would go on to make solid songs (“Water” and “How We Move” featuring King L) that broke out on regional airwaves and gave him a proper foundation for his solo debut, Free Crack. Chief Keef blew up locally before pushing his way into the mainstream, and Bibby is the next Chicago rapper expected to follow a similar trajectory. 2014 could very well be his year.
With a menace and edge that’s indicative of gangster rap, Bibby takes listeners through a tour of his hood and its activities on Free Crack. The 19-year-old MC opens up with a sample of Lord Tariq & Peter Gunz’s “Déjà vu (Uptown Baby),” in which he establishes himself as both “a true rap god and a true king.” It’s a bold statement that means the latest storyteller to document Chiraq means business. “Changes” opens up with a verse about sticking to the street life: “Lil Bibby, he the man can’t touch him / Lotta guns, lotta hoes they bustin’ / With the squad over East throwin’ Es up /Got some killas in the Wic throwin’ threes up.” Bibby tosses out real-life anecdotes with ease, sounding technically poised and fully aware that his hood tales want to be heard. Similar talk is displayed on “Raised Up,” where Bibby reminisces on growing up in the Eastside block and hustling for fast cash.
Bibby’s abrasive personality dominates the tape, but there are songs showing his introspective side that deserve just as much recognition. On the chipmunk-soul sample “Unlike You,” Bibby declares that “this is not no drill shit, only speak what I live bitch” and delivers more ice-cold lines about coming up quick to survive. Another display of his grind is in the Olympicks-produced “See Me Down,” where he adopts a melodic flow for his motivational hook that’s effective: “Niggas want to see me down, I gotta keep on going / I know niggas want to see me down, but I can’t stop for nothing now / I be going through some things, I smile and I don’t show it / I can’t let my family down, I gotta keep on going.”
Despite Bibby proving he can play rap ball with his peers, it’s hard to ignore that his music does in fact fall into the drill scene category. Thanks to producers Young Chop and Don Robb, Gangbangin’ Bibby gets the right sonic backdrops to serve up songs about drugs, violence and money. “Ballin’” falls short for its lackadaisical bars, while “When The Money Comes” is redundant save for his raw delivery. Still, Bibby has the capabilities of separating himself from the pack like in the Hit-Boy & Rey Reel anthem “Whole Crew.”
Free Crack is meant to introduce Bibby as the rapper out of new Chicago who’s got next. He’s got a voice beyond his years, but Bibby’s still in the beginning stages of his career and pushing a product right now that isn’t stale. Before he’s launched into the forefront of talent that shouldn’t be slept on, the fresh-faced Chicagoan has packaged enough material to give rap fans a sample of his audio dope.—Eric Diep