For the spring 2017 issue of XXL Magazine, Freddie Gibbs sat down with writer Emmanuel Madualokam to discuss his turbulent 2016, which found the veteran rapper facing sexual assault charges in Vienna, Austria, that could have put him behind bars for up to 10 years.
Gibbs, who denied having any physical interaction with either of his accusers, was ultimately acquitted of the sexual assault charges last September after video evidence supported his alibi for the night in question, but his year-plus journey was nonetheless a roller coaster ride from Hell. On top of 37 days spent behind bars, Gibbs spent 90 days in limbo between two foreign countries, unable to return home to the United States and away from his infant daughter and fiancée.
The entirety of the XXL feature is eye-opening, especially when Gibbs describes the way he was treated in Toulouse, France, following his initial arrest ("Those French policemen are some bitch-ass niggas. They were trying to make a nigga rap and shit like that, rap and get food."), but the Gary, Indiana native saved his most powerful quote for the very end of the interview.
When Madualokam asked Gibbs how the entire ordeal has affected his business, the rapper offered a wide-ranging response that both openly and honestly answered his question and serves as a complete and justified indictment of the hip-hop community largely accepting young rappers who are tied to sexual assault allegations.
I’d be lying if I said it didn’t hit me financially. It was a huge hit. I had 11 lawyers; you can do the math on that alone. [Laughs] I missed numerous amounts of shows and appearances and who knows what other opportunities. I felt like a lot of people were like, “Let’s see what happens with this shit before we stand by Freddie.” You had people that supported me that knew me and knew I didn’t do this shit. And, you had people who didn’t really know and they were scared to touch me. Even with all the evidence out there, everyone isn’t going to read the whole article, everybody isn’t going to read all the facts. All you have to do is put rape next to somebody’s name and it’s done. It affects everybody differently and it created a scar on my name that I had to patch up. Like I said, it’s young rappers with shit like that on their name and they don’t give a fuck and the hip-hop world don’t give a fuck, but not me. I got a daughter, I have nieces, I have sisters, I have a mother.
During the 14-month period that Gibbs spent fighting a bogus sexual assault charge, rappers XXXtentacion and Kodak Black began their controversial rise to fame in the face of rape allegations. XXXtentacion was recently released from prison in Florida after agreeing to serve six years probation after he received a "withheld conviction" on charges of home invasion and battery with a firearm, but still faces charges of aggravated battery of a pregnant woman, domestic battery by strangulation, and false imprisonment, among others, to which he pled not guilty this past December and has been out on bail. Meanwhile, Kodak Black, who was released from prison in late 2016, is once again behind bars after being found guilty of violating his probation. He was on house arrest as a result of multiple sexual assault charges in two different states.
When Freddie Gibbs says, "young rappers with shit like that on their name and they don’t give a fuck and the hip-hop world don’t give a fuck," he's right. While Gibbs was in the fight of his life overseas, sitting in a jail cell in the same block as people serving time for rape convictions and facing a decade behind bars for a crime he didn't commit, a handful of young, new generation rappers facing similar charges were being championed by a legion of followers.
When Freddie says, "All you have to do is put rape next to somebody’s name and it’s done," he's right, but in contradicting himself later in his answer, he actually proves that, at least in hip-hop, a rape accusation is actually not the be-all-end-all. While hip-hop has a history of double standards, the acceptance of rape culture is dangerous and should not be tolerated. Not that we needed yet another reminder.