One of the more unique aspects of hip-hop is that, in its modern commercial format, there’s a gap between producers and rappers. There are the outliers that make their own beats, build songs from the ground up with a band, or do something else during the creative process. But, in many cases, beats are given to (or, more often, purchased by) rappers and it’s up to them to provide the words, flow and hook.
Part of what makes mixtapes so appealing is that it allows the chance to hear how a certain rapper would’ve crafted a song if he were given a particular beat rather than the rapper that initially made that track famous. In the era of Mixtape Weezy, for instance, we got to hear the prolific Lil Wayne rework classic rap beats as well as more recent hits into his own creations (sometimes for better, sometimes for worse).
It’s rare that an artist will randomly pluck a song from the depths of hip-hop’s collective discography and record over it then release it for free as a standalone track. Freddie Gibbs isn’t normal. That’s exactly what the L.A.-via-Gary, IN rapper did with Jay-Z’s track “Where Have You Been.” It’s the second time the rapper’s reworked that particular track. The first was on his mixtape Cold Day In Hell, and it featured Slick Pulla from Atlanta.
The original song was featured on Hova’s 2000 album The Dynasty: Roc La Familia. It features a guest verse from Beanie Sigel and some emotionally-charged lyrics about the two rappers’ troubled upbringings.
Gibbs’ version is much more lighthearted, and it features guest vocals from Sasha Go Hard. Gibbs transforms Jay-Z’s track to a strange sort of street love song, and he and Sasha Go Hard work well together on top of the beat. This version by no means surpasses the original track, but it’s always great to hear new music from Gangsta Gibbs. Check out the song below.