A Biting Calm | “Black Illuminati” by Freddie Gibbs (feat. Jadakiss)


Mike Merucci, Writer/Volunteer

Eyes closed and headphones on — Freddie Gibbs and Jadakiss’s “Black Illuminati” is a below-zero wind surging through the desert past midnight, slashing your neck with sand and loose stones, forcing your entire being to shiver. This song is COLD. 

The instrumental is perfectly suited for Freddie — the venom in his words is much deadlier on a dark, spacey beat like this. That venom forces a snarl onto your face and rocks your head with the rhythm; resisting the urge to drop some “phews” is almost pointless. What we’ve been given are some of the best verses of the year. 

And just after Freddie’s done branding his words at the top of 2021’s musical pyramid, Jadakiss enters with a guest verse that is also one of the best of the year. He slides on the beat with ease, rhyming with that iconic, heavy-handed gravel in his voice — together with Freddie, he builds a monument from the dust of all the bones they’ve eroded with that aforementioned late-night wind. The delayed “motherfucker” at the end of his verse places a damn crown on it all. It’s pure mastery within these stanzas, some of the prime emcees of the past 20 years sitting up straighter than ever in their thrones.

The hype for Freddie Gibbs’s upcoming album SSS has only grown. Confirmed producers include DJ Paul, Pharrell, Madlib and Alchemist, and “Black Illuminati” proves that Gibbs is still at the top of his game or higher up than ever before. He said “this might be one of my last rap albums” in an interview with Revolt and — not to jinx anything — but this might end up being one of his best.