I’ve had my eye on Giftz since he ensnared me last year with a tune he cut with Tree called “Nino“; the east side MC somersaults over Tree’s wobbly, hook-heavy beat like an Olympic racer, doling out lines about selling soap to junkies and chopping bricks with an assured grace and speed. Giftz has an intuitive grasp of language—according to Bradley Troast’s lengthy Fake Shore Drive feature on Giftz from late last year, the rapper began speaking in short sentences at eight months old—and can rhyme at a furious pace, so I knew I’d have to take my time listening to his Position of Power mixtape, which came out yesterday. With Giftz’s skills and a strong roster of contributors (Freddie Gibbs, King Louie, Rockie Fresh, Lil Herb, YP, C-Sick, Thelonious Martin, Lokey) I figured I’d spend a lot of time with the mixtape anyway.
I got my hands on Position of Power a couple days early and after several listens I started to find myself hovering over songs, pressing the pause button, moving the iTunes track progress bar back a notch, and replaying a short sequence several times over to really live in a verse and turn it around in my head. There are plenty of lines off Position of Power that hit with immediacy the first time around, but right now I’m focused on “For You.” It’s the sixteenth song in a mixtape that runs a little more than an hour long, so it took me a few listens through for this tune to hook me, but at the moment it’s got my favorite line in the mixtape: “Never speak emotions / Write them down in every song.”
It’s one of many deeply personal lines Giftz makes in the tune, and it might not appear to carry quite as much weight next to the ones where he makes a promise to his mother to one day get a college degree and tells his brother Kyle how meaningful their time together is even though Kyle can’t speak (as Troast wrote in that profile, Kyle has cerebral palsy). Giftz gets sentimental on “For You,” and his lyric about concealing his emotions actually bolsters his commitment to sharing all his feelings in his music, be it a tender thought or an introspective comment on his shortcomings. Or, more often than not, the struggle of drug dealing. There are certainly some folks who have a difficult time seeing past the crack and coke in street rap, but Giftz puts so much heart into Position of Power that it’s easy to hear a well of complex feelings as he raps; Giftz doesn’t even need to speak about his emotions in order to convey them in his songs.