Freddie Gibbs Credit: Brad Barket

On the brand-new You Only Live 2wice (Empire/ESGN) rapper Freddie Gibbs, who made his name as a resident of nearby Gary before settling in LA, takes his biggest departure yet from his gangsta-rap roots—though he’s far from going soft. Packaged with this year’s best LP cover—featuring a halo-fitted Gibbs in Jesus garb levitating above a posse of cops, strippers, and “disciples” documenting the scene on their iPhones—are eight excellent tracks of psychedelic and soulful hip-hop, with beats that flow more than snap. Gibbs’s approach on You Only Live 2wice is a bit different from his past work: he finds a new sense of humility and humbleness, making the tracks deep, personal, and extraheavy and heady. Still, it’s his vocal delivery that will always be his greatest weapon—each word explodes like a bomb going off, his voice powerful and mean, his rhymes rapid-fire and unstoppable.   v