Review : Freddie Gibbs - Cold Day in Hell
PitchforkFreddie Gibbs' latest mixtape, Cold Day in Hell, leaked during a 48-hour-period in which new hip-hop tapes were dropping every five minutes. More than a few of these artists were capitalizing off the hype that surrounded A$AP Rocky's debut record LiveLoveA$AP, a release the internet noise machine took up as its latest cause. Freddie Gibbs may remember that honeymoon period well; a couple of years back, he was the focus of this ruthless media blitz, an artist who rocketed suddenly from major-label reject to being mentioned in The New Yorker. It was an odd position for a rapper whose persona often felt like a simple amalgamation of 1990s Rap-A-Lot records. One of the unfortunate things about this hype cycle is its obsession with novelty at the expense of quality; Gibbs isn't a new artist any more, but Cold Day in Hell is arguably his most well-rounded, accomplished offering. It isn't that he's improved as a rapper, but as an artist. He has recognized his weaknesses and produced a lush, versatile record that works around them.
Gibbs, as a performer, has always been a skilled technician, but in the backlash that followed his early acclaim, some pointed out that his rapping could be dry and impersonal. In impressing folks caught up in the theatrical onslaught of his driving delivery, it was easy for fans to miss the big picture. At his weakest, he is a technician first and a conversationalist second. For his core fanbase, this is the appeal: gangster rap with brutality and self-control the primary goal. These shortcomings become evident, though, when you compare Gibbs to a rapper like Young Jeezy, whose economy, directness, and charisma burst through the speakers on a track like "Twos and Fews". But what Gibbs has accomplished on Cold Day in Hell is a challenge to the reliable audience that would prefer him in autopilot mode, and it actually gives his music a lot more replay value. As on his strongest releases, he uses a variety of strategies that value musicality above all....full text
HiphopdxUnlike so many of his peers, Freddie Gibbs has proven that he doesn't need anybody's help to succeed. The Gary, Indiana emcee has found more acclaim on free projects like 2009's two-piece The Miseducation of Freddie Gibbs and midwestgangstaboxframecadillacmuzik than he has with more recent retail experiments like the feature-heavy Str8 Killa EP and 24-hour-sketch Lord Giveth, Lord Taketh Away with Statik Selektah. Now with a CTE deal, Young Jeezy's profile player brushes off his original blueprint, and waxes O.G. wisdom under the age of 30. Cold Day In Hell is an assuring reminder than Freddie Gibbs' inspirations might bare rust, but this emcee is oiled and polished for the big stage.
"Barely M.A.D.E." is a great opener to show where exactly Freddie Gibbs' head is at for Cold Day In Hell. Here the emcee recalls his early-twenties Midwest hustling exploits with proclamations like, "Baptized in a lake of fire, so this how hell feels." The fearless rapper uses this opportunity to show the listener that his starving years are still his motivation, as his convictions to succeed won't buck towards trends or easy-ends. The same end of life imagery carries through to "Heaven Can Wait." Freddie looks at how he would spend his last day on earth, comparing the hypothetical chain of events with a first day out of incarceration. That same criminology inspires "Rob Me A Nigga," with Alley Boy. This unveils the mind-state of a premeditated robbery, with tongue-in-cheek explanation of the violent sociology found in streets like Gary, with longtime associates seeing past commonalities in pursuit of paper and power.
Like Str8 Killa, Gibbs uses some minor musical experiments to signify stamps in his growing career passport. "Menace II Society" with Dom Kennedy and Polyester, chronicles Freddie's assimilation in West Coast life, with a common interest in women and weed, yet still refusing to tuck chains or tail in a land of colors and fierce territoriality. "Let Ya Nuts Hang," with CTE label-mate Scrilla, cements Gibbs' fit in the Trap Muzik sound. "Doin' wrong is my rite of passage," declares Gibbs as he makes a song about taking ownership of a block, and surrounding defenders at all entrances and exits for pole position. Arkatech Beatz supplies a track that has the Jeezy/T.I. sound, as Gibbs' Midwestern flow does adapt, but takes the synth-driven track by force. The actual Jeezy-assisted track, "Twos and Fews" is one of several recent collaborations between CTE founder and star signee, but the mainstream chorus and the vesres make for one of the less interesting moments on Cold Day In Hell, despite the fanfare. "Str8 Slammin'" with Three 6 Mafia's Juicy J is a more organic pairing with a platinum star, with a SMKA beat that truly sounds Hypnotized. The message might be limited to debauchery and survival, but its presentation is so convincing that the engaging listen rarely wavers....full text
XxlmagFrom the destitute blocks of Gary, Indiana, to a failed record deal at Interscope, to finding a home at CTE under Young Jeezy, Freddie Gibbs has been building a reputation as one of the most ferocious rappers around. On Halloween, Gibbs released his latest mixtape, Cold Day in Hell. Parents, take note and keep the kids indoors—Gangsta Gibbs is back on these streets.
The Big K.R.I.T-produced “Rob Me a Nigga” takes us inside the mind of a plotting Gibbs, as he preps the stick up of a former friend and associate from the driver’s seat of his Chevy Caprice. The gritty tale suggests more than your usual rap macho posturing; instead, it’s a peak into the thought processes of someone driven to the edge, rapping, “When your stomach’s empty it’s easy to understand it. Got me out here taking these penitentiary chances.”
Gangsta Gibbs’s knack for telling a story is displayed again on the Sade sampling “My Homeboy’s Girlfriend,” an ominous narrative detailing an affair with the girlfriend of an incarcerated pal. Again, instead of the typical “I’m fucking your girlfriend,” rap boastfulness, Gibbs’s mindset is one of fear and plagued by guilt as the affair spirals out of control before him, eventually resulting in a murder suicide. But whether it’s criminal violence or questions of morality amongst friends, the former Freshman’s song-actions are never mindless but rather the deeds of someone aware of the risks and the social ramifications of his own behavior. Hence, when he says something, you believe him.
Another forte of this project is the strong showings of the featured artists. While his guests may not switch in and out of double flow as seamlessly as the Midwest native, everyone involved puts forth their best effort. Gibbs puts himself in good company with Young Jeezy (“Twos and Fews”) and 2 Chainz (“Neighborhood Hoez”) on their respective collaborations....full text
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