You'll hear the phrase "Rob me a n---a" 25 times just as you're walking into Cold Day in Hell. "Rob Me a N---a." And that's just before the first verse hits. The dude Gibbs is planning to stick up and—depending on how bad things go—murder? He's an old friend.
Welcome to the world of Gangsta Gibbs.
Throughout Cold Day in Hell, Gibbs recounts his street days, cheats on his girl with his homeboy's girlfriend, and casts aspersions on the competition in ways that make you pay attention. His rugged rhymes recall Big Daddy Kane and Ice Cube if Cube was a UGK disciple.
Now that Gibbs has signed a major deal with Young Jeezy's CTE, it's natural to expect some compromise. Cold Day doesn't offer any. Gibbs is still as raw as ever, desperate to prove that he's not eager to subject to the major label polish. Backed by mid-tempo creepers that buttress his midwest-flavored flow, Gibbs sound as compelling as ever on Cold Day in Hell. He captures the streets in ways few are capable. Cold. Inimical. Steady. Lean. Authentic.
Not all of it is headphone music. "187 Proof" will have your trunk waving. The humorless "Let Ya Nuts Hang" will put a dent in your speaker.
On the music side, Cold Day in Hell splits the difference between synths and 808s. The songs roll in at a steady pace, packing trunk-rattling production throughout. Some of the beats are Xerox copies, occasionally resulting in a monochromatic listening session, but his vibrant moments outnumber the stale ones. When he talks about serving dope to his homeboy's sister on "Anything to Survive" (as opposed to screwing another's wifey), his storytelling excels. "It's like we feed each other's addiction," he laments, adding "Living offa killing my own."
Gibbs is a rap maverick who always does things his own way. But as his rep grows, his music has been attracting more features. Like Str8 Killa, Cold Day in Hell is guest-heavy. Freeway spits one of his best 16s on "Anything to Survive" and Dom Kennedy assists on the G-funk-inspired "Menace II Society."
Elsewhere on "Two and a Fews," Gibbs' new boss Young Jeezy turns in a strong performance. "It's the world, muhf--ka, next the universe," Jeezy says, reassuring Gibbs that his future is bright and his bank account is about to get fatter. Gibbs is unfazed by the shiny things: "F--k your wallet, pistol charges, man I got like two of those."
There's a solitary feel throughout Cold Day. Gibbs always seems to exist in his own head. He sees no way out of the struggle and that dead-end eye-view of the world blinds his ambition. The music is all the more authentic for it.
Often lumped with the new crop of emcees when discussed on message boards, Gibbs is like no other. He's far less willing to compromise and definitely closer to old school emcees that peddled hardcore rhymes. Cold Day isn't groundbreaking but it offers more clue as to just exactly what a Gibbs album would sound like. Rejoice in this: Freddie Gibbs is the real deal.Cold, Cold Words:
"What you know about kidnapping and holding a whole n---a's family for ransom." ("Rob Me a N---a")
"I'm out here earning a living off off killing my own." ("Anything to Survive")
"I'll blow the roof off of this muthaf---a. I'm about to let 'em burn, burn muthaf---a, burn." ("Let 'EM Burn")
"You write this life down on paper but I live this sh-t everyday. I seen the pigs kill my dude in front of his family like some hoes." ("Let 'Em Burn")
"No work, no job, man a n---a can't even get insurance. How you supposed to take your babies for a doctor's visit?" ("Two and Fews")