From 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.
During the past few years, Gibbs has managed to generate a substantial following, working with some of the best in the industry, all the while not having his crucial landmark release. Bottom line, this is it. With a gangster’s psyche, the rapid-fire delivery of an automatic weapon, and a chip on his shoulder, Freddie Gibbs is reviving the spirit of the gangster rapper with a conscience. Some thought it’d be a Cold Day in Hell before we’d see that again. Bundle up. —Neil Martinez-Belkin