Freddie Gibbs‘ journey to where he sits now in the music industry is incredibly telling. Hailing from Gary, Indiana, the rapper comes from an area that is among the most notorious in the nation for it’s levels of impoverishment, violence, and crime. Not surprisingly, his lyrical content is often fueled by tales of pimping, crack dealing, and murder. Such subject matter clearly isn’t revolutionary for the rap game, but his level of sincerity and his approach to how he delivers it is something that has become increasingly rare. Folded into “Gangsta” Gibbs‘ tales of street life are various reflections about topics as intimate as the death of his grandmother to the miscarriage of his child. It’s this directness that really makes the listener feel like they can trust what is being relayed in the tracks. Whether that means that you believe that he’s experienced what he’s detailing or simply believe that he Freddie will honestly kill your ass if you cross him, there’s an authenticity to his words, as well as with his delivery. There’s an ability to verbally paint landscapes in a very matter of fact style that neither glamorizes or rejects the environments created. It’s a quality that greats like Tupac used to possess; a feeling that the artist has become a rapper only because they have something to get out and needed a forum, not that they are simply trying to come up with something to say, because they were infatuated with the idea of becoming a rapper. And the rising rap star definitely has plenty to say, as evidenced by the endless material that seems to pour out of him (including one full 81-track mixtape). With one mixtape after the other, Gibbs has stayed true to his motto of “Str8 killa No filla“, by continuously maintaining a high level of quality throughout the ridiculously prolific amount of material that he’s released in such a short time. Making most of his work available for free download, Gibbs appears to be in no danger of running out of new material , displaying more than a minor amount of confidence about his staying power or his willingness to continuously move forward. Now, with his latest 16-track (17 w/bonus song) mix-tap, Cold Day in Hell, Freddie doesn’t miss a beat, providing another stack of grimy cinematic, gangster rap joints, absolutely free of charge.
Kicked out of Ball State (losing his football scholarship) and, subsequently, being discharged from the military, Freddie was already quite familiar with rejection and disappointment by the time that he was dropped from his Interscope records deal. Unfortunately, skill doesn’t account for much in the music industry and this is especially true with rap and hip-hop. If anything, it’s considered secondary to the ability to mold and market an artist. Gangsta Gibbs was a less than ideal candidate for such superstar grooming and, even after being released from his contract, he never bothered to conform or redirect his path into a more consumer friendly direction. Being disillusioned with the current state of the rap industry -as many of us are- the Gary native took his cues from influences like Getto Boys, UGK, and Three 6 Mafia, while calling out those who he believes are building their careers off of fabricated imagery. This is one of the most, if not the most, refreshing aspects about Freddie Gibbs‘ approach to the industry; he cares enough about it to be disgusted by what it’s became and to openly voice his opinion regarding those who he believe are plaguing it. For those of us who have wanted so badly to have a voice loud enough to express our own distaste for such topics as the directions that the industry has migrated into (some of us may have event started websites to fill that need), it’s nice to see Freddie Gibbs calling everyone out to their faces. COLD DAY HELL contains plenty more in the way of that sort of confrontational content.
One of the rapper’s primary marks has been Rick “The Boss” Ross (aka: William Leonard Roberts II), a confirmed (and previously denied) former-corrections officer who’s career is based around and rests primarily on his persona as a drug dealing kingpin. Recently signed to Young Jeezy‘s CTE imprint, Gangsta Gibbs continues to take shots at Ross‘ Maybach Music Group on COLD DAY IN HELL tracks like “187 Proof” with such lines as:
“187 ways to die, bitch, this the end,
6 niggas put 600 holes in yo 600 Benz“
“Ask Pill who the real, bet he mention (Gibbs),“
The second reference is obviously to MMG artist PILL, but the first one is directed at a track by WALE called “600 Benz“, which features label head, Rick Ross. Over the years, WALE was really beginning to build a name for himself as a quality lyricist with well-received mix-tapes and tracks like “Rhyme of the Century” but, since signing with MMG, he has pulled somewhat of a 180, adopting an image where he raps about money, cars, and other ridiculous surface level bullshit. It seems like the pattern is for rappers to get signed for their street cred and get paired with a club beat that overshadows the fact that they don’t really have any level of talent, whatsoever. If they do have a sufficient amount of lyrical ability, the other option is for them to accept a high profile deal in exchange for adopting a new persona, which provides them with hype and material goods, in exchange for them abandoning any and all credibility.
For me “187 Proof” is a good example of what Freddie Gibbs brings to the table for a few reasons. First of all, the song shares it’s title with a Spice 1 track and gives props to the music of Brotha Lynch. Neither of those artists are likely to ever be referenced on a mainsteram rap track. The lines, “2Pac ain’t back cuz he got set up and shot in the chest, Biggie ain’t either, so wont y’all gon let them niggas rest?” is a reminder that people really are still holding on to their images/memories as artists and, while still showing his affection for their work, Gibbs is instructing everyone to move on. The reason that anyone is still clinging to those artists and their work so desperately, in the first place, is because there’s very little music of that caliber to cling to today. I believe that Freddie Gibbs has hopes of returning that missing element to rap. Most of all, nobody else seems to have the balls to call everyone out like Gibbs manages to and, if they do, they definitely don’t have the ability to back it up. The title of the “187 Proof” itself is a solid play on words, for somebody that’s murder proof, whether it’s literal or simply from a lyrical standpoint. I can believe in this dude, because I actually believes in what he’s saying. If Freddie Gibbs represents anything to me, it’s about coming at shit hard without compromise and calling people out for weakening the idea of something that he believes in: rap as a legitimate artform.
“Cuz I’m 187 proof, streets or the fucking booth,
I speak a foreign language, I think y’all call that the truth,“
Last year’s track, “Oil Money” showed Gibbs working with one of his major influences, Bun B of UGK. Cold Day In Hell provides another such opportunity, this time with a collaboration with Three 6 Mafia‘s Juicy J on the song “Str8 Slammin’“. Even the opening number, “Barely M.A.D.E. It” begins with a nod to the Geto Boys classic, “Mind’s Playin’ Tricks on Me“. Other appearances are made by a list of rappers including Young Jeezy, Freeway, and Dom Kennedy, with production work provided by such talents as J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, Big K.R.I.T., Cardo, DJ Burn One, Block Beattaz, Beatnick & K-Salaam, etc. Cold Day in Hell is just another opportunity for the adventurous Freddie Gibbs to continue testing the waters and, beyond this project, he continues to go in any number of directions, experimenting with an endless number of collaborators, including producer’s like Hi-Tek. Whether you’re a fan of a particular hook or beat, or it’s not your bag, the 29 year old‘s lyrical abilities are difficult to refute. I get the feeling that he’s one of those guys that could flow over just about anything that’s put in front of him. Free mixtapes like this one are a great first opportunity to get acquainted with the artist and get a feel for what he’s all about.
Here’s the first video off the mixtape:
“Anything to Survive (Feat. Freeway)” with production by Beatnick & K-Salaam
Presented in collaboration with LRG clothing, the following information regarding Cold Day In Hell comes directly from the press release.
“Los Angeles clothing/media purveyor LRG has partnered with Gibbs for the release, making manifest Freddie’s creative vision in the album art and pending videos. The album cover features a disheveled marquee, a nod to Gary, Indiana’s tragic landmark, the Palace Theater as well as numerous crack-boom and blacksploitation archetypes brought to life by prolific LA graffiti writer and MSK affiliate, Augor. Similarly, the concept for the first video, the grimy “Anything To Survive”, is envisioned by LRG in-house production team Wood Works and Derrick Pike. Unwilling to merely just stamp a logo on the mixtape and call it finished, LRG is assisting in a non-traditional sense, helping to oversee the project by rounding out Freddie’s vision with their resources. The proof is in the product.“
In a recent interview with Source.com, Gibbs, had the following to say about his focus with the release:
“Just diggin’ into these mother fuckers chests, that’s all we doing. Y’know what I mean? I told mother fuckers we was gonna hurt some feelings with the Cold Day shit, so that’s what we plan on doing. That’s the main objective.“
As far as people who continue to listen to shit that he considers whack, the rapper also offers the following advice:
“Quit bumpin’ that bullshit man…. God damn it man. You know mother fuckers is tired of getting in your car and hearing that bullshit.“
To get Cold Day in Hell for free…
Or simply listen to it in full right now
make sure to catch Freddie a the following dates