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In an age where hip-hop music is flooded with the glorified hipsters of the internet boom, one could argue that this was no longer an industry for gangsta rappers to thrive in. Freddie Gibbs doesn’t only dispute that, but does so with no apologies on his latest project. The Gary, Indiana native offers you a no holds barred body of work that’s tailor made just for the streets. Cold Day In Hell provides vivid street tales that don’t necessarily cater to a mainstream audience, but still provide an outlet that could touch a broader audience. “Gangsta” Gibbs puts himself on full display, without compromising even for a second the sound and music that’s made him such an appealing new artist to date.

From the project’s start, the song “Barely M.A.D.E. It” let’s us know that while he may not be heavy in the streets these days, Gibbs is only one foot out the environment he grew up in. This is even more clear as he follows up with the track, “Rob Me a N*gga”. The hook is simple, and yet so alluring you can’t help but find yourself reciting along with it. This is street rap at it’s best, and provides a sense of nostalgia one may get from the 90′s era of dark,gritty, hip hop. Gibbs is taking you on a trip through the world as only a man with nothing to lose but everything to gain could show you. TheJ.U.S.T.I.C.E. League produced “187 Proof” brings you more in tune with the sounds of today, as Gibbs talks that poetic street rap with an effortless flow. One gets the sense quite early that while Gibbs may like to indulge in the mainstream success, he isn’t going to stray from the music which he identifies best with. He’s perfectly at home with songs such as “Let Em Burn” and “B.A.Nn.ed”.

If you thought Gangsta Gibbs was going to be taking this ride alone, think again. He has a rather fitting list of guest features, such as 2 Chainz on “Neighborhood Hoes”. The playful track is typical in it’s approach, but it still serves it’s purpose. West Coast upstart Dom Kennedy joins Gibbs along with Polyster for “Menace II Society”, to bring us one of the more stand out tracks of the project. Freeway even tags along for a collaboration that would please the most die hard State Property fans happy on , “Anything to Survive”. Of course all the features weren’t necessarily good ones, as the Juicy J assisted “Str8 Slammin” is filler at best. Even “Gotta Let Ya Nuts Hang”, which features fellow CTE labelmate Scrilla comes off as forced, and misplaced on the project.

Of course a street album such as this for a CTE artist could only be complete with an appearance by Mr. Corporate Thug himself, Young Jeezy. The CTE head honcho blesses the track “Twos and Fews”, and shows us why Gibbs was a welcome addition to the label’s roster. In fact, everything from Gibbs lyrical content, to his uncompromising authority on the mic resembles his boss, and further demonstrates his strengths as an artist. Just as Jeezy made it a priority to showcase the plight of the trap without fear of mainstream acceptance, his rising protege is traveling the same lane. This is quite clear from the song “Heaven Can Wait”, in which Gibbs talks of enjoying the best that life has to offer so far with no worries of what the future may ultimately bring. His subject matter may not change much, but you can’t help but find yourself looking right into his world through his words.

In the end, Cold Day in Hell is not a game changer. It won’t set the world on fire, nor will it set the bar for anything else that has or will come out this year. What Cold Day In Hell does do is provide a soundtrack that will remain in rotation well past the holiday season. It’s hard knock rhymes mixed with street dreams,  and that music that the thugs are going to knock regardless. When breaking this project down you have to judge it on it’s intent, not it’s potential. While most will herald it as a modern day blueprint for mixtapes, in truth it’s really just a solid enjoyable listen. Freddie Gibbs has given you possibly his most well rounded work to date, without compromising his artistic integrity. He dreams of the finer things as we all do, but isn’t afraid to grind it out as opposed to making throw away ringtone rap. No, here we have an artist who is determined to make it, but only by his standards. That alone deserves a salute, because for the moment, hell has frozen over, and it doesn’t seem like Gibbs plans on letting that change anytime soon.

  Mixtape D.L.
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