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Cold Day In Hell
One of the worst rap projects we’ve heard yet.
Gary, Indiana is not a noted area for hip-hop. Still, towns smaller in size and more backward in attitudes have produced rap talents (we refer to Gadsden, Alabama, which gave us Yelawolf) so we were prepared to be surprised. We even went and looked up Gary online. Key facts: it only became a city because a steel company wanted a site for its factory in the early 1900s; it is not named after Gary Lineker; and A Nightmare On Elm Street was partly filmed there. And here’s another key fact: Gary, Indiana has given us a much-hyped MC named Freddie Gibbs.
Just for that, it should be bombed back to the stone age.
What we’d heard of Freddie, we liked. His turn on Cunninlynguists’ ‘Hard As They Come’ was dope, and although he was clearly influenced by ‘Pac – always a risky path to travel – we were tentatively excited for Cold Day In Hell. And it certainly inspired some strong emotions in us. Emotions like hate. And confusion. And, eventually, pity. Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to one of the worst rap projects we’ve heard yet.
This is gangsta rap. We don’t mean that as a criticism. Gangsta rap is great. We love it. But for it to sound even remotely relevant, gangsta rap has had to go beyond simply telling tales of the streets. That worked for a while back when NWA, ‘Pac and Biggie were recording. But if you’re going to tell the same stories they were telling, nearly twenty years later, you have to do it with a little bit of flare. It’s something DMX realised a few years ago. And lately, The Clipse, Rick Ross and even Joell Ortiz (to a certain extent) all took it to heart. They advanced gangsta rap. Freddie, it seems, didn’t get that particular memo.
It’s just…awful. Borderline unlistenable. Freddie’s rhymes are average at best, and while his rapid-fire flow is a neat trick, it’s a horrible fit for his languorous voice. We get that he’s stuck with this voice, but he just sounds too much like someone trying to impersonate ‘Pac. In a charades tournament. At a Butlins camp.
And then, there are the beats: half-baked, synth-heavy experiments that Manny Fresh would have turned his nose up at. The opening tracks Barely M.A.D.E It and Rob Me A Nigga are painful enough, but then he comes on with 187 Proof, and it’s a Justice League beat. At that point, we just gave up the will to live. Freddie, the only person who has ever made a Justice League beat sound good is Rick Ross. And it goes on. Track after track of utter drivel. The least enjoyable hip-hop we’ve ever heard.
And while this is probably criticism enough, we have one more bone to pick (may as well do this properly). The mixing. It’s awful. It’s distorted, unbalanced and generally off-putting. For the record, we didn’t rock this on crappy iPod headphones. We listened to it on a set of studio-quality Beyerdynamic cans – awfully sorry if that sounds pretentious, but our ears are OK. The ones belonging to Freddie’s mix engineer, apparently, are not.
Steer well clear.
Words Rob Boffard