By: Peter Kolb – Opinions Editor
“Now that Gucci’s home it’s over for you Gucci clones”
On May 26th of 2016, Gucci Mane was released from his two year stint in prison. On July 22nd of 2016, Gucci Mane’s new album was released. Now, a lot happened in between then. Gucci Mane has released seven music videos, a truly astonishing number that gets a little less astonishing when you realize that if you were Gucci Mane and on house arrest you wouldn’t have a whole lot to do other than make music videos. He starred in a Supreme ad. He was interviewed by Fader, where he happily discussed his new perspective, new healthy lifestyle, and new feeling of being sober. It’s a completely different and refreshing Gucci to see: sober, healthy, articulate, happy, and most of all: hungry.
Very rarely do we get to see an artist like Gucci Mane in the situation we currently see Gucci Mane in. For the first, but hopefully not the last, time in my writing career I’m going to compare Michael Jordan to Gucci Mane. But before I do that, and before I get to Everybody Looking, it’s imperative to give at least a brief introduction of who the artist Gucci Mane is.
Because while Gucci has never seen the mainstream spotlight of someone like Tupac, Lil Wayne, or Kanye West, he is just as, if not more so influential to what modern day hip hop sounds like.
Over the past five years it has become evident where the next wave of rap is taking us. Up and coming rappers are opting to take a much more stylized, less lyrically driven approach to the genre. Direct proof of this can be found in XXL’s 2016 “Freshman Class”, a list which aims to highlight the next wave of rappers they believe are about to make it big. Out of the ten rappers chosen, maybe two could be considered “lyricists”. While their other Freshman classmates such as Lil Yachty, 21 Savage, Lil Uzi Vert, Kodak Black, and more deliver bars that make old-school hip hop heads scoff at before riding off on a horse, most likely high up. Nonetheless, it is clear that this is where hip hop is headed. It is almost equally as clear when reading that list, that Gucci Mane is one of the most influential rappers of the 21st century. Artists such as Young Thug, Future, Wacka Flocka Flame, and many many more have taken Gucci’s sound, added their own unique spin to it, and achieved, in some cases, more mainstream success than Gucci himself. But this article isn’t about Gucci Mane’s influence on modern day hip hop. There are plenty of other much better written articles you could find on that subject with a quick Google search. This article is about Gucci Mane’s new album Everybody Looking and why to me, it could just be his most impressive album yet.
Everybody Looking sits at a fairly concise fifteen songs (extremely concise in the context of Gucci albums). The album has very few weak points, but some weak points nonetheless. The song “Back on Road”, while it does have a great verse and an even better Drake chorus is too short. A Drake verse to close the song should have been a no-brainer addition that would have prevented this from being a weak point in the album. “Gucci Please” has a pretty silly chorus that can definitely get annoying after the fifth or six time hearing it. “Robbed” is just a pretty bad song overall, in my opinion. “Pick Up The Pieces (Outro)” is a pretty forgettable song, which is a big fault for a closing track. Thankfully, these faults are nearly drowned out by the upsides.
Gucci is more focused on this project than he’s ever been. It seems like there is a definite atmosphere Gucci attempts to capture on this album. Unlike some of his other albums there really aren’t any songs that seem out of place (I’m looking at you “Sex In Crazy Places”). He’s even comfortable handling this album with a mere three features. For comparison, his previous album had sixteen. Drake is Drake and gives a Drake chorus on “Back On Road”. Kanye delivers an unfortunately short, but still impressive verse on “P**** Print”, and Young Thug blows both of those features out of the water with his verse on “Guwup Home”. Only Young Thug could make you sing along to a line so absurd like “my teeth white like a toilet tissue” in a trap song.
Aside from the quality features, Gucci Mane delivers some of his strongest bars to date. This is what sets Gucci Mane apart from his “Gucci clones”. While many of the up and comers capture the charisma Gucci delivers, their lyrics lack the substance and technical skill Gucci maintains. For instance on the chorus of “Guwop Home” Gucci raps “orange seats, orange feet, what do all that orange mean?”. Which is a pretty cute little bar that flows incredibly well but then opens up even more when you see the next line where Gucci tells you what that orange means: “Old Rich Ass N****, I Got Everything” (first letters of each word). Or on “Pop Music” when Gucci raps “I’m hearing rumors that my label bout to drop Gucci/ In my convertible Rari they call me drop Gucci/ Rappers having conventions on how to stop Gucci/ They know my Glocks sing my hooks and we call it pop music”. I believe that “Pop Music” refers to being both the sounds of Gucci’s Glocks firing and also the bastardized versions of Gucci Mane that have been sneaking their way into mainstream.
No, these aren’t Kendrick level bars but that’s because rappers like Kendrick and rappers like Gucci Mane are trying to do completely different things with their music. To fault them for something they’re not even attempting to do is to miss out on the really impressive aspects of this music.
Everybody Looking is one of his most accessible projects yet. The songs are catchy, but still manage to avoid sacrificing the “classic Gucci” sound in exchange for mainstream appeal. “No Sleep”, “Pop Music”, and “At Least a M” are right up there with some of Gucci’s best songs in his discography. This album proves that not only is Gucci Mane back, he’s also back. It does what any quality rap album does: makes any rappers who hear it go straight to the studio. We can only expect more from Gucci on his next album (which, judging by his output since he’s been out of prison, is probably coming out next week or something).
Anyways, the Michael Jordan thing. Right.
In 2002, Michael Jordan announced he would be once again coming out of retirement. He would once again step onto the court and play a game that he had perfected and irreversibly changed for better or for worse. Jordan joined the Washington Wizards on their quest to mediocrity, and boy did he they get it. The Wizards finished fifth in the Atlantic division with a 37-45 record, easily missing the playoffs. Jordan played alright. He wasn’t awful, but he clearly wasn’t what he used to be. Michael Jordan retired for his final time at the end of the 2003 season.
Imagine if Michael won his sixth MVP award and led the Wizards to their second championship ring. Imagine if Michael came back out of retirement and showed everyone that not only is he just trying to do what he did the previous decade, but that he was still better than them at it. Imagine if Michael Jordan was Gucci Mane.
Highlights: “At Least a M”, “P**** Print”, “No Sleep – Intro”, “Guwop Home”
Lowlights: “Robbed”, “Pick Up The Pieces – Outro”