I mince no words in stating that I am a Gucci Mane fan. Following his career over the course of the year has kept me busy. The federal gun charges that Gucci picked up threatened to put him away for up to twenty years, although he was sentenced to only thirty-nine months after pleading guilty. Despite spending 2014 behind bards, Gucci Mane, through his hardworking and talented label 1017 Brick Squad Records, has debuted over a dozen official releases of new music affiliated with his name. Gucci’s contributions had been recorded immediately before his most recent incarceration, a period in which he “was recording about 13 songs a day.” By the combined labors of a talented team of engineers, producers and studio executives, a formidably vast wealth of recordings has been indelibly carved into the Atlanta rapper’s legacy.
It isn’t surprising to find that this prolific output is not uniformly good. I’d be hard pressed to make the case for an album or mixtape’s entire tracklist. The best songs, the ones in which Gucci Mane’s lilting drawl, perceptive criticisms and tendencies toward inanity are paired with a thoughtful beat, are dispersed through the oeuvre proper. I’ve picked some of my favorites to share here.
10. “Brick N a Brick”
The Oddfather has a title with little originality to it, and the album art, inspired by The Godfather, is nothing special either. There was no demand for this album, and it came during a dry spell in the middle of the summer. “Brick N a Brick” gets playback, simply for its grandiose claims, tight song structure and decadent trappings.
9. “Like The Gambinos”
Gucci Mane has a history of signing young talent, and on Felix Brothers he teams with his Brick Squad proteges PeeWee Longway and Young Dolph. Longway has become more visible following the release of his solo mixtape The Blue M&M, and Young Dolph has also been busy recently, releasing Cross Country Trappin and High Class Street Music 4. This collaboration is effective and fun, and “Like The Gambinos” is a good example.
“Regular” is one of the best songs on mid-season mixtape The Return of Mr. Perfect. Imaginative lyrics and a mellow beat give this song head-bobbing catchiness. It stands out for its lack of pretension and keen rhyme schemes. I also enjoy the line “I’m a gangsta and I get that from my grandpa,” another shoutout to the Davis family patriarch who’s been such a big influence on Gucci Mane. The song’s production comes courtesy of Southside, a champion beatsmith whose work with Gucci in the past has been a success.
7. “Trap On Wheels”
This is another Gucci Mane/Young Scooter teamup track, and it is effective in its simplicity. The pace is slow and the lyrics functionally gangster, an examination of drug dealing with a vehicular twist. There are references to Forgiatos and statements about smoking weed and selling coke. It’s more than sufficient to make a point and has fun making it.
6. “Lef Some”
Ever since 1017 Thug came out, Young Thug has been receiving praise for his distinctive voice, sometimes veering towards Lil Wayne’s croaks and other times squawking with abandon. Young Thugga Mane La Flare could not have come at a better time; more than four months had passed since Gucci’s last album, The State vs. Radric Davis II: The Caged Bird Sings had been released, and it was imperative Gucci respond to his criminal charges by showing a substantial musical presence. By pairing with Young Thug, Gucci further associated himself with Young Thug, who, having landed a surprise hit with “Stoner,” was at the top of his game. “Lef Some” is a home-run from a bizarre mixtape with songs like “OMG” and “OMG BRO” sharing the same tracklist.
5. “Stand 4 It”
“I make a hundred K a day, that’s a slap in the face” Gucci says to introduce the first proper song on Trap God 3, and this remark emphasizes the conflict discussed in this song: poverty and wealth. Gucci describes the impoverished living conditions he was raised in and his ambitious goals to raise his social standing through criminal enterprising (Ianni’s crooked ladder). Though presently the rapper spends his days in a room with less square footage than the average car garage, he has had a successful career, making a great deal of money from rapping and even trying his hand at acting in Harmony Korine’s coming-of-age film Spring Breakers. “Stand 4 It” hits hard and pulls no punches, a knockout track on one of Gucci’s most hotly anticipated releases in recent memory.
4. “Jugg House”
Young Chop has produced a fine beat for this tune, and Gucci Mane puts it to good use. I first started giving this song listens after Young Scooter’s line “you can’t jugg, jugg man / I’ll cut off your hand” made me laugh with deep mirth. Scooter’s verse is purely ignorant, and it gives way to a wonderful chorus in which Gucci tries his hand at Spanish. The verse Gucci furnishes is reminiscent of “Lemonade” (he mentions a yellow Maserati) and contains an Atlanta Hawks/Miami Heat spot. Fredo Santana’s verse, however, takes points off the song’s overall score. He mumbles, loses the beat, and (while he couldn’t have known this when writing it) uses a lot of the same rhyme pairs as Young Scooter. Still, the first 2:20 of this song is a trap banger.
3. “Brand New”
Gucci Mane is an American, and a wealthy one to boot. His proclivity for spending and excess is documented in many of his songs, and “Brand New” demonstrates this penchant for hedonism. Greed and a fat wallet are powerful forces, and Gucci Mane, on this song from PeeWee Longway’s White Album (Gucci curated and hosted this release as part of the World War 3D series, along with The Green Album and The Purple Album), revels in his debauched lifestyle. It’s a gleeful romp though Gucci’s joyland and has pleasant bars from Longway as well.
2. “Top in the Trash”
Mike Will made a great beat. The tolling piano chords and distorted hi-hats backing this powerful track are complemented by aptly utilized audio effects and a sensible construction. Gucci focuses his attention on topless sport cars, a topic explored on other songs like “Panoramic Roof” and “I Don’t Do Roofs” but not with the level of enthusiasm and recklessness exhibited here. Gucci’s rhymes are witty, making wordplay of the names of G-Unit members, exposing a fraudulent gangster as being “faker than Harry Potter” and appraising the high quality of the marijuana he consumes. I’m not a Chief Keef fan, and I find his contribution to this song embarrassing, but a Chief Keef enthusiast might be more delighted by it. As with “Jugg House,” this issue of a weak last verse is resolved for me by ending the track early, and what I enjoy from “Top in the Trash” I enjoy fondly.
1. “Young Ho”
The bass on this song explodes out of a good sound system, accentuating Gucci’s verses and making his words punch. The lyrics, though regrettably misogynist in character (let’s show some respect, huh?), are smooth and transition seamlessly from line to line. Gucci sounds travelled and contemplative, as though he’s seen much and gone far, offering the wisdom he’s learned through encounters with the world. This is the purest form of “banger” on the entirety of Trap God 3 and is the likeliest Gucci Mane song released this year that could simultaneously entertain his oldest fans, perk up the ears of distinguished hip-hop enthusiasts and also achieve popularity. “Young Ho” is a weighty testament to Gucci’s long career and staying power, the best cut from his pre-prison recording sessions so far. A world with “Young Ho” in it is a world where Gucci Mane has a positive future ahead of him.