After everything that’s happened since Gucci Mane got out of prison, it’s something of a surprise that it’s taken this long for him to link up with Future and record some new music. The two previously joined forces in 2011 for Free Bricks, a joint mixtape which Gucci mostly carried due to Future’s diminished presence and weak voice. They’ve appeared on plenty of other songs together in the interim: DJ Scream’s “Hoodrich Anthem” and “Shinin’ (Remix),” “Brick Fair” and “Sometimes” off Trap Back, “Careless and Reckless,” “Any Many Miny Mo,” “Confused,” and “Fuck The World” come to mind. So why did it take them almost six months to hit the studio again?
Future started the year the hottest rapper in the game. 2015 was good to him; “The Mixtape Trilogy,” consisting of Monster (October 28th, 2014), Beast Mode (January 15th, 2015) and 56 Nights (March 21st, 2015) generated enormous buzz leading up to the release of DS2, considered one of the best hip-hop albums of the year. Future continued generating publicity with the Drake collaboration What A Time To Be Alive, which birthed the instantly and incessantly annoying “Jumpman.” The new year saw Purple Reign and EVOL, respectively a mixtape and an album, both sounding like leftovers from the DS2 sessions which, nevertheless, saw a hit in the form of “Wicked.”
And yet, all good things come to an end. At some point, Future’s winning streak stopped. People debate over whether DS2 was the endpoint in his mid-career successes, or if Project ET: The Esco-Terrestrial was the nail in the coffin. Regardless, they were an impressive couple of years, and Future remains a highly sought after guest artist. His appearances on A$AP Ferg’s “New Level,” 21 Savage’s “X,” DJ Khaled’s “I Got The Keys,” Jeezy’s “Magic City Monday,” Belly’s “Frozen Water,” 2 Chainz’s “Doors Open,” and songs from Lil Durk, Big Sean, French Montana, Chance the Rapper and Yo Gotti have kept his name relevant even as his star has faded.
Future is at something of a crossroads right now. By all means, he has earned the right to some time off. His beef with Rocko and his beef with Ciara have given his name a sour taste, and it could be in his best interests to lay low and let this blow over. But this is Fewtch we’re talking about; he’s into a different kind of “lay” and “blow.”
Officially, Free Bricks 2 was already released in 2013, a collaboration between Gucci Mane and Young Scooter which carried on the intent and vision of the first installment. As such, this new project from Future and Gucci Mane, a presumed sequel to the first Free Bricks, carries the name Free Bricks 2 (Zone 6 Edition). Earlier this week, the story goes, Future and Gucci Mane met up, ditched their entourages, and hit the studio together. The result is this new six-track mixtape, which sounds surprisingly considered for a spur of the moment release.
It took me a few listens to really get it. At first, I felt like some of Future’s cadences were off-putting, and the hooks weren’t grabbing me. Then I played it again. Suddenly, “All Shooters” came across loud and clear, a trap banger with hard lyrics about murder and drug running. I listened again. “Die A Gangsta” belts out the speakers, a trap anthem imbued with the essence of Zone 6 hood masculinity. Repeat. “Kind a Dope“‘s hook hits me, and I find myself with the song stuck in my head.
The energy is crisp and clean here. Each song is focused and driven, with Gucci and Future switching up roles and styles on each song to create a mixtape which bumps with originality and finesse. “RR Trucks,” “Selling Heroin” and “Zone 6” initially struck me as the weaker cuts on the project, but with time I came to see them for their unique qualities which ultimately strengthen the tape. The chemistry between the two rappers is evident and spills out on each track.
We’re now a month out from The Return of East Atlanta Santa, and there are reportedly several Future mixtapes in the wings as well. Time will tell if those new releases will stand up to the classics already under the belts of those two greats. For now, Free Bricks 2 (Zone 6 Edition) is a refreshing appetizer and more than whets my palate for what is to come. Download it here.