Gucci Mane’s first album since leaving prison is a riot of big-hitting confessionals, plus Kanye and Drake guest spots
Radric Delantic Davis – AKA trap godfather Gucci Mane – has been a giant of the ever-fertile Atlanta hip-hop scene since 2005, paving the way for the likes of new-school superstars [a]Future[/a] and [a]Young Thug[/a]. But trouble is rarely far away. Mane escaped murder charges in 2006 after shooting an armed attacker, and violent outbursts and stints in psychiatric hospitals have painted an uneasy picture of the 36-year-old rapper. In 2013 he was jailed for three years on drug and gun charges, just as he was beginning to transcend the trap scene he dominated.
Drama, though, has never inhibited his creativity. New album ‘Everybody Looking’, the rapper’s ninth, is the latest addition to an eye-wateringly large discography: Mane dropped no fewer than 29 mixtapes while in prison, including Christmas Day 2013’s ‘The State Vs. Radric Davis II: The Caged Bird Sings’. His release in May this year sparked mass exultations across social media.
In an effort to return with a bang, Mane has turned to two of his trusty producing lieutenants – Mike WiLL Made-It (he of [a]Beyoncé[/a]’s ‘Formation’) and Zaytoven – and some of hip- hop’s most famous for guest spots. A reverential-sounding Drake delivers the chorus on the bouncing ‘Back On Road’; the darker ‘Pussy Print’ has Kanye and Mane discussing their ‘narcissism’; and fellow Atlanta rapper Young Thug is typically frantic on ‘Guwop Home’.
The rest of ‘Everybody Looking’ is set aside for Gucci and his confessional sermons. ‘No Sleep (Intro)’ is a revealing autobiographical tale about his struggle to get off booze and drugs, while ‘Pop Music’ takes on his detractors (although given the nature of his most recent conviction, lines such as “Fuck all that rap beef, let’s have a gun battle” may be a little short-sighted). ‘Robbed’, meanwhile, demonstrates some self-deprecation that refreshingly cuts into that braggadocio: “I reminisce about the day I got robbed / Ain’t ashamed to say I got robbed”. Mane’s plodding style of narration may not be the most magnetic in hip-hop, but his stories are captivating.
His legend was amplified during his stay in prison and with ‘Everybody Looking’ he’s consolidated it. The intrigue that surrounds him remains, the songs he’s releasing are fresh and exciting, and he’ll probably drop another mixtape next week – just to keep things interesting.
Record label: Atlantic Recordings
Release date: 22 Jul, 2016