Gucci Mane (feat. Lil Wayne) - Runnin’ Circles (Mixtape, 2013)
Is this Gucci’s “My”? Gucci’s having a lot of fun on Trap God 2, which is revitalizing after the anger sprayed off in every direction on the first installment. He also utilizes Zay more on this tape than he has in years, no doubt as a result of his resurgence after his work on Street Lottery.
Waka Flocka Flame (feat. French Montana and Frenchie Montana) - Anything But Broke (Mixtape, 2013)
Last year, after the roughest 12 months of Waka’s career, and presumably one of the hardest years of his life after losing close friend Slim Dunkin, many people assumed Waka had fallen off. His sophomore album, though good, was offset by a number of forced crossover attempts that did nothing to increase his fanbase, only agitating his tried and true fans, the same ones he named a third of the album after. He tried to give back to those same fans with Salute Me Or Shoot Me 4, and even though it didn’t suffer from the problems that Triple F Life did, it also felt incredibly rushed, with most songs sounding almost identical to one another. It didn’t help that Chief Keef emerged from the same gunsmoke that Waka did 3 years earlier, only he brought with him an even more youthful vigor and the murder capitol. Keef was dead-eyed and intimidating upon his initial arrival, almost rendering Flocka’s increasingly cartoonish violence ineffective, and it almost seemed like Waka might sadly move into self parody territory if he kept going down the path he’d set himself on.
Waka wastes no time in 2013 to jump completely out of the slump he found himself in with his best project since the first DuFlocka Rant (10 Toes Down). He is increasingly pissed off, and the light-heartedness that he’s brought to his raps since the mainstream more widely accepted him is all but absent here, with the only real exception being the brilliant, whispered “College Girl.” Maybe the best example of this is on “Anything But Broke,” where Flocka lets loose of a true gem of nihilistic writing. Gangsta rap has always been a nihilistic genre, but Waka’s chorus takes it a step further here with the line“we gonna fight and fucking shoot until our souls disappear.” The same Waka that was riding a segway in a cowboy hat last year is rapping about his very soul ceasing to exist in 2013, and I couldn’t be any more excited about it.
Du Flocka Rant 2 is exactly what we all needed to kick off this sure to be solemn year.
Chill Will, one of the many rappers only I care about, is a (former?) Gucci Mane protege, and the only BSM member I’ve been consistently impressed with in years. Admittedly, his success rate more than likely comes from the lack of music that he releases, especially solo material, but he’s captivated me in all his features and the few songs of his own that have trickled out. The latest of which found its place on a mixtape dominated by Future songs (the standout of which being the great “YSL Cheetah”, a song far more reminiscent of his 2011 mixtape run than the autotuned-ballads that finally got those more stubborn critics to pay attention to him [hey guys!]). Despite being randomly dropped in a slew of songs by more recognizable names, Chill Will’s Mike Will-produced banger stands out as one of the more instantly gratifying listens.
Will’s thick drawl, which is as Bama as it comes, is his main selling point, but it’s hard to deny the unusual wavelength Will’s on. Though Will’s certainly no Southern gentleman, on this particular track, he spends the entire track dismissing females who lack proper etiquette. It isn’t groundbreaking, but Will is at least offering more than the far more blogged-about Ice Burgandy, being one of the few Brick Squad third-tiers with a fully formed personality. Will maybe a student of Gucci, but he doesn’t live by his tricking philosophy; evidenced by the first few bars, where he refuses to buy his lady friend something as lowly as a single banana.
Gucci Mane (feat. Future) - Fuck The World (Brick Squad, 2012)
Gucci and Future have finally found their stride this year as a duo after a string of disappointing projects last year (including the enjoyable, yet entirely uneven FreeBricks), and “Fuck The World” is just another exercise in this new found chemistry. It helps that Mike Will helmed the song, and with the resurgence of creativity he’s brought to Gucci this year, along with his musical soulmate Future, this was bound to succeed even if all the elements didn’t come together.
“Fuck The World” certainly isn’t a perfect record, and that’s really no one’s fault but Gucci’s. Even though Gucci manages to come out looking strong in the end due to some unexpected disses directed at Yung Joc and Block Ent., he’s clearly coasting here, and sounds mostly uninspired. When he says “I did a song with Lil Wayne and I killed it,” rhyming the previous line with “killed it” yet again, you’ll be longing for the days of “AK47 hit ya everywhere from the ankle up”.
Truthfully, this song could’ve failed without Future; but Future’s slightly angsty, but mostly resilient chorus is a beautiful thing to behold. That’s not even touching on his verse, which caps off the song, where he once again visits his sickle-cell-ridden sister from “Bigger Picture,” and the cousin who killed himself in “Deeper Than The Ocean.” Future really gives you a reason for his fuck the world mentality, and its his positive demeanor while spouting off these terrible life events that makes this verse truly motivational.
Gucci Mane (feat. Waka Flocka Flame & Rocko) - Euphoria (Brick Squad, 2009)
your love is like an addiction to heroin/there’s nothing else I feel it can compare with/I’m arrogant, she got more fans than Aerosmith/or Miley Cyrus, or Janet Jackson/attraction really strong like a magnet/please excuse my French, but she a bad bitch
Zaytoven’s back to crafting slow, lurching beats, and Gucci’s back to domineering them. On this track, which may feature my favorite production from Zay since “I Think I Want Her”, Gucci almost adopts an EA Sportscenter delivery, the natural flow of his verses bouncing off Zay’s creeping keys. He does not sound sober here.
Gucci Mane (feat. Future) - Sometimes (Brick Squad, 2012)
It appears that Gucci is spending more time writing these days, and less time shaving (what’s with the crustache, man?). I’ve actually avoided this track for a couple days, and I’m regretting that now. Since Freebrickz dropped last year, I’ve been well under the assumption that Gucci and Future have absolutely no chemistry. Despite the cues that Future takes from Gucci’s playbook, both are two distinctly different rappers that compliment eachother in no way. Unfortunately, they have the same fanbase, and that means they’re gonna be collaborating until the day one of them does one too many lines.
It’s been frustrating following Gucci, and though some may argue that Gucci has been showing flashes of brilliance once again, this isn’t the first time that Gucci has really been spitting well again. Both “North Pole” and the Yo Gotti-assisted ”Animosity“ from Mike Will’s mixtape were strong reasons for me to believe Gucci maybe back to form. Truthfully, he’s been rapping well on and off since last year’s Writing On The Wall II/Freebrickz (which didn’t work as a collaboration, but did allow Gucci to flex his pen for a minute before being hauled back to jail). While the leaks for Trap Back are good (I don’t think any of them really constitute as the best thing Gucci’s done in the past 12 months), I’m still not convinced if this is the return of the Gucci of yore.
“Sometimes” is great though. Gucci’s rapping pretty openly about his life for a change, his top down so he can “look up at the galaxy” to clear his mind. His verse is so good that it’s almost a shame when Future comes on. Though Future is moderately self-aware here, he still misses the opportunity to silence critics by focusing on the skulls and spikes that he really spent too much time rapping about on Astronaut Status. It’s not that what Future is doing is bad, by any means, but when stacked up against a driven Gucci, he does fall flat (it doesn’t help that Drumma’s production brings Future’s normal energy down to a stuttering halt). This is exactly why Freebrickz failed as a whole.
Trap Back will come out on February 5th. It will probably be simultaneously great and uneven. Which means I’ll listen to it more than anything else this year.