This 8-track EP/mixtape is the spiritual successor to Gucci’s No Pad No Pencil, as it’s full of nothing but freestyles and Holiday shouting. This was a very unexpected project; a very strange one at that. It’s been so long since I heard Gucci freestyle (before he went in the pen in 2008? Last I remember is that Wet Wipes freestyle) and seeing a whole collection of them as a prelude to Gucci’s The Appeal was very exciting. There isn’t much to say about this project overall; it’s just Gucci’s way of feeding the streets one last time before he drops The Appeal (and also makes this three mixtapes and one album in the span of a month). I’m still giving The Appeal a few listens before I sit down to cover that. Regardless, download this tape, and if you support Big Gucci, do what the title tells you and cop this shit on the 28th. He’s given you free music his whole career, now it’s time to pay your debt.
Like I said in my Mr. Zone 6 review, Gucci finally found his place as an artist; which meant that most of his experimentation was exchanged for a very well crafted collection of flows, and a more prominent focus on proving he can rap well to his haters. Gucci’s been something of a rapping phenomenon since 2008 (around the time he dropped The Movie/Gucci Sosa), and even to this day he remains one of the most criticized rappers alive, who is considered a cancer to hip-hop by purists of the okayplayer ilk and critically acclaimed by the coke-obsessed Pitchfork crowd. Gucci follows in the same line of Lil Wayne and Jay-Z, although he’s rapping far better than both of them in 2010; loved and hated equally, with very little middle-ground. Although both of the aforementioned artists went on to earn the hearts of their detractors in the end, it’s hard to say it people like the 2dbz will ever see the genius behind Radric Davis’ rap guise.
This is Gucci’s fourth mixtape with his personal DJ, DJ Holiday (the others, in chronological order, being EA Sportscenter, Writing On The Wall, and The Burrprint 2 [HD]), and Holiday is again pretty annoying in spots. Thankfully most of the tracks that he ruins with his incessant shouting can be found DJ-free, and the ones that can’t be are kept to a minimal. The intro track features Alley Boy, who I’m still not really feeling too much, as he comes off as an East Atlanta Plies who may actually be authentic with his claims. Regardless of that, Gucci’s intros usually go in one direction; menacing, with gothic instrumentation, such as Dope Boys, It’s Goin’ Up, or Colors; or frantically paced, like Pressure, Classical, or Hurry. This falls more into the latter category; Gucci’s flow is rapid, and the beat feels urgent. Gucci quotes Ice Cube’s “if you scared go to church” line for effect, and dominates the instrumental. Alley Boy does well.
Trap Talk is a Drumma Boy track that sounds like it belongs in an urban film-noir; I just feel like I could see Denzel Washington and Don Cheadle interogating a notorious drug-dealer when I listen to this song, even though Drumma adds some gothic overtones to the heavy Law & Order drums. Gucci loosely tells a story of his time in the trap, while suggesting that he’s still there; when it comes to coke and gun talk, you’d be hard pressed to find a better rapper than Gucci to elaborate on the hard white. Although it’s nothing you haven’t heard from him before, it’s an above-average song that stands out just because it’s executed so well.
I’ve already discussed Gucci Time before, so I’ll just jump to Cleopatra here. This song is a little bit misleading; although Gucci compares a girl to Cleopatra on the chorus, he spends most of the first verse actually revealing some of his personal life (in the most subtle way, as Radric always has), and then spends the second verse winning Miss Cleopatra over (and always screws his voice in a manner similar to Big Boi). Following Cleopatra is First Song Back, which is the unofficial sequel to First Day Out; although it obviously doesn’t have the same impact that the original did, it’s pretty much Gucci talking shit like only he can. Gucci’s actually cut down a bit on his jewelry talk since he came out the pen, so it’s only appropriate that he’d dedicated a song to stunting on a mixtape called Jewelry Selection. The beat is pretty spacey; the haunting sound effects during the breaks remind me of Ghostbusters for some reason.
Electricity is, much like Gucci Time, very strange to me; this honestly sounds like Gucci is finally making songs for those white hipster kids who only jock Gucci’s music because it’s ironic and Pitchfork approves. While Gucci Time finds Swizz Beatz sampling Justice for the second time (and it’s no On To The Next One), Electricity isn’t odd for Gucci because of the lyrics; lyrically, it’s typical Gucci, and finds Gucci celebrating his jewelry once again, comparing their glistening to, uh, electricity. It’s the instrumental that kinda throws me off; it sounds like something I’d hear from Kid Cudi (#noshots), not Radric. Regardless, it’s decent, although not his best.
Gross is more of what I’d want from Gucci; Gucci expanding upon a simple word that’s rarely used in the hip-hop spectrum, and letting his virtuosity push it completely beyond its context. To those uneducated in the subject of Gucci, a song like this would sound weak on the surface; however, delving beneath that you’ll find Gucci stretching every single meaning of gross, and creating new slang in the process. Like Raekwon before him, Gucci requires a lotta patience to get the full effect of his music, especially on these songs where he’s ambitous while still utilizing simplicity.
Stone Cold contains no Steve Austin metaphores, however it does feature a trunk-rattling beat and an instantly catchy hook. Also, Gucci is rapping well. It’s a pretty simple track, hard to really write about but nonetheless good. It’s hard to focus on this with the upcoming two tracks, which’re going to take up a good amount of typing.
Poltergeist and Vampires are a pair of tracks that came out around the same time, about three weeks ago. Both of them are built around horror-movie concepts, and feature dreary, sinister production complimenting the titles. Poltergeist is easily Gucci’s strangest collaboration to date, as he links up with Talib Kweli on a Zaytoven beat that’s easily his most creative since, well, I Think I Want Her. This song hasn’t been approved by either of Gucci’s two audiences, and it’s hard to figure out why either of them had any desire to work with eachother. The trappers hate Talib as much as the heads hate Gucci. Talib doesn’t sound at home on this production, and adapts an uncomfortable fast flow just to get his sound adjusted enough for this track. Which is strange considering the fact that Gucci uses his slowest flow, slithering over the beat just asking for this song to get chopped and screwed.
Vampires is far less confusing, and far more ambiently pleasing. Fatboi produces the Dracula-inspired beat, complete with church bells and organs, and Gucci delivers a classic hook before going into his first verse nonchalantly. Trina follows up Gucci’s verse, and makes Twilight and True Blood references, but misses out on a perfect chance to namedrop Suki (ooh-wee?). Gucci follows up Trina’s kinda confusing verse (did she just call herself Mary Magdalene?) with his excellent second verse, which elevates this amongst some of my favorite Gucci songs. Pull up to the side in my Vampire ride; it’s a yellow Lamb, damn, steering wheel on other side
Bosses is next, and I believe it features Mylah, who co-starred with Gucci on AntiSocial. This song isn’t nearly as noteworthy, or fun as that one was. Don’t Beleeh Dat follows; and finds Gucci sounding rather bitter for once about his haters, at least on the chorus. The subject matter of the actual song is all over the place; I think Gucci just wanted to say fuck you to his detractors, and didn’t know how to address it without sounding as lame as them. So, he got the message across in the hook, and then just decided to have fun with the verses rapping about Cam’ron levels of nonsense.
The unnamed Bonus Track (which I just called To Be Loved, because that’s how Gucci starts off the chorus) samples the classic I Think I Love Her, and is honestly one of the most exciting songs on the mixtape. Gucci shouts out the Brick Squad individually, and then goes onto talk about his takeover of the rap game and how fake his peers and groupies are. Also, he includes imagery like smoking like a locomotive. <3
So, no, Jewelry Selection isn’t his best tape, and won’t turn the haters into believers. However, it’s more than good enough to hold over his fanbase until The Appeal drops on 9/28, and also features some standout cuts that I can imagine being cult favorites in the future. It’s Gucci being Gucci, and if you’re already a fan, you shouldn’t be dissapointed.