So that big event track leaked today, thrown up on every rap blog, “Bricks” remix with OJ Da Juiceman, Fabolous, 8ball & MJG and Shawty Lo. It says it still features Gucci but its just his chorus. Shit is kinda boring!! Event remixes seem really shitty lately. I just can’t get down with most of them, no real in-studio feel & a bunch of phoned in lyrics. OJ gets to rap alongside: (a) past-his-prime NYer Fabolous & (b) & (c) living legends + (d) growing-more-tedious non-rapping one-hit southerner. Cool for him I guess. Ehh. The OJ appeal doesnt work as a BIG NAME BLOCKBUSTER remix rapper. It will be a lot better for him artistically if he remains an underground trap rapper who hustles out quality distinctive lyrical rap music for the next ten years & doesnt do much damage to the pop charts, like west coast cats who went gold throughout the 90s without really bothering the charts or getting on posse cut remixes with, i dunno, nelly and eminem.
I dont feel the same way about Gucci.
Gucci is a star, & you can tell he’s known this for awhile; remember around the time he & Jeezy were beefing about the credits for “Icey” and Gucci accused of Jeezy of not being able to even write a hook or a chorus — because Gucci knows he writes songs, not just raps. Then there’s this interview from down-south.com:
I want to be a international star. I want to be a part of the history, a part of the movement of hip-hop. You feel me? I want people to say that I inspire them to rap and I can have a bigger fan base.
And for the last year and half, while the music press, from bloggers to xxl, pretty much ignored him or pretended he hadn’t become the biggest movement in rap, Gucci turned out more mixtapes & built faster street buzz than anybody. Last winter after Back to the Traphouse dropped I copped the first of some ten-odd gucci mixtapes I’d grab this year. even gramaphone was carrying chicken talk 2, next to the boring ny mixtapes, juke and R&B mixes that normally dominate their mixtape selection. 92.3 was spinning him. My friend teaching in the public schools had a jr. high student arguing with her about how Gucci was better than Jeezy. Point is the buzz was real & had penetrated nationally, even though “Freaky Girl” was only a modest hit; it wasn’t about singles like “Gucci Bandana,” it was about mixtapes & material, and he dropped more music than anybody.
But you cant really sustain that buzz purely by being prolific; Gucci also had to became a great rapper.
Something happened after “Icey” — listen to that joint again & hear, even when he thought Jeezy had no hits without him, how generic & plain his flow sounded compared to today. There was no character in his voice, or what there was was hidden. & thats part of the appeal of early Gucci, generic southern rapper, but u certainly wouldnt be blamed for thinking dude was also a permanent southern rapper without a future. But post-Big Cat records he figured something out, and really transformed. Its not just like Noz was saying in defense of that Soulja Boy youtube joint, an issue of ‘practice’. Gucci shot into the stratosphere, not just as a rapper, but had developed into a multi-threat, multi-dimensional artist.
If you think about Pac & how he’s managed to become a blueprint for a pretty wide variety of rappers’ personas and motifs, it can be really informative here. Take T.I.; his rap career has that Pac-sense of nobility of purpose, the discipline it takes to get where he wants to be & a strong enough self-definition to set up emotional, resonant tracks about internal conflict without seeming either soft or hiding behind a facade. The flipside of Pac’s disciplined promise was Pac’s anger, his self-destructiveness, the whirlwind chaotic presence he represented & was perceived as; this aspect was especially emphasized in the media. Add a dose of southern country attitude and you get Gucci, and all the blendings of fact & ‘character’ this represents, the shirtless potbellied x-pill popping drinker with slurred voice and half-lidded eyes from the weed smoke, not giving a shit, reveling in status symbols and the haughty celebration of vibrantly colored cars&jewels, the unrepentant trap star too cool to express much emotion, getting sent back to prison for not finishing his community service (mixtapes dont count dude), assaulting a dude with a pool cue, the video capturing him throwing punches at a female artist … and then how smart he comes off in that interview posted above, son of a schoolteacher & the pure talent he has as a writer, for creating images & motifs that sound anything but generic, his manic creative energy.
(T.I. had legal trouble too but now that hes sorta post-career ‘safe’ u can see it as the urgency he fought to escape the life he’s from, while Gucci’s edge & chaotic streak makes it seem like a careless embrace of the streets.)
The manic creative energy: an entire palette of adlibs that takes Jeezy’s ayyyyyy branding to an entire nother level (burr!) post-Young Dro seafood + color prism raps, rims like go-go dancers, farts that smell like calamari, internal rhymes & switching up his flows on every other song, his sense of humor & love of a dumb punchline, the way his rap style developed thru ‘dumbing’ his flow into a stuffed-nose ignorant rap, a creaky, shambolic & highly addictive backwoods mumbling cadence. His taste in beats, also shambolic, ‘cheap’ contemporary & very unapologetically southern, less anthemic than Jeezy, more low budget, the trademark Zaytoven clatter with heavy 808s & lots of keyboards, Fatboi’s symmetrical musicality, Drumma Boy’s big budget southern rap blockbuster joints, DJ Speedy’s clever conceptualizing. And then theres his hooks, catchy melodies & clever concepts (dont lie “15 minutes past the diamonds” made you laugh + rewind), a clear indicator that dude isnt just a rapper, he makes full-out songs — which is why that recent 80-track monster mixtape of his verses sorta misses the point of Gucci).
In the next few days or so we’ll be posting the 30 best Gucci tracks of 2008 (or around that time — its not always easy to tell when this shit actually dropped. Let us know if theres some big cat era shit that somehow made its way in here). Im not gonna couch these choices on some ‘just our opinion’ shit cuz frankly theres a good chance we’ve heard more than you & are probably right, plus if we provoke u maybe someone will say something interesting. Theres already been an attempt by a few DJs to put out some compilations of Gucci’s recent work but imo they were kinda uneven (much like many of the mixtapes he dropped this year). We’re gonna try to post mp3s of these as we go but since most of them (not all) are jacked from mixtapes Im not interested in coming up w/ some big compilation at the end, instead I’ll probably just recommend a couple of the best tapes for you to check out.
anyway lets just get this shit started.
Best Gucci Mane Tracks of 2008 — 30-26
Best Gucci Mane Tracks of 2008 — 25-21
Best Gucci Mane Tracks of 2008 — 20-16
Best Gucci Mane Tracks of 2008 — 15-11
Best Gucci Mane Tracks of 2008 — 10-6
Best Gucci Mane Tracks of 2008 — 5-1