THE PROBLEM: how can anyone be excited about the way 3-6 has been treading water since Unbreakables which is now a 6-yr-old album! & yet here we have another soul sample wedded to thunderous 808s, the down south version of a Bink track & as exciting now as Blueprint 3 will be.
INITIAL DEFENSE: This stands out — sample is real affecting. But … its not quite there. It needs something. The vitality is missing.
Solution: Gucci Mane on the remix!!
It’s weird, over the last few weeks I’ve done several reviews excoriating old rappers for, superficially, the same problem; with all three its the same old shit. It feels like I’m being a little unfair; how much better can u expect a Freeway LP to be in 2009?? How can someone be critical of E-40, seeing as the guy has basically mastered the art of rapping & is one of the most significant figures of his generation?? What would I rather be listening to, & which artists are actually bringing that dimension, that vitality & relevance that is missing in the releases from some of my favorite rappers? & the answer is always Gucci. The fact is he’s straight-up raised the bar, that even a tossed-off 25 second verse makes something worth hearing. How better to revitalize “30 Inches,” a perfectly produced record that suddenly no longer needs to justify its existence?
In the past few days since Gucci was released folks are catching up & the buzz has really hit the internets, but Im not really quite convinced everyone ‘gets it’ yet, at least on a musical level; His rise isn’t just about hustle or just releasing a million records (Project Pat signaled in a Fader interview that the reason Gucci was hot was because he was everywhere — which misses the point, but its inspired Pat to release tons of new material so Im not exactly complaining). His rise is also about how his music sounds, how fresh it is when compared with the status quo.
I was never really completely on board with Lil Wayne post-Carter II, the mixtape buzz never really resonated with me; I didn’t enjoy his style any more because it seemed like he had become less lyrically oriented, more concerned with that lazy croak and being perceived as ‘weird’. Im not convinced that Wayne really changed the game, musically, in a way that will influence future generations of rappers. Sure a gang of folks are going to imitate his style, & he’ll inspire 9th Ward to bite, the way Andre’s getting jocked by the talented but utterly confused ‘artiste’ B.o.Bobby. When folks bite them, it feels like posturing, an attempt to reference a self-conscious ‘authentic’ artistic stance, or even worse, they use Wayne’s flow like its autotune — an easy route to move up a few extra spots on billboard just because its what is hot at that moment, a crassly empty gesture that misses what makes Wayne work.
But the real achievement Gucci’s made here is that he’s raised the bar for rap artists to hold their audience, and done it in a subtle way, one that is much more difficult to define than Wayne’s enunciated croak; it’s natural, inherent, multi-faceted evolution; he’s made that quantum jump that makes other rappers sound … pointless. When I hear Gucci it sounds like this is where rap is going right now, this is what rap is supposed to sound like; that a real & relevant rapper in 2009 has to be a multi-threat performer, this perfect blend of NWA-descended rawness, a uncompromisable 50 Cent-style ear for a pop hook, his own lane that works outside of the predominant sound & pulls that sound to him (& producers working in that lane), true lyrical creativity — not being a ‘lyricists lyricist’ but actually shifting rap’s vocabulary into his gravitational pull — & developing a firm, unique persona. Young Dro was like this, on a smaller scale, a huge subconscious influence on rappers after him. Its not like OJ raps about calamari because he wants to be perceived as a rapping genius like Dro, the way B.O.B. is making sure folks know he was raised on “Rosa Parks.” OJ & Gucci both reference Dro because that what folks rapped about after Dro — he shifted the language of his era. Gucci’s changing the game in the same way, but on an even larger stage.
This isn’t even close to his best verse but I’ve rewound it maybe 40 times.
Chevy so high baby do you see the trees?
Crawlin down the block 30s slidin like skis
look so sweet gucci mane can roll weed
71 caprice taller than my hum vee
fine red bone, best friend back seat
and then were double datin’ I make them both date me
30 inches, chains makin haters hate me
east Atlanta day everybody looking
flashback triple gold d’s 17s
chickens on the scene I was just 15
big car, big rims all mounting
on somethin clean,
somethin yall ain’t seen.