For the last few years Atlanta has been a hub in the rap industry for leading the trap era. ATL rappers and producers have laid the foundation for a soundscape that is a source of influence worldwide. Future, Young Thug, Migos, Lex Luger, Metro Boomin, 808 Mafia, Sonny Digital, and Zaytoven are just a few names who have been dominating in rap's trap-induced takeover.
Incredibly, nearly all the promising and prominent stars of the trap movement can be linked back to one man - Gucci Mane. Under the roof of his trap kingdom, he surrounded himself with the future before anyone saw it in them. In this industry there’s a lot of influence that leads back to Atlanta, but many of those ATL roads also lead to Big Guwop. They call him Trap God for a reason.
Before Mike Will made it, Gucci Mane heard the potential of his sound. Before Future was collaborating on a tape with Drake, he did an entire project with Gucci. Before Nicki Minaj was the baddest Barbie in the world, she was down in Atlanta having slumber parties with Gucci. Even though Young Thug had many different deals, he has always been loyal to Gucci and was very vocal about his influence while Gucci was locked away. Coach K only heard about Migos through Gucci and Zaytoven.
If Drake is the surfer that is always looking for a wave to ride, Gucci is the explorer that’s constantly looking for where the next big wave will begin. T.I. has a label, Jeezy has a label, Ludacris has a label. These are three popular, powerful artists from Atlanta, but their influence isn’t close to Gucci’s. From Waka Flocka to Rich Homie Quan, he has had a hand in almost every popular artist that has come out of Atlanta in the last six to seven years. Even more astounding when you think about all the time he spent in jail.
Gucci being freed has been one of rap's biggest moments in 2016. It’s like a lost king returning to his trap throne and the world has been in awe of his every move. Everything he’s done thus far has been major. “1st Day Out Tha Feds” reached a million plays in 24 hours on SoundCloud, the two verses on Kanye’s single, having Drake appear on the hook for “Back On Road” and expanding his engrossing personality onto Snapchat.
Strategically, he’s been racking up wins and keeping pretty quiet. There’s been no beefs but he released a string of videos from Snapchat that alludes that something may be brewing. He has his eyes set on a target, boasting about releasing a song that would end their “future.” Future, just saying the word caused many to believe that the rapper Future would be next to feel his wrath. I think it’s a bit of a reach but out of all the rappers who have appeared in Instagram flicks over at Gucci’s home, Future has yet to be seen. It would be terrible to see these two clash but anything is possible.
The latest song he released, “All My Children,” doesn’t specially attack any person. On the contrary, Gucci is all about love. He is very blunt about acknowledging that he’s extremely influential. He has had a hand in a lot of careers, more than most, to say he has children all across this rap game is an accurate statement and he wants all to know. Gucci's the prototype, the blueprint for street rappers. He boasts about being the best A&R in music, another claim that was made long before he said it, but hearing it from him makes it much more real. From the rappers he chose to associate with to the producers he gambles on, he has a golden ear for who would make noise in this era. In the second verse he raps, “I can take a dope boy and make him go platinum.” Even though this is likely more hyperbole than a statement based in realism, he has put plenty in the position to do so. He put people on the map, to be around him is to be around someone that can help get you heard. Not many can say the same.
FRKO was given four hours to complete his art for the single, and told not to depict anyone in particular (except for Gucci) on the cover. Any onlookers hoping to figure out which rap-based babies art are stand-ins for their favorite artists will be disappointed. As Rico said, "They're random kids. I wasn't trying to catch people's lives in this. They said don't put people's names on it. I kept it real broad."
The cover depicts a cartoon Gucci in a rocking chair surrounded by children. No faces resemble anyone in particular. No names are said on the song. Trap rappers all across East Atlanta to edgy backpackers in Marietta will cite Gucci as a source of inspiration in some form or fashion. You can see it in Travi$ Scott, you can see it in 21 Savage, there’s traces of Gucci all across the industry, not just Atlanta. His style of rapping, his ad-libs, his producers, the work ethic, the personality and persona, a person that has reached a larger-than-life stature. He's walking pop culture.
The sound associated with Atlanta, the trap sound, came right out of his house. Some might take offense to “All My Children.” Gucci isn’t here to be humble or sugarcoat what he has done. Loud and direct, that was the Gucci way before he was locked away and it still is. There’s a line in “So Icy” where he raps, “Little kids wanna be like Gucci when they grow up.”
In a way he predicted on his breakout song that he will be someone that children will strive to be like. He wasn’t wrong. If this second phase of his career is anything like his first, there won’t be a daycare big enough to fit the next wave of Lil La Flares. Father’s Day just passed, hopefully all his sons sent at least a card.
By Yoh, aka Big Yohwop, aka @Yoh31
Photo Credit: Atlantic Records