Everybody Looking. An album title fitting of an artist who has been the center of attention since his release from prison.
On May 20, Gucci Mane was finally set free after serving two years behind bars and his entry back into civilization sent shockwaves across social media. It felt like a dream, after being away for what seemed like a decade, one of Atlanta’s most prolific rappers appeared like some rare Pokemon. His appearance was slimmer, the legendary lean gut had been replaced by a six pack. “First Day Out The Feds,” the first official Gucci release since his incarceration, had a sound that was sharper, focused, and even clearer than before. It was as if a new man walked out of prison, such an obvious difference between who he was and the man that now stood before the world. That's how the rumors of Gucci being a clone started. Everybody was looking, everybody was listening, the return of Gucci Mane was an event but the release of Everybody Looking could potentially be an even bigger one.
A classic hip-hop album, that’s how Mike Will described the album to Complex. This isn’t the first time a producer has described an artist's album he’s working on as such. It builds hype, gets people talking, but Gucci isn’t in a position where press is necessary. I believe that Mike Will is sincere, that he sees something special in this album. Gucci’s engineer, Sean Paine, echoed Will's sentiments calling the album the realist one that he’s ever done. This is a man who has mixed over 30 Gucci albums and a countless number of songs, it’s safe to consider him an expert on all things Guwop.
Gucci returned to writing his raps, he’s eating healthier, he stopped doing drugs, and seems to be cleansed in a spiritual sense. The Trap God has never seemed so holy, and there’s a chance all the changes in his life could bring the album of his career. Everybody Looking isn’t just a comeback project, but a moment of redemption for a man who reached the status of a myth while simultaneously almost ruining his entire life and career. This is his true second chance at being a rap star.
Impressively, he recorded the album, the music videos, and even the Supreme teaser all under house arrest. A very nice house. His work-a-holic nature hasn’t slowed down because of the beeper attached to his leg. Just imagine what will happen once he’s free to roam as he pleases. The Gucci clones will truly be in trouble then. The Return Of Mr. Zone 6 was the title of Gucci’s last studio album that was released in 2011. It’s been five years since Gucci had a true commercial release. This isn’t some free mixtape of songs that was pre-recorded and stashed away for years. The 14 track that make up this album will mark the beginning of a new chapter in the Book of Gucci.
Like past 1-Listen reviews I’m glued to my seat from beginning to end. I must listen and give my gut reaction to each song without stopping, pausing, or rewinding. Nothing left to do but say Burrrrrr and press play.
1. "No Sleep"
The sounds of thunder and ominous piano keys followed by Zaytoven's classic tag. The keys are pulsing as if they were electrocuted by lightning. A Mike Will tag, so Zay and Mike Will made this one together. The slow-tempo is infectious, this one will knock in any whip. Gucci confessing to being an ex-drug addict is pretty serious. I read that Gucci was reading the bible in prison so his "But just like Noah it been rainin' the last 40 days" line is interesting. Wondering will there be more biblical references? There’s a few tricks in this opening record. I could get used to this Miketoven combination, the keys and drums together is like Goku fused with Vegeta. Only one verse but it’s a strong one, this is a nice intro. Gucci say he has a lot to say, lets see what he gets off his chest in the next 13 songs.
2. "Out Do Ya"
Zaytoven is bringing heat. His progression as a producer is impressive, you can tell his beats have become far more intricate while still being simple. “How you let a nigga in the feds out do ya?” Gucci is posing a question for all the rappers who watched him sit behind bars and still stand near the top. Blunt as always, claiming that he isn’t politically correct because he isn’t a politician. Gucci for President! This is a trunk rattler.
The Drake and Gucci single. I like Drake, I like him on this record, but I still question if he and Gucci have any real chemistry. Gucci’s verse is so aggressive, the beat is thunderous, Mr. Zone 6 feels far too mighty for the 6 God. There’s definitely a commercial appeal that Drake brings but it’s a far more gutter record without him. My only issue with their pending collaborative EP is that there’s no real synergy. One thing about Gucci, his personality is as big as his former gut. It still translates. And these beats. It feels like 2009 but also 2016. He really did help usher in the trap sound of today.
Seconds in and this already sounds like some vintage Gucci. Ha, he claims to prefer rapping over a Zay beat than a Dre beat. That's a crazy thing to say since The Chronic was cited as an album that he named as an inspiration. The hook and verses really feel like old Gucci. Loving the keys, they have the energy of a middle school bus full of hyperactive kids. Credit Mike Will on co-production. There's a like a flute in the background that feels like The Legend of Zelda. Even though the beat is nice, it doesn’t really pull you in like the previous bangers.
5. "Pussy Print" (ft. Kanye West)
Mike Will and Kanye. “I only featured Kanye because we both some fucking narcissist,” ha, imagine Gucci and Kanye being the best of friends. Gucci’s flow is pretty underrated. He floats. In the past he’s definitely forced some words but now he’s not stretching syllables to make things work. Something about comparing his bulging pockets to a pussy print is a bit…. strange. Kanye came on the track with a different voice. It feels like he recorded his verse in a library. It’s the polar opposite to the personality that is almost yelling on "THat Part." I kinda like it. He’s definitely floating. I didn’t really catch any lines, but flow wise it’s one of Kanye’s best rap performances this year. Maybe the writers block is truly over. Besides the hook, this one is sounding like a keeper.
6. "Pop Music"
Whoaaaaa that bass line sounds villainous. MIKE WILL WITH A MEAN DROP. THIS IS OFF THE TOP ROPE POWER BOMB MUSIC. THIS IS THE SPIRIT BOMB OF MIKE WILL BEATS. MY EARS WEREN'T READY FOR THIS MONSTER. “Fuck all that rap beef, let's have a gun battle.” Gucci is in savage mode. I thought, based on the title, the record was going to be a pop song. Oh no, this is *insert double barrel emjoi* pop music. There’s a level of paranoia in the music that I’m liking. I don’t know if Gucci’s haters are real or imaginary but he has a lot of words for them so far. Yeah, this is a definite keeper. A monstrous record.
7. "Guwop Home" (ft. Young Thug)
I literally laughed out loud. Young Thug singing in a child-esque pitch voice that 'Gucci is back' is hilarious. Blue flame shoutout, wonder what strip club gets the most shoutouts. Probably Magic City. Zaytoven is playing these keys, he really is our modern Beethoven. I love any trap beat that sounds like it’s inspired by a cartoon. Young Thug just compared his white teeth to toilet paper. He’s rapping his white teeth off. There’s still moments where his inner Wayne shines through but Young Thug really has came a long way. I appreciate Gucci’s ear for beats, but it helps to have Mike Will in your corner. So far there’s been nothing but towel swinging bangers. "Guwop Home" is currently my favorite production on the album. I need Zaytoven to throw a classical symphony of his beats at Magic City.
8. "Gucci Please"
Gucci can write hooks for days, which is impressive considering how massive his catalog of music is. He still has a few tricks up his sleeves. This Mike Will-produced track is probably the one that has the most single potential since "Back On Road." Infectious and simple, with some funny one liners.
Even though the production has been trap-driven, it doesn’t sound generic. Storytelling Gucci. Reminiscing on the night he got robbed. Even the robber gets robbed in East Atlanta. I really wish we could get a Wire-inspired series that centers around the life of Radric Davis. A song like this, he truly understands the game is the game. From talking about getting robbed to his first robbery. Wouldn’t mind hearing 21 Savage on this one. This beat is incredible by the way. It reminds me of… Gawd Dammit I lost it.
10. "Richest Nigga in the Room"
So far I’m pretty entertained. A trap album from the Trap God. It feels like everything has been elevated. Gucci was selling dope before it was cool, all dope dealers are Gucci kids. He’s a national treasure. “I was hustling before I came out the womb,” that one line alone is why people will say this album is classic. This sounds like it should be a play, we need a Hamilton version of his life. Production from Mike and Zay is incredible. The song returns to "Waybach" as he once again reminds you he'd rather rap with Zay than Dre and I don’t blame him.
I was in the Sheraton Hotel, 15th floor in downtown Atlanta when this song first dropped. After 10 plays I couldn’t help but consider it one of my favorite Gucci records. It has the paranoia of YG’s “Who Shot Me” with Gucci’s giant persona. He can show fear and fearlessness. A true lion, one that will walk through a jungle knowing he is king and knowing his crown can be taken. Mike Will delivered magic. The beat sounds like it’s Harlem shaking.
12. "At Least a M"
Another Zaywill Madeoven beat. Another note, Gucci has not imitated a single rapper. He is 100% still Gucci. This is the hashtag anthem. I can see the Facebook statuses now. Gucci with the hilarious outro. Pure comedy. Another keeper.
A wild drummer boy appears. This was one of the few records that came out a few weeks ago that I didn’t like. It didn’t really hit as a solo song, but on the album it’s pretty strong. The way he harmonizes his words, it’s hilariously melodic. A rapper that knows he can’t sing but can still make a catchy melody will always have something that resembles a hit. Second verse flow, nasty. Will Complex do an article on how many times Gucci said Gucci on the album?
14. "Pick Up the Pieces (Outro)"
After going through all 14 songs, I must say, these Gucci beats are harder, his flow is colder than the ice he wears, and the music sounds good. Everybody Looking feels packaged as an album that caters to old fans and the new ears that have been infatuated with the mythical man. There’s some great one liners, good storytelling, and infectious ad-libs. At times it can feel a bit repetitive, Gucci doesn’t leave his comfort zone too often, but there’s also a lot of honest moments. Moments you can feel how the lifestyle of a trapper turned rapper has affected him.
Gucci has escaped his problems with drugs, he has served his time and removed himself from the cell, now he seems focused on enjoying the fruits of his labor and pointing a middle finger to everyone that doesn’t want to see him shine. Mike Will and Zaytoven handled most of the production and it’s a glorious trap combination. It feels like both producers knew the importance of giving Gucci only their best.
It’s far too soon to decide if this is a classic hip-hop album, and that isn't what a 1-Listen attempts to accomplish, but it feels wonderfully southern and embedded with the classic Gucci formula. If you've been waiting for Gucci to come back, he’s here, and sounding better than ever.
By Yoh, aka Yohtoven, aka @Yoh31.
Photo Credit: Facebook