To begin the month of October, prolific Atlanta rap star Gucci Mane and Italian luxury brand Gucci announced their collaboration for the Gucci Cruise 2020 collection. To know Gucci Mane’s history—a long list of rap beef and incarnations—it’s unbelievable how the man born Radric Davis went from having an ice cream cone on his cheek to becoming the face of a Gucci campaign.
The Gucci Mane of yesteryears was a complicated person. A man troubled by court cases, drug addiction, and paranoia, while changing the landscape of trap music. For every step forward, Gucci experienced shortcomings that set him back. Fortunately, the 1017 rapper turned his life around in 2016 after ending his final prison bid.
Three years later, Gucci Mane is happier and healthier. Music, a lot of music, has followed his freedom. The consistent releases have been good, yet, he hasn’t delivered anything resembling a classic tape. Is it possible for Gucci Mane, at the height of his celebrity, to channel a positive lifestyle into timeless rap music?
That’s the question I ask before pressing play on Woptober II, Gucci’s second full-length album of 2019. Does Gucci Mane have anything left to say? Let’s find out. In usual 1-Listen fashion, the rules are the same: no skipping, no fast-forwarding, no rewinding, and no stopping. Each song will receive my gut reaction from start to finish. Wop!
1. “Richer Than Everybody” ft. DaBaby & YoungBoy Never Broke Again
This build-up isn’t grabbing me, and the drop didn’t shake the ground. “Fresh out, he thinkin' 'bout robbin' errybody.” I haven’t sat down with YoungBoy Never Broke Again. I can hear the Gucci influence in his style. Production-wise, this song feels like it could’ve been on a 2013 Gucci mixtape. There’s a vintage feel to it. Gucci on the second verse. He said to go to church and pray about being broke. I laughed. I wish it were that easy. Is he mentioning the Jeezy bounty? DaBaby! The verse isn’t bad, but this beat isn’t moving my soul. “Richer Than Everybody” is a good combination of rappers, but I wish the production were more dynamic.
2. “Big Booty” ft. Megan Thee Stallion
Guitar strums. Gucci is floating over this loop, but it’s a strange tempo for a strip club anthem. Even with the 2 Live Crew sample, the sound is cartoonish instead of infectious. Megan has arrived. I love her voice; it’s demanding. She could be a drill sergeant if rap doesn’t work out. I hope rappers call her for the cypher records and not just the twerk anthems. She is ripping this. Her flow and delivery alone knock her bars over the fence. I won’t be coming back to “Big Booty” either, though. Gucci falls short of inspiring any action other than skipping to the next song.
3. “Tootsies” ft. Lil Baby
I like “Tootsies.” The production is a bit more enthralling. “This dope will make you do the Kanye.” Man, that’s a wild bar. Gucci saying “opioid” in a rap tells me he’s been on social media a lot. Lil Baby! “You a supersaver.” I’m a big fan of this kid. He’s floating. “I was getting money before it was music.” This song could’ve been a Drip Harder collaboration. Where is Gunna? I’m not mad at Gucci here, but Gunna would launch this song into the sun. “So wealthy that my son rich;” inheritance rich is pretty rich. I’d come back for Baby, but I’m still waiting for Gucci to give me something. Where is the life?
4. “Big Boy Diamonds” ft. Kodak Black & London on da Track
A vocal sample and Kodak Black’s voice. Okay, we have something here. London on da Track should’ve produced this entire project. He was probably busy with Summer Walker. Kodak sounds good. The way his voice sounds over this soulful loop is a great contrast. Gucci is here. Now, this is what I’m talking about! “I done shot dice with my celly.” The Elvis bar. He’s in a good rhythm. “For Christmas, I want a stick for a present.” By far, his best verse on Woptober II. “I’m a burglar and a murderer, try me.” Kodak sounds like a kid. There’s no menace in his voice, but you still believe him.
5. “Came From Scratch” ft. Quavo
Let’s see if Gucci can find a groove. These keys are promising. Tay Keith tag! Man, I needed a much harder drop. There are some good ideas here. I like the energy behind Quavo’s hook, but essentially, “Came From Scratch” is a Migos record without Takeoff and Offset. Gucci’s second verse is stronger than his first. “My house so big I got lost.” I chuckled. Yeah, if the Migos made this record in 2015, it would be a smash. Gotta skip it.
6. “Move Me”
This beat is dirty! It’s a classical sample, I think. Why wasn’t this the intro? Everything about “Move Me” is what Gucci should be making. There’s aggression in his voice! The production is as dirty as a mechanic’s fingernail, and his delivery is sharp. He’s focused. The energy of a rapper who still cares about creating those classic Gucci records. “East Atlanta Santa and you all Santa elves.” I’m so mad how good this is. Who made this beat? And why isn’t he making all of Gucci’s beats? I wish the ghost of Eazy-E could place a sweet 16 on “Move Me.” Keeper.
7. "Bucking The System” ft. Kevin Gates
Don’t let me down, Gucci. Okay, Zaytoven tag. The build-up is great. The swing of this production and Gucci’s flow are a winning marriage. He found the ideal pocket and the perfect slur. Gucci’s voice has an excellent texture. He has to find that right tone over the right beat. Zay’s minimalism is so effective. Why wasn’t "Bucking The System” the single? It would’ve flopped on the radio, but the streets would’ve eaten it up. Kevin is water walking. I love that these two are on a record together. Kevin’s flow is disgusting. Did he call him a jellybean? Another keeper.
8. “Opps and Adversaries”
Some nice keys. Gucci sounds good. He has that early morning rasp. “You made the hood embarrassed but I made it legendary.” This is the Gucci Mane that I want to press play on. “Keep speaking down on Gucci Mane I'm going to cut out your tongue.” This isn’t the Gucci Mane that Gucci calls to be in a campaign, though. “I came up off of crumbs.” I didn’t need this second verse; he could’ve cut it. Cut off the second verse, and “Opps and Adversaries” would be one of the strongest records. Still, not bad. I will revisit it. Whoever gave this beat to Gucci needs to send him ten more.
9. “Highly Recommended”
Interesting change up. I like the horns. Not in love with “Highly Recommended” yet. The beat feels oddly bright. Gucci sounds like he’s being drowned out by the instrumental. The verse is good, but there’s no synergy between the artist and the production. Yeah, change the beat, and there’s something here. “I wrote the streets a ballad.” Not a bad song, just the wrong canvas for that painting. I’ll skip it.
10. “Wop Longway Takeoff” ft. Peewee Longway & Takeoff
Honorable C.N.O.T.E.! He’s a tag I look forward to hearing. The keys are dancing, and the drums are knocking. Gucci said something about pistol-whipping, lol. The bar about not bringing a condom, I shook my head, lol. The Vick bar. Peewee! He sounds right at home. Takeoff! Whoa, that switch out was smooth. The Peewee and Takeoff back-and-forth needed to be its song. They didn’t even get going!
11. “Last Night” ft. OJ da Juiceman & Yung Mal
Man, Gucci just let me down. I like what this production is doing, though. Zaytoven tag. I like this, I think. It’s different from everything on the album. I’d like to see Gucci switch it up more. Yung Mal? I can’t think of who he sounds like. Thug? Yeah, he sounds like a baby Thugger. So that means he sounds like Lil Keed and a hundred other Lils. Juiceman! I wish Zay gave him this beat; he’s floating. Juiceman could’ve been a star. Man, if it wasn’t for that XXL freestyle. Rewind for the beat and Juiceman.
12. “Time To Move”
Gucci Trapenstien. He’s doing this whispery delivery. He is not selling me. He just shouted out his lawyer, and that might be my favorite part of the entire album. The flow isn’t bad; it just doesn’t speak to me. What’s the word I’m looking for? When it doesn’t feel... natural? Gucci Mane loses me when it sounds like he’s trying to be “Gucci Mane.”
13. “Break Bread”
Last song. Let’s see how Gucci closes out. I like the vocal texture. He’s a bit higher than he’s sounded all album. The Fred Flintstone bar got a laugh out of me. I like “Break Bread” a lot. “Break Bread” is wealthy, healthy, happy Gucci talking his shit. The big boss Guwop. “I stumbled through London.” He needs to tap into this energy. It sounds easy, seamless. A Gucci Mane who has nothing to prove and wants you to know life is good.
Final (First Listen) Thoughts on Gucci Mane's Woptober II:
The Gucci Mane who begins Woptober II is a rich and successful street rapper that doesn’t have much to say. Sure, he can make it rain millions in the strip club, but he’s forgotten the joy of Magic City. Yes, he’s toppled every obstacle detouring him, but the brags on Woptober II fail to capture his inexhaustible spirit.
Not until track six, “Move Me,” does Gucci cease to be a character. On "Move Me," Gucci finds a voice worthy of capturing his essence. There are a handful of songs ("Bucking The System,” “Big Boy Diamonds,” “Opps and Adversaries”) where the Atlanta rapper doesn’t attempt to portray an image and speaks the truth that made him an icon. By cutting the fat, Woptober II could’ve been a strong EP instead of a mostly forgettable album.
Gucci Mane hasn’t lost his ability to be a great rapper, but he has gained a crisis of identity. Stuck continuously between the Guwop of legend and the Gucci Mane of classics, Woptober II belongs to the former and not the latter.
By Yoh, aka Yohtober, aka @Yoh31