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Bend Don’t Break: Gucci Drops Everybody Looking

“It’s been tough to be a Gucci friend, a Gucci sibling, a Gucci girlfriend or a Gucci partner. I done took people through a lot, man.”
—Gucci Mane; New York Times

Ol’ Dirty Bastard wasn’t — by any means — the most lyrical rapper out there. In fact, much of his most revered material was [allegedly] written by Method Man and GZA. However, that doesn’t matter. That’s not why we loved ODB. He was a character, who had an undeniable charisma that exploded on records. That’s how I often feel about Gucci Mane; not to say, though, that Gucci doesn’t have bars. But, he’s a larger than life personality — mythical even — who’s been through one of the most storied emotional roller coaster rides in recent hip-hop history. Not unlike Britney, who very publicly had a meltdown, shaving her hair, Guop ‘lost his noodles,’ as Waka Flocka put it. He was burning bridges like a human torch, catching back to back cases and — most famously — getting the most regrettable face tattoo in the game. He also, though, shot and killed one of the assassins that attempted to murder him during a home invasion over a decade ago. That level of brazenness is enough to drive anyone more than a little bit over the edge.

This was, though, mostly due to his personal demons, which were drugs and alcohol. All the money and fame that the ‘Trap God’ has amassed from his high profile features and catalogue of bangers orchestrated by his day one producers was helping to fund his downward spiral. This was starting to take a toll on his career and his bodily frame. It [legit] looked like he was about to give birth to twins. In the infamous episode of Noisy’s ATL [hip-hop] documentary series, it’s famously noted that Guop consistently goes from jail to the studio — call it a tradition. Something was different this time, though. Gucci’s rock bottom (usually) seemed to crumble under him and reveal another dark drop to a rocker rock bottom. But his most recent stint in the box appeared to be his actual bottom. The result: we have a whole new Gucci Mane. Clean, focused, and ripped.

Last night he revealed Everybody Looking, a fifteen-track manifesto to his new found lease on life — and a subtle narcissistic salute to himself. He sounds fresh, sharper [lyrically] and oddly hungry/arrogant as he glides over soundscapes orchestrated by long-time collaborators Zaytoven and Mike Will. The title seems fitting, as all eyes have been on the trap god since he dropped his [quite literal] “First Day Out The Feds.” He’s released a handful of [the album’s] tracks previously, but as a cohesive listen, this album goes. The album only features three guests throughout, but they are from Kanye, Young Thug, and Drake — no biggie.

He admitted to the New York Times that he hadn’t been (this) sober since his teens, “I didn’t think I could make music sober; I didn’t think I could [enjoy] money sober.” Well, it’s a new day. This is far from the aggressive, violent Gucci we’d come to know — and on a certain level — appreciate. This is a new Gucci; one who’s easier to ride with, and one who seems poised to live up to the potential we all see in him. Listening to this album was [thematically like] listening to the late Tupac’s verse on the iconic “California Love.” As he states on the chorus to “First Day Out The Fed,” “I bend but don’t break, don’t ask I take.” Let’s hope the last decade has made him stronger.

Welcome back, Guop.

Riley About Author

Riley here — father, artist, videographer, professional writer and SERIOUS hip-hop head. I'm a member of the Universal Zulu Nation, and I think everything is better on vinyl. Add me on Twitter! @specialdesigns