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A Post About Gucci Mane.

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Sometimes, just because you got enthusiasm for the Willy Wonka boom-bap blip of “We Gotem” or the blissed-out kinda glory of “Stunt” or the entire Gucci Land mixtape you physically bought in a store a few weeks ago in Baltimore, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t just concede to someone who’s said it better. But then, Dantheman’s video (or half a video) for “I’m Back Bitch” shows-up and it’s Gucci rapping gloriously, looking glorious-er, but a little desolate and sad (car in an empty Big Lots parking lot type sad) and it’s hard to keep quiet.

Even this point’s been made already–that’s how immediate the Gucci love is–but it’s worth repeating that a Black Eyed Peas track made to cash-in on the quasi-Clubish, retro-futurism hip-hop & B production trends of the past year or so, and the swagger boys’ infinite “shittin on you”-type rap lines at the same time, like that flips itself into a Zaytoven approximation so Gucci can laconically rhyme around it is a sign of Gucci’s impending takeover.

But it won’t be the ubiquitous takeover Lil Wayne’s committed the past few years, where it’s a mix of eager-to-please guest spots and all-over-the-place mixtape joints because Gucci’s nothing if not consistent. Wayne’s ascent was fun in a way that the internet was fun a few years ago, when “Web 2.0″ was all cool and interactive (oh, 2006, so far away) and not just this thing that crushed your Google Reader and Inbox and we could all mix and match our favorite Wayne verses and put them on CDs for friends. Gucci’s all take-it-or-leave-it oppressive; there aren’t entry-level Gucci Mane songs the way say, “Dough Is What I Got” could be sold to anybody with a vaguely open mind towards hip-hop.

His power as a rapper comes from the build-up of songs and verses. The excitement and joy of rapping all the time on hundreds of tracks doesn’t have to be super-explicit–that he’s doing it is enough–or even joyful and so, there aren’t really highlights or let’s just say, there aren’t these like inarguable stand-outs. Gucci’s putting the same effort forward all the time and he’s mining the same territory, twirling the same ideas and jokes and threats around and around sometimes falling on something deeper or heavier but when he does, it’s in the same wizened jokey drawl. He’s having fun and if you want to join in go ahead, he doesn’t seem to really care but you get the sense that inside, he really cares.

Unlike those easier-to-write-about rappers, Gucci Mane doesn’t “suddenly” get all personal or “deep” and he never sounds like he’s trying to get all “weird” and “next-level” either–he’s pretty much doing the same thing on whatever’s sent his way and it ends up as some weird mix of absurd creativity and worker-bee, head-down, move-forward rapping.

There’s a quieter, more modest sense of style and if you must say it, swagger too. This is why in many ways he’s been met with even more opposition and downright denial that he’s a significant figure in rap: He upsets your expectations of a rapper and rap star by being ordinarily irregular. He revels in the minor joys of self-expression, like your your accountant wearing NIKEs or the guy at Sheetz with a big-ass earring or your redneck neighbor with those truck balls.

In “I’m Back Bitch”, he’s basically rocking shades you could buy from American Apparel, matching shoes, tracksuit, and cycling hat, and shit-ton of gold–it’s both crazy over-the-top and really kinda understated. It’s like out-there, out-there the same way his signature Bart Simpson chain is out-there. That shit’s not cool and it’s unprecedented too. Gucci thought of this stuff, he’s not playing rock star or dressing like he’s in TRON because that’s what’s cool this year. He’s not exactly concerned with the outside world all that much.

And what better way to represent Gucci’s disinterest in the world than to stick an iced-out Gucci Mane in a tour van in the middle of an empty parking lot rapping to a hand-held camera as his buddies smoke and fart around on a laptop around him? Director Dantheman’s perhaps best known for Prodigy’s “Mac 10 Handle” video and in a lot of ways, “I’m Back Bitch” is as just as isolated and dark, just not so obvious about it. This is the plurality of emotions, the pleasure and pain, and all that, hip-hop does best.

Prodigy revels in his paranoia and self-destruction, while Gucci just sort of stiff-upper lips it and keeps on going. All Gucci’s descriptors, a laundry-list of what’s around him, what he’s gotta do, and how much he’s going to sell, extend only as far as his backyard (where he keeps “a couple” old-school Impalas), which is a little broader than the “four corners” of Prodigy’s room but not by much.

That this is the parking lot of a Big Lots should resonate with a whole bunch of people much the same way Asher Roth’s references to “Thirsty Thursdays” have caught-on. Trapping at a gas station, asking people to “meet [him] by the checkers”, and rapping in a tour bus in an empty parking lot at like, 3am, and proudly tossing-off another gumptious rap that’s implicitly–and only implicitly–celebrating his release from prison is everything great about Gucci Mane wrapped-up in under two minutes.

Written by Brandon

April 29th, 2009 at 6:45 am

Posted in Gucci Mane

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