Review Summary: Life beyond bars.
Have you ever known the feeling of finally being liberated? You could ask Atlanta rapper and mogul Gucci Mane about that, finally knowing it and experiencing it these days. In this day and age, prison never ceases to be an alternating life experience for the hip-hop industry and its unlucky choosers who get themselves immersed into its hard-knock, harsh premises and unforgiving lifestyle. No matter the length of the sentence, it's taken a changing formality musically amongst the many prominent risk-takers who boded themselves into it, like it currently is with "WAVES" founder Max B (I.e the "Silver Surfer") serving a 75-year sentence for capital murder, or with the recent case of what occurred to Gucci Mane. For him, it was the lifestyle to get incarcerated, it's what began his career in the first place in sheer controversy: being accused of murder himself 11 years ago of killing an associate of Young Jeezy, and then afterwards going on and out of bars for the next decade plus which would vary in shortened prison sentences and fixating success. 2014 would end up being the ultimate "wake-up call", taking two years in jail for illegal firearm possession by a felon and returning to the clanky life of being in a cell, going outside for a couple hours for fresh air, the theory that he was killed in prison and "cloned by the government", and otherwise awkward circumstances. Now, out of the penitentiary three months early, Gucci sees the opportunity of everyone's eye on him post-prison as a chance to return to the spotlight with a much-needed, critical comeback. It was cemented with his quick release, the bouncy "1st Day Out Of Tha Feds" that spoke out his true optimism of finally being free from the restrictive chokehold of the Feds. His ascending, damning comeback "Everybody Looking" serves as the epitome of the after-effects of his lengthy incarceration, and the elegant return to the glitz and bling of success. Man, did prison-life change him for the better.
While Gucci was incarcerated, the Atlanta hip-hop scene curated through furiously with the "trap-rap" movement that sparkled under the direction of Gucci himself. Many local rappers and associates took under wing Gucci's banging, but chill sound. But as he said vigorously in G.O.O.D MUSIC's latest banger, the uplifting, confident "Champions", "it's over for you Gucci clones" and he shutters those who plagiarized his style in sheer, killing form in his raw, "f**k you, I'm back" comeback. He immediately stomps in alongside deathly, grandiose synths and stringy, clanky bass in the personal, vengeful "No Sleep (Intro)", which is deemed his ultimate "f**k you" to those who sent him packing to prison in the first place and embracing the past self that he was. Invigorated by hilarious, but true lines that he springs like "f**k the Feds, f**k the police, f**k the DEA", his blunt honesty enforces the fact that he doesn't like their sorry asses for attempting to lock him in for much longer than the two years Gucci received (apparently 20-30 years was their intention, according to him), and that he doesn't regret the risky, bombarding path he took to stardom. However much hatred he has for the federal enforcers, it's obviously embodied a change within him to get clean, fit up, and be eternally grateful he's gotten a chance at redemption to get on track. That is embraced in the celebratory anthem "Back On Road" with former rival, but rap icon Drake, a haunting synth-fest that serves as a warning to the abandoners who didn't support Gucci during his restricted incarceration behind bars. Custom-fitted and blinked with lines like "it's like I'm battling with myself/I done shook up my demons/now I'm back to myself", he's realizing the only thing holding him back was himself, which was what got him in the absolute sh*thole he was in in years past, and now with those "inner demons" gone he can get back on track truly. What we're getting is a new and improved Gucci, voided from the troubles of his past and now fresh out of it better than before, you can't help but be proud of the guy for overcoming it all.
The relaxation that Gucci is finally getting for his terrible confinement from prison is quite prominent, obviously evident from his chilly, stress-free tone that he laces throughout his gritty, varied return. It's been returned with atrocious, outraged responses that have called him out for, with the typical lame phrase, "being soft" or that this is nothing like we have seen from him. It's true we haven't, but in his eyes he doesn't really give a crap what you think and why should we anyway? It's working well to his advantage! Better yet, as showcased vastly inside the darkening, chilling highlight "P***y Print" featuring another rap icon with Kanye West, he calls out the "retarded" haters for thinking that change isn't good, because it is, and that you need to embrace or else. Underneath woozy, mind-inducing synths and piercing bass, and defining lines like "and I only featured Kanye/cause we both some f***'n narcissists", Gucci reiterates for the umpteenth time that his uniqueness and desire to alternate himself doesn't give anyone a right to call him out for his changes. Change is good, deal with it! That is the christening definitive that comes away from his deadly return "Everybody Looking", with the whole hip-hop world locking their eyes down on him as he finally returns to a life beyond the prison cell and comes away changed and enlightened for the future to come, but to also never forget his past and to be reminded such of it. It shows absolutely in his smooth, gritty tone and dedicated, heavily localized production that's laced in terror and glamour, as he is taking back what he claims to be his stage atop the podium of Atlanta's finest but also his high standing amongst the general hip-hop royalty. Did prison truly change him for the better is an absolute understatement. The throne is yours for the taking Gucci, you're welcomed back to take it.