Review Summary: Gucci Mane's a murderer, you sure you wanna marry him?
Gucci Mane’s post-jail rap career has been quite busy, to say the least. 2016 and 2017 were incredibly busy years for the Atlanta rapper, with him releasing plenty of full-lengths, EPs, and singles in that time frame. This isn’t new for Guwop, as a cursory look through any database of his music will show that he’s put out tons of releases out since 2005 with quality ranging from forward-thinking and fiery to underwhelming and uninspired. Definitely an artist of peaks and valleys, it seemed like exhaustion was getting to Gucci’s work in 2017 - the quality drop between DropTopWop
and Mr. Davis
wasn’t hard to notice for many listeners. Continued with the extremely average El Gato: THe Human Glacier
and extremely inadvisable features on songs from artists like Chris Brown and Jake Paul, it was painfully obvious that Gucci was losing steam and hemorrhaging credibility.
An important thing to keep in mind is that Gucci still has a sense of self-awareness when it comes to his releases. As a response to the generally lukewarm reception, he decided to spend the majority of 2018 working on one
full-length project. This album, titled Evil Genius
was to be the LP that proves that, despite what we saw on in the second half of 2017, Gucci hasn’t gone soft.
Upon release, it’s safe to say Evil Genius
succeeded in reselling us the same man that made The State Vs. Radric Davis
and Everybody Looking
. Sporting a star-studded list of producers (Honorable C.N.O.T.E., Metro Boomin, Murda Beatz, Earl the Pearll, etc.) and features (Lil Pump, 21 Savage, Kodak Black, Migos, Kevin Gates, Bruno Mars, ect.), this full length has a considerable amount of meat to it, containing 50 minutes of dark, lively bangers. From “Off the Boat’ to “Kept Back,” it’s plain to see that that this break brought back a lot of his bite and wordplay, with his patented brand of braggadocios punchlines (take a peek at the humorous similes on “Outta Proportion” and the clever setup-punchline bars on “Bipolar”) back in action with the charisma that drew people in. This reinvigorated energy is clear in the way Guwop works with his features, from the repeat collaborator Quavo to the newer Lil Skies, trading bar for bar with emcees giving their all to keep up with the Mane.
Gucci’s ear for beats has benefited from the long break as well, as each song here features a hard hitting backing track that feels unique on the record but still fits the thematic cohesion of the album. You’ve got bassy, party-ready cuts like “Hard Feelings” and “Father’s Day,” you’ve got sinister, synthy tracks like “Just Like It” and “This the Night,” and (relatively) brighter, single friendly choices like “Kept Back,” “Wake Up in the Sky,” the album’s biggest hit, and “Solitaire.” These all make effective use of samples and sharp, punchy 808 drums, which is a style containing the fluidity needed to keep the tracklist diverse.
It’s impressive to see Gucci Mane return to form on a record as strong as Evil Genius
. Unlike many contemporaries that have been around for as long as Guwop, it seems that Gucci took the criticism to heart and re-evaluated the way he creates records. That, in it of itself, is incredibly respectable and shows that he still gives a shit about his output. It of course helps that the fruit of that labor is this thoroughly visceral and gratifying. In other words: La Flare is fuckin’ back.