Release Date: Jul 22, 2016
Record label: Atlantic
After three years behind bars, Atlanta rapper Gucci Mane emerged to a scene that had transformed in his absence. With the mainstreaming of trap music and the rise of mushy-mouthed lyrical slurring, he needed to remind the world of his presence. On Everybody Looking, Gucci Mane reasserted his position as a pioneer of the subgenre. Newly sober and slimmed down, Gucci purged years of pent-up emotion over 14 hungry tracks, which were recorded in less than a week.
The rest of ‘Everybody Looking’ is set aside for Gucci and his confessional sermons. ‘No Sleep (Intro)’ is a revealing autobiographical tale about his struggle to get off booze and drugs, while ‘Pop Music’ takes on his detractors (although given the nature of his most recent conviction, lines such as “Fuck all that rap beef, let’s have a gun battle” may be a little short-sighted). ‘Robbed’, meanwhile, demonstrates some self-deprecation that refreshingly cuts into that braggadocio: “I reminisce about the day I got robbed / Ain’t ashamed to say I got robbed”.
“I got the best intentions but I made rash decisions,” Gucci Mane raps on “No Sleep (Intro),” an unflinching, autobiographical look at how southern rap’s most beloved mushmouth nearly derailed his life. But Gucci, born Radric Davis, is back now, fresh off a two-year jail stint, looking and sounding like a million bucks. Though the Atlanta rapper’s new offering, Everybody Looking, is his ninth proper album, in many ways it feels like a recalibration of Gucci’s mission statement as an artist.
If this Gucci Mane is a clone it’s only because he’s been unstoppable since his return: he’s only been out for two months, during which time he’s also been on house arrest, yet he’s already worked with everyone from Kanye West and Justin Bieber to Kodak Black and Dreezy. Everybody Looking, his first official album since his incarceration in 2013 for possession of a firearm by a felon, came with seven music videos (and counting). He’s not a clone though — this is the same man who made over $1 million while incarcerated.
After a Twitter “meltdown” for the books, Gucci Mane violated probation and went to jail in 2013 persona non grata. In May, he emerged as if from a chrysalis, healthy, clean, and sober. He was greeted with acclaim that, while not as intense as his fever-hot peak in 2009, suggested a much broader cultural consensus about his music. One hopes it’s because the world finally caught up with the creative breadth of his work, but more likely it’s because they’ve recognized that work's consequences.
After spending a few years in prison, it didn’t take long for Gucci Mane to return to the studio. His first album since his three-year stint, Everybody Looking, only took about a month after his release to drop. But then again, Guwop wasn’t exactly silent in his years behind bars, releasing mixtapes by the dozens. The previously recorded material was paired with fresh production and collaborators and then pushed onto the Internet to keep the Gucci Mane name in the public eye.
Guwop’s home. And after serving three years in a maximum-security prison, it looks like for now at least he’s staying home. Gucci Mane seems to be in a better place both physically and mentally and Everybody Looking reflects those transformations: a leaner, more coherent and more stable Gucci mirrors a leaner, more coherent and more stable body of work.
Throughout the last decade, Gucci Mane has been the wild card of Atlanta rap. His flow was a giddy, stream-of-consciousness spill of internal rhymes, sing-song melodies as playful as jump-rope chants and unpredictable imagery ("Gucci Mane crazy I might pull up on a zebra/Land on top a eagle, smokin' a joint of reefer," he rapped on 2010's "Gucci Time"). Rapping in a throaty growl over spacious, synth-heavy beats, he became trap-rap's absurdist Id, influencing Future, Migos and countless others while remaking Southern hip-hop in his own funhouse image.
He’s out of prison and has a new trim look, but Gucci Mane is still doing what he does best: making trap music. He’s paired up with two of his favourite producers, Mike Will Made It and Zaytoven, and calls in cameos from Drake (Back on Road), Kanye West (P**** Print) and Young Thug (Guwop Home). He positions himself as the Don Corleone of trap on All My Children, where he declares that all rappers are his progeny – but despite its interesting premise, that track and Out Do Ya are among the weaker efforts on an album that was put together since Gucci’s release in May.
Gucci Mane :: Everybody LookingGuwop/Atlantic RecordsAuthor: Michael G. BarilleauxIt happened. Gucci Mane was recently released from prison after three long years. Trap fans are jumping for joy, rappers are paying homage (possibly out of fear) and the internet is in a complete and utter frenzy. And ….
After five years of mixtapes from behind bars, Gucci Mane should have returned from jail to rule a world that has fallen hard for his signature sound. Sadly, this hastily cut album lacks the ambition to challenge reigning trap kings like fellow Atlantan Future or mini-me Desiigner. The eerie emotional electricity and forensic detail of the single 1st Day Out Tha Feds dissipates across 14 songs that desperately lack variety and humour, and choruses that aren’t just Gucci grimly repeating the song’s title.
Jail time is never good for a rapper’s career. Even though the dangerous, crime-riddled lifestyle some artists have experienced can be turned into some pretty superior rap music, when it’s time to pay the piper for said crimes, it’s always hard to bounce back. However, Gucci Mane, looks to break that trend with his best project thus far, a full 15-track album titled Everybody Looking.
Something felt strange about the welcome home parade the Internet threw for Gucci Mane upon his early release from federal prison in May. Before Gucci went in, he wasn’t a hero — he was a walking dumpster fire. His mainstream hits seemed like a lifetime ago. His relationship with Atlantic Records was on the rocks.