One year removed from incarceration, the Trap God is back near the top of his game.
When Gucci Mane walked out of the Terre Haute Federal Correctional Complex on May 26th, 2016, the Atlanta legend was a man transformed. Svelte, sober, and committed to resuming his prolific output, he immediately got to work, recording his first post-prison release, Everybody Looking in just six days. While Gucci's return to the rap landscape was graciously welcomed by fans, Everybody Looking was an up-and-down project that felt a bit rushed - the product of an artist hungry to get back to form. To fans, however, the cohesiveness of that album was inconsequential - the flashes of 2009-era Gucci were there, and he seemed happy and healthy, well-positioned to re-cement his lofty place in the rap hierarchy.
One year later, Gucci Mane has marked the anniversary of his freedom by releasing Droptopwop, a taut, ten-track mixtape executive produced by Metro Boomin. The tape's concise, compact nature (it only runs about 38 minutes) is a refreshing change of pace from the exhausting trend of 19- or 20-track projects designed to chase streaming numbers, and it effectively showcases a Gucci re-approaching the pinnacle of his game.
With Metro Boomin helming the bulk of the tape's production, Droptopwop quickly reminds us why the producer became a household name during Gucci Mane's stay the feds. The project starts off with "5 Million Intro" (co-produced by Southside), a 4-minute long, synth-heavy slapper that finds Gucci reminding you how rich he is no uncertain terms: "If that bitch ain't gettin' no money then that bitch in the way / I'm Gucci Mane La Flare I make 5 Million a day." Segueing into "Tho Freestyle", a quick-hitting 3-minute track with a bouncy, 8-bit-video-game-sounding loop, Gucci combines self-awareness for his current iteration with the type of writing that catapulted him to stardom in the first place: "People say they cloned me because I changed my ways, though / I fly the dope in on a drone for the pesos / All about the bucks bro, but this ain't Tampa Bay, though / I'm a livin' legend, I do magic with the Draco."
While the blistering "Hurt A Nigga Feelings" continues Gucci's effective streak of telling you just how broke you are, "Helpless" taps into one of the Trap God's many other strengths - tightly-crafted love songs. Vividly detailing a woman with a strangle-like hold on him, Gucci Mane laments, "The way she put that pussy on me, I feel helpless / And I want that pussy to myself, I'm selfish / Say she want a nigga like me that's wealthy / Try to stay away from her but I can't help it."
One of the true highlights of Droptopwop is "Met Gala," a hulking track by Metro Boomin and Southside, featuring Offset - who you may know as one of the hottest rappers on Earth at the moment. The Migos man delivers a verse that will likely go down as one of the best of the year, and a quick-spitting Gucci returns serve with aplomb: "I could care less 'bout the bloggers, boy / 80K stuffed in my joggers, boy."
"Dance With The Devil" is the darkest offering on an album without a lot of sunny moments, and it finds Gucci reflecting on his drug dealing background with an unflinching honesty. It's worth noting that the cover art for Droptopwop appears to be an homage to Clipse's "Lord Willin'" - an album that grimly details the come-up from narcotics and the human price paid for material rewards - and Gucci echoes many of the same sentiments the brothers Thornton did 15 years ago.
"Both Eyes Closed" calls in the services of Young Dolph and 2 Chainz, the latter of which goes off as we've become accustomed to with a memorable line about selling his college student cousin some Adderall. Gucci more than holds his own over a booming beat co-produced by London On Da Track, letting you know that "I ain't Blake Griffin, I don't drive no Kia / If it ain't 10 mil, I can't sign no deal."
Droptopwop closes out with "Loss 4 Wrdz," which pairs Gucci with the bawse Rick Ross himself - a rapper who's quietly made for one of the better partners to the Trap God over the years. This track, unfortunately, is no "MC Hammer," and it's a forgettable way to close out a tape that's pretty consistent from front to back.
With a year of freedom under his belt, Gucci Mane's five projects released during that time have depicted an artist re-discovering himself. Among the flashes of brilliance, and the scattering of misses, was a man who did a complete 180 on his life, finding his footing in a staggering volume of work along the way. While the 2009 Gucci will likely remain relegated to the past, his 2017 incarnation seems poised for a different, but promising run. If Droptopwop is an indicator of what's to come, the Trap God's second act could prove just as interesting as his first.