Alex takes us through the latest record from established Atlanta artist Gucci Mane, which triumphs on the most part thanks to its complementary features and slick production.
2019 has been a huge year for the Atlanta trap legend Gucci Mane, releasing his third album in less than 12 months (the eighth since his release from prison in 2016) to immense success. Some may think it’s controversial to consider him a legend, but no trap artist has managed to stay at the top of the game for as long as Mane, having released his first single in 2005. He is an icon to the new icons of the trap game; after all, without him it’s arguable that Atlanta superstars such as Migos and 21 Savage wouldn’t even exist. Woptober II is packed full of his prodigies, and whilst it doesn’t reach the level of his fantastic and star studded 2017 release Mr. Davis, Mane has still put together a fun and mindless track list full of club bangers, only let down by the occasional bad feature and some uncreative flows.
Opening track Richer than Errybody features an ominous Halloween inspired trap beat produced by 808 Mafia co-founder Lex Luger, and it is quintessential Gucci Mane. However, unlike most Mane tracks, it isn’t him who dominates the track – instead Youngboy Never Broke Again and Suge star DaBaby deliver fast flowing verses which overshadow Mane’s relatively tame and slow bars. That’s not to say his verse is bad by any means; some extremely cold bars include ‘Feel like Obama when I move cause I keep soldiers round me’ and ‘gotta carry credit cards, my cash too big for britches’.
Mane’s a criminally underrated lyricist who is often put down by the media for the image he presents, something which is discussed on the track Opps and Adversaries (ft Cheeze Beats and Yung Lan). ‘Tattoos on my face, the media said it was dumb’, raps Mane, referring to the controversial ice cream cone face tattoo which he was much ridiculed for in 2011. Nowadays this is more commonplace; no one even blinks an eye when Lil Uzi Vert or Post Malone add to the growing collection on their face, pointing to the influence which Mane has had since his come up in the early 2000s. His legendary influence leads to some of the greatest parts on the album, as his children in the trap game work hard to impress him.
'Some may think it’s controversial to consider him a legend, but no trap artist has managed to stay at the top of the game for as long as Mane'.
Whilst the similarity of the artists he works with can often be a strength, as shown by Richer Than Errybody, unfortunately some of the Atlanta artists he chooses to work with are so similar that they add nothing to the track. This is most notable on the track Tootsies, featuring Lil Baby, (a discount Young Thug), who blatantly recycles flows from his 2019 feature on the ScHoolboy Q track Water. That was a great track, so it’s a shame that the recycle job here is done so poorly. Mane does his best to save the track with clever bars such as ‘This dope’ll make you do the Kanye, took so many opiates’, but ultimately the generic trap beat and Baby’s feature lead to a relative mediocrity.
Luckily, the pattern of bad features only continues into the next song Big Boy Diamonds, with the rest of the additions to Mane’s signature sound being pretty great. Sadly, we do have to discuss Kodak Black’s cringe-worthy contribution to Big Boy Diamonds. A few examples of his terrible lines include ‘I’m passin’ gas like I farted’, ‘boy, if you smelt it you dealt it’ and ‘shit on these n****s, I doo doo’. Kodak also ruined A Boogie Wit da Hoodie's 2017 chart topping single Drowning with similar bars – so much so that A Boogie removed his feature from the song’s music video.
'His legendary influence leads to some of the greatest parts on the album, as his children in the trap game work hard to impress him'.
In stark comparison to Kodak’s performance, Mane has put together an exciting list of features who sometimes out-rap him in places – a huge achievement. 2019 XXL Freshman Megan Thee Stallion's fast and charismatic flows complements the guitar-heavy J. White (Bodak Yellow) production and Mane’s catchy hook perfectly on the track Big Booty. Meanwhile, Quavo and Kevin Gates provide a nice autotuned switch up on the tracks Came from Scratch and Bucking the System respectively. Woptober II is full of top tier production courtesy of superstars such as Tay Keith, TM88 and London On Da Track; rarely is a track let down by a mediocre instrumental.
Despite solid beats and features, the best part of any Gucci Mane album should be Mane himself, and for the most part he does not disappointment. Solo tracks Highly Recommended and Move Me are two of the best on the album, as the former in particular features Mane really flexing his lyrical talents. Even rappers noted for their lyricism such as Denzel Curry and JID would be very happy with bars such as ‘I’m not talkin’ the weekend, but I’m talkin’ ‘bout Abel / You see this shit that Cain did, and they weren’t even strangers’.
There’s a reason Mane has been relevant for as long as he has been – he has a knack for writing funny and clever plays on words which also echo the deeply sad upbringing which he endured. Sure, he’s never going to viewed as a rapper in the same league as your Kendrick Lamars, Earl Sweatshirts and MF DOOMS, but that’s not the lane he covers. Woptober II is meant to be a fun trap project which functions as a love letter to the Atlanta rap scene, and for the most part it succeeds.