Since his release from prison last year, Gucci Mane’s victory lap has been essential viewing. There’s been clone rumours, a public proposal to Keyshia Ka’Oir from courtside at the Atlanta Hawks game, a New York Times best-selling autobiography and a wedding that will be aired on BET. However, with a work ethic that has been focused on quantity of material (“I just kept force-feeding them over and over, and that’s what got me my cult-following,” he told us in our latest issue cover story), Gucci is yet to produce his magnum opus.
Ahead of its release, Gucci told us that his eleventh studio album ‘Mr. Davis’ is a time capsule, documenting the ups and downs of the past year and change, from travelling internationally for the first time, to the deaths of his father and peers like Shawty Lo and Bankroll Fresh. Gucci’s personal favourite of his discography, ‘Mr. Davis’ looked slated to be that career-defining album; the perfect insight into everything Gucci.
It starts off that way, with the ‘Work In Progress (Intro)’, in which he drops an abridged autobiography - going from “piss poor, sleeping on the dirt floor” to his post-prison rehabilitation - over Murda Beatz production. But unfortunately that reflective Gucci only appears in flashes throughout the feature-heavy track list.
As he dives into a slew of club-primed bangers, one of the most instantly noticeable element of ‘Mr. Davis’ is the weight of the beats. TM88, Nav, Key Wane, Metro Boomin and long-time collaborators Mike WiLL Made-It and Zaytoven provide a slew of heavy hitters that will blow out your speakers, and unsurprisingly it’s on Zaytoven’s productions that Gucci sounds most at home.
With the big beats come the big guest features, including Nicki Minaj, The Weeknd, Migos, A$AP Rocky, Big Sean and Ty Dolla $ign. So much talent is always going to shine through – and ‘Mr. Davis’ high profile guest selection often overbears Gucci’s own voice and direction. However, at times the collaborative spirit really works: ‘Lil Story’ featuring ScHoolboy Q is a “hard in the paint” street single while ‘We Ride’ featuring Monica has the sheen and accessibility of a radio single without taking away from Gucci’s trademark cold delivery.
At 17 tracks in length, there are inevitably some lower points: ‘Money Make Ya Handsome’ is as bitter as any of pre-prison Gucci’s output, albeit a little more self-aware – “All my bitches love me, they love me for one thing / Money keep her coming, so I'mma keep some money,” sees Gucci playing sugar daddy. While the Chris Brown-assisted lead single ‘Tone It Down’ plays out like a pound shop recreation of Drake’s ‘Portland’.
Like the majority of Gucci’s major label albums, ‘Mr. Davis’ is a rollercoaster ride of peaks and troughs, unfortunately not quite living up to the definitive record that it’s billed to be. However, with another album just around the corner - Gucci is already shouting about ‘El Gato The Human Glacier’ - there is plenty of time for Guwop to build upon the formula that already has him winning.
Words: Matthew Cooper
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