When Gucci Mane opened for Lil Wayne at Vets Memorial in 2007, the Atlanta rapper was already in the process of rising to the top of the mixtape circuit with his rumbling, mumbling take on trap music. I wasn’t really tuned into that scene yet (I was stoked on Wayne because of Pitchfork), and my only knowledge of Gucci was “Freaky Girl,” the clumsy and obnoxious reworking of Rick James’ “Super Freak” I’d heard on Power 107.5.
Suffice it to say Gucci’s didn’t convert me. Without context, his set felt indistinguishable from the slew of boorish local crews that shuffled on and off stage as opening acts that night, only longer. Only later did his unique skill set begin to click for me. I wouldn’t have believed it then, but Gucci’s laid-back snarl is ripe with musical and lyrical subtleties that demand a close ear. Also, it knocks.
A lot has happened since then. Trap music ascended to new heights of cultural clout. Gucci pretty much took over rap for a while, then got locked up just in time to snuff out his momentum. His protégé Waka Flocka Flame has surpassed him in terms of both fame and acclaim.
But Gucci seems to be on the comeback trail. A new studio album, Living Legend, is due next year, and the Trap God mixtape, out this week, shows he can still compile top-notch beats and a slew of A-List guest stars — not to mention rap. He’ll probably have Long Street District packed out this Saturday too.