Before we dive into Gucci Mane’s second mixtape in as many weeks, let’s take a quick look at just how much good Gucci has done for the world this year: there’s the way he pronounced Kevin Durant on “Good Drank” (or made bullets “tap dance” on Kodak Black’s “Vibin in this Bih”); “First Day Out Tha Feds” is a classic; the reunion on “Guwop Home” made my inner Young Thug stan weep. Beyond the music, his “get out the vote” call to action and PSAs regarding drug abuse and rehabilitation feel important and couldn’t be coming from a more credible source. And remember how he proposed to Keyshia at the Hawks game? That was so damn romantic. All that to say that with a year as picture perfect as his, there was bound to be a blemish eventually.
Where his recent Free Bricks revival with Future sounded organic, despite have been conceptualized, conceived and released in under 24 hours, 1017 vs. The World feels stitched together in a way even the makeshift tapes with the likes of Thug or Young Dolph, released while he was incarcerated, never felt. Or, rather, even when those aforementioned tapes felt haphazard, there was enough natural chemistry between the parties to keep the ball rolling. Even at just twenty-one minutes, the pairing of Gucci and Philly’s perpetually happy-go-lucky rapper-cum-crooner, Lil Uzi Vert, both charismatic personalities when left to their own devices, feels forced and stale. Hendrix and the Trap God were clearly cooking up ideas in the same room, breathing life to visceral anthems. I doubt Uzi and Gucci were even in the same time zone when they emailed each other their verses.
Through their brooding beats, Zaytoven, Southside & Metro Boomin’ created an ideal backdrop for Gucci’s spry rhyming and Future’s unfiltered experimentation. It avoided any of the implicit pitfalls of a five year hiatus because it was built on a tried and tested formula. Conversely, the pairing of Uzi and Gucci is a new concept and some of these resulting tracks play just like that, an unformed idea: “Today!!” is a brief two minute number that only teases Gucci by way of ad-libs. Transitions between these half-baked tracks are often as abrupt as the passing of the baton for the verses they contain. Sometimes it’s Uzi who fails to adapt to Gucci’s aesthetic, as seen on the plodding “Blonde Briggite,” the sole track produced by Mannie Fresh, and sometimes, like on the closer, “Secure the Bag,” the blame shifts to Gucci, who can’t seem to keep up pace with Uzi’s ADHD flow.
Production is varied, with appearances from the only other OG who has worked harder than Gucci this year, Zaytoven, as well as Da Honorable C.N.O.T.E, Chief Keef affiliate DP Beats and a lesser known act from Uzi’s camp, GloHan Beats. C Note and Zaytoven do the best job at creating common ground for these rappers but even then, not all the beats are fully utilized. “Fresh” sees Gucci delivering a notable hook but a lackluster verse and, as mentioned, “Today!!” is a wasted premise. That leaves the intro, “Charged My Phone,” and the ode to the ménage à trois, “Threesome,” which are admittedly two of the more fully formed tracks on here. Props to Uzi for bragging about being a pescetarian while still ordering his homies steaks.
Despite the scatterbrained execution of it all, there are still a few redeeming qualities here and there, especially if you look the rappers’ verses in a vacuum. Gucci revives a classic flow as he name drops jazz vocalist Minnie Ripperton and Public Enemy’s “Miuzi Weighs a Ton” in the same breath on the “Blonde Brigitte.” Uzi, finally waking up for the last two tracks, delivers an equal parts exhilarating and silly verse on “In ‘04,” followed by a catchy refrain for the closer, properly highlighting the uniqueness he brings to the table. The former track, produced by DP Beats, while fleeting, only featuring a refrain from Gucci, is the most interesting song on the project.
Both Uzi and Gucci are having an undeniable year in their own right, but the forward momentum was not enough to carry them through this project. From the careless sequencing to the cut-and-pasted verses over ill-fitting beats, the entire project reeks of a missed opportunity. A bridge between the mythologized Trap God that is Gucci Mane and his slew of loyal disciples is definitely necessary, but an entire project with Lil Uzi Vert may not be answer. There’s enough of a spark here to have hope for a good song to eventually come from these two, should they chose to get in the studio together and work on their rapport, but it feels even less necessary now than ever before. Uzi’s rapid fire melodies could’ve played as the foil to Gucci’s more nuanced storytelling, but the two instead seem to inhabit divergent spaces stylistically. Here’s to hoping Gucci finds a more compatible partner for his next tape, or, you know, slows down and takes a well deserved honeymoon with his wife-to-be.