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Gucci Mane's Post-Prison Projects, Ranked: Critic's Take

Gucci Mane
Tim Warner/Getty Images for Spotify

Gucci Mane performs onstage during Spotify's RapCaviar Live in Houston at Revention Music Center on Dec. 14, 2017 in Houston, Texas. 

Since his release from prison in May 2016, Gucci Mane has had one of the more spectacular glow-ups in recent memory. First, he went through an impressive physical transformation, shedding excess weight off his body. Then, for the first time in his career, he topped the Billboard Hot 100 as a featured guest on Rae Sremmurd’s “Black Beatles” in November 2016. 

Let's not forget to mention that he also became a bestselling author, courtesy of his newly released book titled, The Autobiography of Gucci Mane. His proverbial cherry on top? Marrying his long-time girlfriend Keyshia Ka’oir in October 2017.

The most awe-inspiring feat from Gucci, however, was his prolific run in the span of a year and seven months. With eight projects comprised of albums and mixtapes, his tireless work ethic made his two-year stint in prison a distant memory. With the release of his new project El Gato: The Human Glacier, Gucci Mane’s resurgence is as hot as it’s ever been. Let’s take a look at each project and see where they rank on Billboard’s list below.

8. 1017 vs. The World (November 2016)

Gucci Mane made it known that he’s a fan of some of the younger artists in hip-hop today and revealed his desire to work with a few of them. His project 1017 vs.The World finds him collaborating with hip-hop rock star Lil Uzi Vert. It’s an interesting pairing as Uzi Vert’s electric free spirit collides with Gucci Mane’s traditional trap heavy style.

Sadly, there’s no chemistry between the two rappers as you can sense the generational gap between them. For example, on “Blonde Briggite” Uzi couldn’t match up to Gucci’s artistry while Gucci feels out of place on “Today” and “Secure the Bag.” It’s commendable for Gucci to want to work with sounds different from his own, but the missteps are far too great to overcome on the this ambitious attempt.

7. Free Bricks 2: Zone 6 Edition (November 2016)

Free Bricks 2: Zone 6 Edition is the sequel to Gucci Mane and Future’s 2011 project Free Bricks. Though the EP arrived and departed unexpectedly, the project is a solid entry for both artists. There's something about the Gucci-Future pairing that’s alluring. “Die a Gangsta," “Kinda Dope" and “Selling Heroin" just to name a few, are gems. With so much going for the EP, how did it land at number seven? It just felt incomplete.

According to Gucci, the EP was recorded in less than 24 hours. With the work ethic and lyrical abilities of both artists, this should have been a homerun project. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case as the production was all over the place and Gucci struggled to find his footing throughout the EP. Compared to both artists discographies, this entry would easily get lost in the shuffle.

6. Everybody Looking (July 2016)

Serving as the first project since his prison release in May 2016, Everybody Looking was a good start to Gucci Mane’s resurgence in hip-hop. Everybody Looking debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and became Gucci’s highest charting album to date. The album features Drake, Young Thug, and Kanye West with production by Zaytoven, Mike WiLL Made-It, and more.

The album is a dark, spacey project that finds Gucci trying to reassert his standing within the rap game. Gucci, along with executive producers Mike WiLL Made It and Zaytoven, paints the vibrant picture of Gucci’s return accompanied by the brooding stories of drug addiction, time in prison, and his cultural impact.

Despite having several bright spots including “All My Children, “Robbed,” and “Waybach,” the glaring issue is the album’s predictability. The marquee appearances fall flat, leaving Gucci to take less risks on his long-awaited comeback album. With so much that’s changed in Gucci’s life, one would expect him to reflect that on his first project since leaving prison. Fortunately, fans were able to find that version of Guwop later on through his next few releases.

5. Woptober (October 2016)

Woptober is the vintage Gucci aesthetic that people missed while he was away in prison. The cold and gloomy mixtape is complimented by the bass heavy production of Zaytoven, Southside, and more. Gucci feels right at home on the project, sounding lively, thanks to his sobriety, but grimy at the same time.

Gucci’s locked-in demeanor is showcased on “Intro: Fuck 12” and “Dirty Lil’ N---a,” with the rest of the mixtape following suit. While Woptober takes listeners back to the dirty, rough style that Gucci ran with before his time in prison, he appears more observant in contrast to his past.

What holds Woptober back from being a standout project since Guwop’s release is, at times, his laziness. Young Dolph completely overpowers him on “Bling Blaww Burr” and Gucci barely sounds interested on “Icy Lil Bitch.” Apart from the excellent “Addicted,” Woptober plods towards the finish line at the end of the mixtape.

Despite the sluggish end, it doesn’t feel like you’re forcing yourself to finish the project. Gucci Mane is stepping into his role as the narrative elder of the trap by taking the old Gucci content of drugs and violence and incorporating it to his new perspective on life. Once he’s able to fluidly connect the two, listeners will be in for something special.

4. The Return of East Atlanta Santa (December 2016)

The third entry into Gucci’s East Atlanta Santa series features Guwop learning from his errant mistakes from his previous projects Everybody Looking and Woptober. The album leans on Gucci’s playful side as you can really hear how comfortable he is with his new post-prison lifestyle.

His voice is as clear as ever as opposed to Gucci’s slurred, congested flow of the past. Right from the start, Gucci finds his spot on the Jingle Bells-inspired opener, “St. Brick Intro” and it continues with “I Can’t” and “Walk On Water.” Gucci outshines Drake and Travis Scott on “Both” and “Last Time,” respectively, and showcases how polished and engaging his lyrics are now. Gucci also balances a variety of beats on the album, something he tried previously, but couldn’t really get a hold of.

Although the album was a fitting end to Gucci’s homecoming year in 2016, it still feels like Gucci could have given us more. The placement of certain songs is uneven while Bryson Tiller and Drake deliver mediocre features that show Gucci's struggle to find artists that meet his needs in terms of building long-lasting records. 

3. El Gato: The Human Glacier (December 2017)

Gucci Mane is starting to have a penchant for closing out the year with excellent projects. 2016 saw The Return of East Atlanta Santa and 2017 is no different. El Gato: The Human Glacier features Gucci teaming up with longtime producer Southside to deliver a project that had his day one fans clamoring for more. .

Southside showcases Gucci with 11 ominous, chilling instrumentals that makes the project feel vintage and consistent. If anything, it’s the ideal “return to the streets” type of album. “Rich Ass Junkie,” “Peepin Out the Blinds" and “Dickriders” are just some of the examples of the magic Guwop and Southside can muster up together.

Clocking in at a little over 30 minutes, the project is one of Gucci’s shortest projects and that’s not a terrible thing. A short album means the content gets straight to the point and that’s exactly what we have here. Gucci wastes no time letting his braggadocios street raps shine bright on the project. There are a few introspective tales such as “Smiling in The Drought” and “Southside and Guwop," but that’s what hurts this album. It leaves you wanting more reflective moments from the man himself.

2. Mr. Davis (October 2017)

Debuting at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart, Mr. Davis features Gucci Mane delivering one of the most approachable albums in his entire career. Boasting A-list appearances by Migos, The Weeknd, Big Sean, Nicki Minaj and more, Mr. Davis is the album that people would never have expected out of Gucci two years ago. He’s open and honest throughout the project and the album opener, “Work in Progress," gives fans a sneak-peak of what's to come from his eclectic endeavor. 

It’s almost taboo to say Gucci Mane shines bright with such an industry-heavy album. We all know Gucci is really at his best when he relies on his own devices, but Mr. Davis works well for the most part. Unfortunately, it is an album that the industry has its hands over, causing the album to fall to the dismal realities of a major label release. A delayed release date, one too many guests and a bloated track listing keeps this album from being the absolute best project Gucci has released since leaving prison.

1. Droptopwop (May 2017)

No producer brings the most out of an artist more than Metro Boomin. There’s a reason why the auteur has been one of the main go to producers for the last several years. On Droptopwop, the chemistry between Metro and Gucci is remarkable. Gucci’s lyrical dexterity accompanied by Metro’s hair-raising production delivers one of the best projects in a year filled with excellent projects. Tracks like “Met Gala," “Finesse The Plug Interlude" and “Tho Freestyle” are examples of that.

Droptopwop is a unique entry in Gucci Mane’s catalog. As it was mentioned earlier, Gucci is a new man, but he still battles some demons from time to time as its seen on Droptopwop. This could easily have been a mess as artists sometimes get lost finding the harmony between living a new life while still rhyming about the negativities in their past life.

But Gucci manages to find the balance of having fun while also telling dark, gripping tales of the streets. Droptopwop is worth the listen and if you weren’t already celebrating Gucci’s glow-up, this mixtape has your ticket to the party.  

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