When the house lights dimmed and the thick, plush velvet curtains drew back on Friday night (July 22) at Atlanta’s Fox Theatre, Gucci Mane was right on cue and right back where he belonged. He may have been an hour behind schedule, but that certainly was the last concern of the anxious throng filling into their seats one-by-one to welcome back the city’s elder statesman for the celebratory night dubbed “Gucci Mane and Friends.”
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The rapper arrived onstage in a grand fashion, dripping in diamonds from his neck to his wrists, gaudy black and gold sunglasses perched above his cheeks and, of course, he opted to go shirtless to show off his new physique. DJ Holiday yelled through the mic, “Make some motherf—ing noise!” to which the crowd immediately roared. He then dropped the masterly beat to “Classical,” the Zaytoven-produced introduction Gucci’s second major-label triumphant, The State vs. Radric Davis.
Zaytoven, his longtime producer known for making hits that have moved the city for over a decade, sat plinking away at the keys of a white baby grand piano, adding his glimmering touch to the show kicker. Gucci paced the stage back and forth, vibing with the crowd as the smell of weed smoke swallowed the venue whole, forming a dusky haze over his silhouette.
For the next two-plus hours, Gucci did not disappoint. His girlfriend Keyshia Ka’oir acted as his single-digit posse, taking the stage with him, mouthing lyrics verbatim. He’d run with his phenomena-like catalog boasting of street feeding deep cuts (“Trap House,” “That’s My Hood,” “Nothin On Ya”), mainstream chart-topping hits (“Wasted,” “Lemonade,” “Freaky Gurl”), and tracks from his newly released, fresh out of prison return, Everybody Looking.
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Generously, he ran through song after song, after song. And while most artists usually opt to shorten tracks with brief mash-ups during shows, the prolific 36-year-old MC made sure to give the crowd their money’s worth with his first official concert since serving a three-year prison stint, performing every song in its entirety without missing a lyric or ad-lib.
The “friends” portion of the show quickly made way with Gucci’s influence in rap being felt tremendously — past, present and future. Rising Atlanta rapper Peewee Longway, whose sonic virtue has made him a fan favorite in the region, turned up the crowd with “Sneakin N Geekin” and the straight-laced “I Just Want The Money.” The self-proclaimed king of Memphis, Young Dolph, also slid through, performing his money-making anthem “Get Paid” and an a capella version of “Preach,” followed by an encore cemented in enthusiasm as everyone in the crowd yelled the words verbatim.
“Shout out to Gucci, man. That’s my brother,” he said before departing.
Soon after, Fetty Wap, who refers to Gucci as his idol, made his to the way to the stage for both “Trap Queen” and “Come My Way.”
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As the parade of rappers continued, OJ Da Juiceman, Gucci’s longtime friend who was also once his hype man before branching out as his own artist, took the stage with Gucci for the legendary “Make tha Trap Say Aye” that put the city on tilt back in 2007. In present day, it still knocks with just as much bass and grit, if not more. It’s a song that truly landmarks a time when trap music was fighting to earn its bearing nationally.
“I got something for y’all. We gon’ be here for a minute. We gotta have fun tonight,” Gucci, who was already on his second outfit change of the night, directed to the crowd, whose energy had simmered down a bit after the whirlwind of performers. But the level of turn up exceeded when 2 Chainz pranced onto the stage with swaggered steps. As he performed “Watch Out” and “MF’n Right” everyone in the crowd mimicked his dance steps, cartoonishly doing their best rendition of the viral hit dem folks dance move.
One of Gucci’s most moving performances of the night was “Trap House 3.” Eyes closed, both hands wrapped around the mic, the artist who recently spoke out on his sobriety and cleaning up his life rapped, “I’m trying to keep this shit together” with much conviction.
Things heated up on another notch when “March Madness” rang off and Future stormed the stage. “We just getting started,” DJ Holiday’s voice boomed through the speakers at 10:53 p.m.
As the marquee promised, there were to be many surprises for the night. The one we hoped for but weren’t quite too sure we’d witness graced the stage with his presence. In that moment, Future alley-ooped to “Jump Man” as Drake quickly ran out on stage. From the pit, hoards of people rushed the stage and everyone in the venue’s balcony eyes gleamed. Drake then personally welcomed Gucci home as they both, the 6 God and the Trap God, performed “Back on Road.”
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Gucci ended the show on a high note with “Fist Day Out Tha Feds,” which was dropped the day after he was released from prison. As the track rings off, he glides across the stage all smiles, hands in the air as if he’s conducting a symphony with the help of his loyal fans. Mike Will Made-It, the producer of the track, bops his head along to the rattling, bottom-heavy beat on the left side of the stage, a non-verbal salute to his OG’s major moment.
In Gucci’s world, there’s a perfect storm that’s been brewing for the past 57 days: the timely “First Day Out tha Feds,” linking up with the Drake for the warning sign of a track “Back on Road,” Kanye West tapping him for two verses on “Champions,” shouting out his predecessors in “All My Children,” starring in the Harmony Korine-directed Supreme ad, giving the world Everybody Looking.
“Gucci Mane and Friends” was yet another win, proving that there’s really no stopping his campaign. It’s safe to that Gucci is back (although he never really left) and has reclaimed his Trap God throne.