Perhaps no song better illustrates the joy of listening to Gucci Mane in 2016 than Everybody Looking standout “Richest Nigga in the Room.” “They say Gucci Mane’s a cutthroat, he probably is / He’ll rob, steal and kill and he probably will / They say Gucci Mane’s a jackboy, he probably is,” raps Gucci Mane at one point, ingesting and disposing of all the critiques leveed against him. It’s his “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” moment, if you will; the moment Gucci acknowledges his problems, but also his enormous worth, and lets those moments slide to the side.
“Richest Nigga” comes ten tracks into Gucci Mane’s new LP, well after we receive confirmation that yes, Gucci Mane is back and better than ever. Perhaps its his clenched-teeth delivery, the way he stumbles upon a hook that draws me into the colorful world he creates on Everybody Looking. But I think it’s mostly due to his candid, singular lyrics, as he’s unafraid to address his entire emotional response from being incarcerated and then set free.
He’s hardened, yes. But on one of the year’s best singles – “1st Day out tha Feds” – he’s also remorseful, sincere. “They call me crazy so much, I think I’m starting to believe em / I did some things to some people that was down right evil / Is it karma coming back to me, so much drama / My own mama turned her back on me, and that’s my mama.” He’s more self-aware, more accountable, less cynical and bleak.
It helps that Zaytoven and Mike WiLL Made It – never gone but somehow forgotten – deliver some of the year’s best beats. Songs such as “Robbed” and “At Least a M” have an almost lullaby quality to them, with their twinkling, colorful productions making for the aural equivalent to the canvas Gucci Mane surveys on his album cover.
He gets some of the biggest names in rap to assist with verses – Drake shows up on “Back On Road,” while Kanye West graces us with his presence on “Pussy Print” and Young Thug is at his Thuggiest on his featured appearance on “Guwop Home.” It’s Mr. West who fares best – at first coming across as a Gucci clone – continuing his streak of sounding like he’s having fun again; from his appearance on ScHoolboy Q’s “THat Part” to “Champions” to “All We Got” to this, he sounds more at home when positioning himself next to rap’s next generation of stars.
But this is undeniably Gucci Mane’s show, and his featured artists – as well as Zaytoven’s and Mike WiLL Made It’s masterful productions – are only here to bolster his sound. After a lengthy prison stint, Everybody Looking is an apt title for Gucci Mane’s return; everybody wants to see what the Mane has been up to. With Everybody Looking, he gives everyone something to watch.
Everybody Looking is available now. Gucci Mane has also uploaded every track to his YouTube page.
Watch the video for Everybody Looking‘s newest single, “Waybach”: