Tag Archives: Gucci Mane

The Year. 20-16


As a man who finds it difficult to keep up with the critical designations of the things that happen in British electronic music (maximalism is in, apparently), I might not be the best placed person to say this, but there was something really weird about the SBTRKT record the first time I heard it. Not that it was that sonically weird in an overall context. In fact, the weird part was that it sounded like it already existed. Like it had always existed. Like a cross-section snapshot of all British electronic music since the 90s, from rudeboy garage to James Blake keening over 0.75 drum hits per bar. Not that it sounds retro, though. It sounds bracingly current, somehow, even though there’s a track that sounds like that most disrespected genre, Pro Evo loading music. I get people telling me to listen to various “post-dubstep” things often, so I’d built up a wall of scepticism. SBTRKT is immediate in a way that none of that seems to me. Wildfire, with Little Dragon singing, is good in a really appealing way, an exhortation to dance but executed with what can only really be described as taste. Maybe that’s what’s good about the whole thing, like it’s, abhorrent as it might sound, a safe version of genre tourism. Pieces of everything, with an assurance of quality.

The Pro Evo-sounding track and dude’s Twitter, avoiding by these choices the whole Wildean “hide the artist and reveal art” anonymity bullshit and the “it’s grand to wear tribal masks” thing too.

SBTRKT – Wildfire

19. Gucci Mane – Writings On The Wall 2 [US]

Everything in me wants me to just type “excuse me for being gangsta, I’m crazy” and leave that as the review of this tape, because that’s Gucci Mane. An insane gangsta rapping about being an insane gangsta who got arrested for being a gangsta and then got out of going to real prison because he’s insane. It’s perfect. What does he do as soon as he comes out? Raps about avoiding consequences for being gangsta by claiming, fully legitimately, that he’s crazy. There is nobody in the world like Gucci Mane. It’s not like this mixtape is wildly different to what you’d expect. It’s got roving 808 kicks and trap raps about trap stuff where he says roughly the kind of thing you’d expect him to stay but he still makes you go “…hold on, what?” and rewind it. Like bragging about having an iPhone. Or “I call my secretary my sexetary, I sent that bitch a picture of my dictionary.” It’s more subtle than it used to be. But there are great songs (Tragedy and the for-girls Brrr (Supa Cold) especially). And it’s got DJ Holiday Season shouting “HOLIDAY SEASON!” and talking about retiring the word crown. What’s better than that?

You can get this for the low price of having to listen to DJ Holiday Season shout his name. Also a making-of video.

Gucci Mane – Tragedy

18. The Babies – The Babies [US]

I fucking hate Woods. As far as I’m concerned, they’re responsible for the downfall of that couple of years of lo-fi I fell in love with, when bands of no major consequence were putting out great, shoddy seven inches and it seemed like there was a 50% chance I’d like any American band booked in Dublin. They made it boring, elevated “vibes” over melody and split opinion. Pitchfork called them a litmus test. I came out whatever colour is bad. I was surprised, then, that a dude from Woods could collaborate with the more annoying-sounding Vivian Girl and still end up making something I really liked. “Muscle” is definitely the wrong term for what they found, but by coincidence or design, they ended up with songs that sound like songs, with hooks that make good songs. Meet Me In The City could be one of those “great, shoddy seven inches” and Personality, surprisingly, is just a punk song. All of a sudden, with a solid basis, the couch potato bullshit of Woods records and Cassie from Vivian Girls’ physically-incapable-of-being-arsed thing become endearing. And it’s a boy-girl record, which you kind of have to cherish when an alright one comes around.

AV Club uses various humorously meaningless music critic-type similes about this. “Passing vocals back and forth as if the mic were an ice-cream cone” indeed.

The Babies – Meet Me In The City

17. Cousin Fik – Hacksaw Ben Thuggin’ [US]

The initial topic of general discussion about Cousin Fik is, inevitably, whether he’s the cousin of anyone in particular or just a general cousin. He’s from E-40’s Cork-sized home city and he’s on E-40’s record label, which is usually a pretty good guide for whether or not people are related to him. At one point on the tape he even says “call me Lil Wayne cos I’m stuntin’ like my daddy,” which just confuses matters. He’s not E-40 though. He can rap really fast, but it’s more like a lightweight boxer than a mental octopus or whatever the fuck E-40 is. He steps in, hits a technically sound volley like Cory Gunz or someone, then steps out and drops a punchline about wrestling or horror movies. You could probably present him on paper as a post-Odd Future rapper if you wanted, but you’d lose the crowd once a note of music played. Because Cousin Fik manages the not unimpressive job of making a song about having a crew consisting of Freddy, Jason and Mike Myers or being Hacksaw Jim Duggan actually sound like hard, ‘street’ rap music. The beats range from cloudy to Just Blazey and Fik stays on top of them all. Because he’s not just good, he’s interesting.

You can get this for free, but also watch this excellent video of the best song.

Cousin Fik – Hacksaw Ben Thuggin

16. Young L – Domo Kun/As I Float (The Great John Nash)/Praktica [US]

Cliché at this point on certain areas of the rap internet that Young L is being underrated and that he should be Lex Luger rich and famous, or at least Clams Casino rich and famous. It’s true. Like those other two dudes, he’s under 25 and he basically staked out a new subgenre for himself with his beats. Unlike those two, though, there isn’t really anyone else in Young L’s subgenre yet. Young L-E-N, from last year, still stands as the manifesto: “nothing but that Martian knock”. There is, indeed, “nobody making this type of slap,” and it’s only developed further this year. Loud Pockets, off the Domo Kun mixtape, is the best example yet, unequivocally the best song of the year. Arcade Pussy, off the Praktica tape that just came out, is fairly conclusive proof that, even if there’s a temptation to call Young L a producer first and rapper second, nobody has developed a decent enough conception of his beats yet to rap better than he does over them. “Not even music,” is how a friend who was attempting to listen to Common put it, and I decided not to disagree. Call it anti-music if you like. Huge low end, Super Nintendo Sega Genesis high end and a dude shouting “respect my motherfucking dick”. If that doesn’t sound appealing, listen. If it’s still not appealing, fine. He made another mixtape this year that was a go at Imogen Heap samples. And that was great too. Young L is a genius. The only reason this isn’t higher is because there’s chaff on each tape. Combine the three and you’d be in top 3 album territory.

Domo Kun tape, the Imogen Heap sample tape and the Praktica tape. Who else you know got a iced-out ghost though?

Young L – Loud Pockets

Young L – Same Reason

Young L – Arcade Pussy


Some rap reviews of varying merit from the past few months.

I review exclusively rap in Totally Dublin now because I am willing to do so and people into reviewing indie rock are easier to find I guess. I did a long one for One More Robot too. I am in the process of forming an argument in my mind that rap music is not only a separate genre but a mode unto itself – an action movie is a movie, but even if a play does a lot of the same things as a movie, it’s a different thing. Off the back of that, I’d plead that starting to review rap is like learning to do reviews all over again. The mode is different, so the criticism is different, and I’ve become gradually aware of how annoying an uninformed rock critic talking about rap is, no matter how good their intentions. I haven’t formed that modal argument fully yet, though, so all I can do is post some reviews.

Jay-Z and Kanye West – Watch The Throne
(Totally Dublin, September 2011)

Some albums are statement albums by virtue of the circumstances surrounding their release – a rapper getting out of jail, say. Others are statement albums because they arrive from nowhere with a fully-formed, confident, unique sound. But sometimes it’s just a de facto statement album, because you’re probably the two most famous rappers in the world and everyone’s already paying attention. And you’ve called yourselves, by implication, The Throne. It’s not surprising that Jay-Z and Kanye came up with “throne” either. There can only be one king, but a throne can theoretically fit two, and it gives Kanye a great opportunity to patronise an up and coming upholsterer in Milan or somewhere. The music is lavish, as you’d expect. But this album’s only important because it’s already important.

Kanye is best where Jay-Z is weakest which, rather than making for a ‘best of both worlds’ situation (shouts out R. Kelly), means that neither seems like they’re making the album they should be making. Kanye’s not a technical rapper. He’s most interesting when he’s making ridiculous statements – “this is something like the holocaust” as the opening line of bro-step banger Who Gon Stop Me, for example. Jay-Z at this point in his career needs exactly the right context to avoid sounding old and staid. The scenarios he finds himself in alongside Kanye, who at one point advises his future son to avoid telethons, undermine even his fresher flows. On Niggas In Paris, for example, Jay-Z lays down a textbook verse about being so successful he no longer cares. Kanye then rolls in and manages to mention Prince William, Mary-Kate, Ashley, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and a Margiela jacket, whilst also noting that he is in Paris.

It’s hard to tell whether this was Kanye The Scrappy Kid’s idea, wanting to trade bars with his Hall of Famer mentor, or Gwyneth Paltrow’s Friend Jay-Z’s, wanting to hang on to relevance. It’s got flashes of genius, mostly from Kanye, but it is some heavily unnecessary stuff and it doesn’t (or shouldn’t) really mean anything for rap in general. Which is sad, considering what it could have been.


Gucci Mane & Waka Flocka Flame – Ferrari Boyz
(One More Robot, September 2011)

Gucci Mane, out of prison for the time being at least, is the postmodern man’s current king of the South, with a history of squeezing baseless absurdities into raps about cocaine. Waka Flocka Flame, his protégé and former literal weed-carrier, is the king of being insufferable in a club, encouraging all and sundry to throw gang signs, steal girlfriends and start fights. But they don’t always fit together, which is what they try to do fifteen times on Ferrari Boyz.

Maybe the best way to squeeze the most juice out of this collaboration would have been to make it a Gucci Mane album with a Waka Flocka Flame hooks, ad libs and three words per line final verses. But Flockaveli blew up, so like Jay-Z and Kanye on Watch The Throne, there’s some kind of implied parity here. With the two on equal standing, the strategy they’ve chosen is to flex over mean-mugging Southside beats. It’s not the fuck the club up party rap of Flockaveli, but it seems like Flocka territory, or at least the implication that it might be seems to have an effect on Gucci, who reins in his wholesale, non-sequitur-filled, insane flow and tries to play along. Of course there’s weirdness. It’s Gucci Mane and Waka Flocka Flame. But it tends to come in the form of double take-inducing lines about driving a Ferrari like it was a Chevy, wedged amongst auto-pilot bars about being stoned or rich and even, at various points, Wiz Khalifa shout outs.

There’s wandering 808s and roof-scraping synth arpeggios with the guys who made that the legitimate default beat choice in modern rap, so there are highlights. Suicide Homicide, with Wooh Da Kid, has an eminently chantable hook and plenty of horrific lyrical bases touched (such as “putting seven in your chest” like “M. Vick” and “cooking up babies, call that shit abortion). The beat on 15th And The 1st is more mysterious than threatening, and though he’s still on B game even compared to his last mixtape Writings On The Wall 2, it seems like the most comfortable territory for Gucci on the record. It’s also got Flocka executing his traditional role to perfection: half-singing a hook about having a stomach so full that’s he’s burping hundreds. YG Hootie, solidifying his position as third best Bricksquad member, delivers a decent verse that acknowledges his anger about not actually selling records in his own right. Later, on Pacman, Flocka manages to deliver a verse that confusingly doesn’t make any mention of the fact that his name is the sound Pacman makes while eating pills and being chased by ghosts. Which is a missed opportunity, given that that’s a pretty functional blurb for his whole persona.

In the final instance, the value of Ferrari Boyz will be as a museum piece exemplifying an entire genre. It’s further proof of the fact that one and one doesn’t necessarily always give two with rap records, especially when you’re dealing with people who’ve made their name off tracks where they’ve had space to let their idiosyncracies out with no self-consciousness. That it’s not even better than the last solo mixtape by each rapper is telling in that respect. But you could use it to teach post-Lex Luger ham rap to your hip hop class, for the same reason you get someone with a neutral accent to teach a language to kids. To call it ‘by numbers’ is uncharitable but not far off.


Das Racist – Relax
(Totally Dublin, October 2011)

Self-awareness is something only comedy rap troupe ever to school you on Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak possess in almost dangerous quantities, so there’ll always be something slightly unwholesome about their off-hand punchlines about expensive cheese and being Eric Clapton. But their free association postmodern pop culture flow is confident now and the chaff has been discarded. They’re fun, different to anyone else, and there are serious ideas behind those raised eyebrows.


Lil B – Im Gay (Im Happy)
(Totally Dublin, 2011)

All praise be to Based God, but as laudable as his positive message is, he’s only really compelling when you can’t tell whether he’s serious or not. Im Gay (with no apostrophe) fulfilled its meme generation purpose by making everyone shocked that a rapper would call a record that, but the raps, though improving technically, are still not great. Clams Casino comes through with Unchain Me, but Lil B doesn’t seem to know what he’s saying.


Roach Gigz – Bitch I’m A Player
(Totally Dublin, August 2011)

It’s not that surprising that putting a big personality over dumb slaps results in more great music from the Bay Area. Over twelve C-Loz tracks (one of which is literally built around a sample of the words “big fat beat”), Roach Gigz is skilled and funny, rapping about holes in his brain from drug abuse and women trying to get to him through his publicist. Another for the ‘next to blow up’ column, but more of this is enough if he doesn’t.


Hip Hop Monday #7: ‘sGucci

It’s Monday, which means it’s time for hip hop. Next Saturday, there’s a Gucci Mane-themed night on in the Bernard Shaw. I was going to do a Gucci-themed piece, because Gucci is mental and often deadly, but it seemed better to just ask the guy putting the night on to do it. So here’s an out of season guest post, by Orlando.

When he told me about the night, I asked him if anyone in Dublin cared about Gucci Mane. “They will,” he replied. Evangelism.

“Dear Friends of Karl’s Blog,

My name is Orlando. I really like all sorts of music, but hip-hop music specifically has been a big interest of mine for a considerable amount of time. I would be mostly interested in Golden age stuff, but recently mostly due to the fact I have been spending some time in America (where it is bigger than pop music) I have been developing an interest in new rap artists like Rick Ross and Mannie Fresh.

The appreciation I have for this style of music is not comparable to how I feel about hip-hop music in general. The feeling that these “rap” artists give me as they arrogantly drawl over the sub kick drums, and pitch shifting snare rolls is far more superficial than anything I have ever gotten from the talented rappers I have held in such high esteem for the past years. But, at the same time I enjoy the way this music makes me feel. I can identify that the feeling I am getting from this music is hardly down to the lyrical content of the artist or the talent of the producer making the track, it is more down to the attitude, image and tone of the track.

So, keeping this is mind, Gucci Mane is with out a doubt my favorite of all these rappers. He has a complicated and interesting persona as an artist and I can honestly say that he enthralls me. I want to celebrate him as person, not just his music.

This Saturday in the Bernard Shaw, will probably be the best possible low budget salute to Gucci Mane imaginable. Gucci Mane Vs. The World is going to not only have every second track as Gucci Mane, but the rest of the music will be made up of some of the best new and gangsta rap tracks you have ever heard. My great friend Kathi is going to be painting ice-creams onto peoples faces. On top of that we will be showing the Gucci Mane Raw Report and there will be a contest to win a 1017 Brick Squad T-shirt. So, hopefully I will see you there to enjoy some mind numbingly stupid lyrics and erratic hi-hat patterns.

I would also love it if the people coming would tip their cap to the man, by donning “street threads”, anything from a new era cap to a grill for the boys to fake nails and weaves for the chicks.

Anyway that’s everything,
Thank you,