After delivering a lackluster collaborative album with V-Nasty, Gucci Mane needed to reassert his position as a musical liaison for the streets. If the Brick Squad general prepared a checklist prior to releasing his latest mixtape, which follows up the BAYTL collab, it might’ve read something like this: Songs dedicated to coke; songs dedicated to bitches; songs dedicated to getting money; Lex Luger-esque trap beats; “Burr” ad-libs. Released on Super Bowl, the DJ Holiday-hosted Trap Back successfully does all of these things—making it a tape that does what it does well, but doesn’t offer much of a fresh take.
Gucci Mane has never been a wordplay wizard, but with a mixtape bulkier than a fugitive’s trunk (there are 19 tracks in total, here), he had ample opportunity to provide some goods. In reality, though, there’s a disproportionate amount of lyricism to around. Gucci does, however, get the mixtape started properly with “Back in ‘95,” where he spits about his career as a hustler, in retrospect, to remind naysayers and himself he’s still “hustler of the year.” “Ghetto,” which, with its hood-repping tendency sounds like an unreleased DJ Khaled cut, also shines. Gucci raps with his patented lethargy, and Chilly Chill makes an incredibly catchy hook to compliment the trunk knocking instrumental, also produced by Chilly. Lex Luger also whips up heavy-hitting production for the Trap Star that will undoubtedly push decibel levels to the maximum on “Blessing,” featuring Yo Gotti and Jadakiss. Here, everyone comes correct, and although Kiss sounds a bit awkward on this style of beat, he still delivers a solid 16.
Through most of the tape, Gucci does exactly what we expect. He flips raps about flipping white, takes pills with some lady friends, and counts his green. Looking for something different from the Warner Bros. signee at this point is, though, seems foolish. Still, it can get tiresome at points. On “In Love With A White Girl,” Gucci uses the cliche concept to detail how much love he receives from his beloved Snow White. “Chicken Room” is also a less-than-clever attempt, as well as “North Pole,” a bonus track which offers some of the same. These, like many of the cuts here, get a breath of new life from the thumping production, as well as Gucci’s presence on wax. Even when he’s saying the same thing in only slightly new ways, Gucc does it with flair.
With beats from Zaytoven, Drumma Boy, Mike Will, Sonny Digital, and features from Waka Flocka, 2 Chainz, Future, Yo Gotti, Jadakiss and Rocko, Gucci Mane is in good company throughout the project. The supporting cast helps carry the tape and bolster what the leading man brings to the table.
With Trap Back, Gucci Mane is back in his element. He’s removed himself from the curiosity of BAYTL and returned to the vice indulging-laced lyrics the system shattering soundscapes that fueled his initial ascent. Bundle up. —Robert Baker