Most Gucci fans have come to accept that at this stage in his career, the masterpieces are few and far between. The guy from 2009 may not be coming back, but given his rate of productivity, Gucci still has moments of greatness, whether it be in the form of full length releases or individual tracks. His innate ability to articulate ignorance via mumbling bombardments of car metaphors and food references is just, Gucci. What hasn’t been the same in recent years is his fervor. Now that he’s back to his regular overflowing release schedule, the line between musical motivation and a pursuit of his own relevance in a new era of rap has become increasingly vague. A project like Trap Back 2 falls somewhere within that cloud of vagueness. The tape’s first installment, released at the top of 2012, served as a return to form for Guwop after the release of some uncharacteristically flat projects (Ferrari Boyz), his ice cream cone facial tat and the head-scratcher that was BAYTL – his collaborative album with V Nasty. Trap Back brought back the animated metaphors and sheer ignorance that were driven perfectly through his barely-understandable, muffled delivery. That’s what makes Gucci’s music great. Trap Back 2 gets lightly sprinkled with these qualities.
Like most of his mixtapes, TB2 begins with DJ Holiday screaming at obscene levels about how he raised you, or thanking God for not being broke, or whatever. “Don’t Deserve It”, the tape’s leadoff, doesn’t take long to provide some comic relief to the recent Gucci-Waka debacle with the opening bars: “You diss Flocka Flame, you diss the fuckin’ wrong person.” Besides that, it’s one of Gucci’s more notable efforts on the project, with foreboding keys that fit Gucci’s growling flow. A la Project Pat, he adds some major stressing on his vowels on the hook: “Reach for my chain, you’ll be another dead purrson/Big Guwop but they call me Mr. Purrfect/Can’t look me in my eyes when you see me ‘cause you nurrvous/I murk your homeboy then I smoke a pound of purrple”. His signature food references are in tact too, from being ‘a million dollar nigga still eating at Church’s to carving your ass up like a turkey with a boxcutter. The Mike Will Made It-produced video game meets trap beat, “Playin’ With The Money” sees Gucci at his most energized, boasting “Used to get the work and pills came from Florida/And you my protege but I could never ride a Mazda!”.
Lyrically, he’s at his finest on “Crush”—a Zaytoven beat where Gucci’s congestion levels reach capacity, and his bars are worthy of a rewind: “Gambling in my gambling house like I’m Bugsy Siegel/Gucci Mane got legal money but I’m still illegal/45 Desert Eagle, I’m a eagle-keeper/I’ll make you meet you maker, nigga, I’m a maker-meeter/Park my Bentley, fuck the meter bitch ‘cause Gucci’s off the meter/And if the po po pull me over probably need a paralegal.”
Even with these bright spots, the vast majority of Trap Back 2 falls into the list of unmemorable Gucci releases. “Thirsty”, obviously dedicated to thirsty chicks, is an excruciating auto-tuned track that is being the project’s worst, but could weirdly turn into some sort of street-hit. The same goes for “Done With Her”, which features French Montana screaming “HANN” on 50 separate occasions. At some points Gucci seems uninterested in his own lyrics, sporting a similar, flat flow on “Full Of It”, “James Worthy”, and “White Man”. It’s like watching a real-time burnout of your favorite basketball star, who in his prime could easily posterize contenders, struggle to make a two-handed dunk without his back cracking in three spots. Gucci’s classic per mixtape release has been on a steady decline, and it looks as if releasing tape after tape at this point might end up doing him more harm than good. Where TB2 falls short of it’s predecessor is in it’s fluidity. Trap Back eased throughout, with songs that bump to this day like “Plain Jane”, “Walking Lick” and “Thank You”. The juices aren’t flowing as easily for Big Guwop here.—Lawrence Burney (@TrueLaurels)