Atlantic Records
Atlantic Records

Ten years ago, if you asked Gucci Mane if he’d ever get married, remove his gold teeth, be free of legal woes or put down the Styrofoam cup, he would likely glare at you, ice cream cone staring back at you, and sharply laugh in your face. But here we are in the closing months of 2017, and GuWop is officially a changed—and married—man.

The rapper, better known on this new album as Mr. Davis, has made a complete 180-degree lifestyle change in the matter of a few years. Last May, Gucci came home early from a two-year prison bid and promptly released Everybody Looking, a better-than-average album that gave him a clean slate both musically and personally. Now he’s back with Mr. Davis, his third studio LP since “coming out da feds.” Based on the title alone, it’s clear that Radric Delantic Davis put aside his many monikers and made an album from his most candid perspective.

Mr. Davis isn’t technically the third musical offering we’ve received from Gucci since his return home. After Everybody Looking, he dropped his Woptober and Free Bricks 2 mixtapes and then after his East Atlanta Santa album, he released the Drop Top Wop mixtape, so it’s safe to say that we’ve heard a lot from Gucci since his return but not quite like we're hearing him now. Mr. Davis is stripped-down, honest and straight to the point.

The intro, “Work in Progress,” can be best described as a two-and-a-half minute summary of Gucci’s diary since his return home. Normally he raps with a certain gangster Guwop demeanor, menacing southern growl and all, but here he’s almost rapping in conversation. When have you ever heard Gucci spit lines like, “Sometimes I think about my past, it make me start tripping/I was gifted with a talent that was God-given/But I was so hard-headed I would not listen/Sometimes I sit and I reflect about that cold prison”? The sincerity is definitely something to be noted and appreciated.

Gucci quickly reminds you, however, that he can still make the game’s most perfectly executed trunk rattler. “I Get the Bag” featuring the Migos is flawless in every way it attempts to be. Takeoff kills his verse, Quavo delivers another ripe chorus and then Gucci drops gems like, “I don't even like to freestyle for free” and ultimate flexes like, “A trapper baby, I rap but I own all my masters, baby.” Plus, Metro Boomin and Southside piece together the knocking instrumental made up with heavy 808 drums and piercing claps. The same applies in lesser magnitude on “Jumped Out the Whip” featuring A$AP Rocky, “Make Love” with Nicki Minaj and “Lil Story” ScHoolboy Q. Gucci’s generational influence and recent success story makes it a no-brainer for rap’s top-tier to show out on even his deep cuts.

With that said, there are instances where Gucci runs out of charisma on his solo tracks. He appears to save his best bars, flows, deliveries and even ad-libs for only a handful of tracks—mostly with other A-listers. This lyrical gridlock happens most prominently between both “Members Only” and “Money Make Ya Handsome”—two solo cuts he places side by side in the middle of the album. He gets off some decent multi-syllabics on the former but the latter is the album’s most obvious skip due to Gucci’s lackluster lines and Metro Boomin’s tedious production.

These are only minor blemishes on an album that is mostly above average in every which way. One song to be championed from Mr. Davis it's “Changed” with Big Sean. Not only does Gucci deliver his most standout verse on the album, it is potentially his strongest verse since being released from jail. “Old Gucci Mane was addicted to dranking/New Gucci Mane, I'm addicted to Franklins/No, we not the same, I'm evolving/I'ma elevate long as the world keeps revolving” should undoubtedly be this album’s official tagline. This is only one example of the raw reflections Gucci makes about his trials, tribulations and triumphs in progress. Not to mention Big Sean croons out a smooth chorus and verse over Key Wane’s eerily soulful beat.

In the grand scheme of Gucci Mane’s career, despite also being tremendously celebrated circa 2016, this recent period of his musical outputs will go down as his finest. Especially on this album, he proves that perhaps Mr. Davis is just as valuable to our culture as Gucci Mane.

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