Last Friday Gucci Mane released his fourth mixtape since February 12th, East Atlanta Memphis, a collaborative effort with Brick Squad 1017 signee/affiliate/whatever Young Dolph. Guwop’s output of late has been overwhelming, reminiscent of his legendary 2009 run, minus the commercial success he found then. Gucci’s also put a fair amount of time investing in his imprint’s stable in recent years, and East Atlanta Memphis serves as a platform for a protégé to get exposure, much like his Free Bricks series did in the past. Given recent controversy surrounding Waka Flocka’s release from the label, it’s probably safe to say that Radric Davis would really like to see one of these guys break. Here, it’s Memphis' Young Dolph who’s tapped for the co-starring role; the Jesse Pinkman to Gucci’s Walter White, if you will.

The foundation of Gucci Mane’s music is generally drug-slanging subject matter over hard, entrancing beats, with his flow and exceptionally clever wordplay separating him from the pack. Here though, there’s an underwhelming degree of variation, and at times it even borders on redundant and boring. Specifically missing is the introverted, morbid Gucci-weirdness and Dolph’s storytelling prowess, which are two of the biggest strengths these guys possess. That’s certainly not to say these two artists aren’t capable of putting together thoughtful and entertaining content; it just doesn’t seem like there’s much variation from song to song and on the whole, much variation from what we’ve been getting from Gucci of late.

But not all hope is lost with this tape. There are signs of life on records like “Story”, where Gucci and Dolph trade narratives over an evolving, at times simplistically sparse, other times up-tempo and bouncy, C-Note production. Other records worth noting include the piano-dominated, motivational “Get It Back”, and the Zaytoven-produced “Mob Ties”, where Gucci suddenly starts rapping in a warped, sort of half-yell reminiscent of something Future would do. The production here is to be noted, featuring tried-and-true Gucci producers Lex Luger, C-Note, 808 Mafia, and Zaytoven.

On the whole, East Atlanta Memphis is by no means a bad tape; it just feels a bit forced, a bit rushed, and the end result is a bit underwhelming, especially considering the known talent of the artists involved. Gucci and Young Dolph are strong enough to carry any 14-track tape purely upon their wit, charisma, and knack for thinking up new and entertaining ways to talk about the same thing and Dolph is a super capable rapper. It’s just that this project doesn’t fully showcase that. Those familiarizing themselves with Dolph via this release should give A Time to Kill and Blue Magic a spin. Ultimately, while East Atlanta Memphis might not serve as Dolph’s landmark release, Gucci’s endorsement here will hopefully be enough to give the Memphis rapper the attention he’s worthy of.— @wavydavewilliam