guccimane.jpgWhile Gucci Mane’s Young Jeezy–assisted single “So Icy” was cluttering Southern airwaves in 2005, a dispute over the song’s ownership was turning into a full-blown beef between the two rappers. Then as Da Snowman was blowing up, Gucci had to watch from a jail cell as his debut, Trap House, topped Billboard’s independent charts and SoundScanned over 127,000 units. (He was serving out a six-month sentence for assaulting a club promoter with a pool cue.) Now a free man, Gucci returns with his second LP, Hard to Kill, and attempts to show that he too can make the dope boys go crazy.

Things start off well with the analog synth–infused “Street Niggas,” where Gucci details the day-to-day dealings of a trap star over percussive 808 snare rolls and deep subs. Then on the cocky “Everybody Knows Me,” he delivers an update on his numerous struggles, spittin’ in his congested drawl, “Nowadays, man, I stay on the news/My every move ends up on the tube/Whoever said being a gangsta was easy?/I got beef with BMF, and I got problems with Jeezy.”

Those aren’t the ATL native’s only problems. Bland tracks like “Freaky Girl,” “Hold That Thought” and the Nitti-produced “Go Head,” with their grating hooks and subpar lyrics, lack any real umph! Limiting his subject matter exclusively to clichés, like cars, jewelry and drugs, Gucci winds up crafting a collection of dry and virtually indistinguishable songs. Even “My Chain,” his attempt at re-creating the catchy magic of “So Icy,” fails, thanks in part to its irritating chant (“My Jacob is so fruity/Call me Gucci Mane, or you call me Gucci Gucci”).

While the appearance of fellow Southern outcasts like La Chat (“Stick Em Up”) and Gangsta Boo (“Trap Girl”) helps break the monotony, it still isn’t enough to save Hard to Kill from being a laborious listen. All in all, Gucci Mane may need a little more thug motivation next time around. —PAUL CANTOR
87cover.jpgRead the rest of XXL’s Critical Beatdown review section in the
December 2006 issue (#87)