Album Review of Woptober by Gucci Mane.
Release Date: Oct 14, 2016
Record label: Atlantic
Prison can change anyone. Enough time isolated from the world, treated as subhuman and discarded like garbage is soul-breaking and creatively stifling; it would be hard for anyone to maintain sanity or balance, regardless of a strong belief that one day you’ll be back on the outside. When Gucci Mane was finally freed from the United States Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana back in May, it was a joyous moment for his fans but it was unclear what effect being gone since 2013 would have on the rapper and the music.
Just months after the release of his triumphant post-prison comeback, Everybody Looking, the ever-prolific Gucci Mane returned with Woptober. Guwop's tenth official album is -- as the solid-ice bust on the album cover suggests -- an icy-cold affair. Proving that incarceration couldn't slow him down, the 13 tracks are packed with typical boasts, all come-at-me defiance and bravado.
2016 has been a relatively strange year for Hip Hop, and somewhere between Azealia Banks going ham on Russell Crowe and the Kid Cudi to Kanye West to Jay Z grand unraveling stands the debut of a clear-headed, serene and soft-spoken Gucci Mane. Since being released from prison this past May after a two-year stint for weapons charges, the now 36-year-old Radric Davis has been enjoying all the spoils that come with the “free rapper” fanfare: collaborations with league-leaders Kanye West, Drake and Young Thug, high-profile interviews, and his highest Billboard 200-charting album this past June. Yet, through the thick of the forest of new leaves that have been turned over in Gucci’s life, something is noticeably off when it comes to the music, as his eighty-someteenth release (and second of the year) Woptober exhibits.
“Hi, my name is Gucci Mane, I’m addicted to everything.” So opens the closing track, “Addicted”, of Gucci Mane’s tenth studio album, WOPTOBER. Though anybody who’s followed post-prison Gucci is well aware of his new clean lifestyle, he had yet to truly transfer that mindset into his music. Lest we forget that one of his classic songs (and a post-prison one at that) begins “I’m starting off my day with a blunt of purp / No pancakes, just a cup of syrup.” But this is New Gucci, a man whose mission is to not allow his stature in the music world overwhelm him with the temptations that it offers.
As an artist, you’re only as good as your last effort, but in a few cases throughout the course of history, incarceration has halted some of rap’s brightest stars from living up to their full potential and stunting their development. Resuming a rap career on the other side of a lengthy jail sentence has garnered mixed results, with a vast majority failing to find their footing. They say that time waits for no man, but Gucci Mane has proven himself to be the exception to that rule, reclaiming his throne as Atlanta’s resident trap king and asserting himself as a media darling in 2016.