Originality eludes Gucci Mane on ‘Trap Back’

Even with the extremely low bar set by other rappers, Gucci Mane’s lyrics are just plain absurd. On his latest mixtape, “Trap Back,” he talks about how he lives on the North Pole (on the aptly titled track, “North Pole”), how he wants to move his bed to his kitchen, and how he is going to start using a “Facecard” instead of his bankcard. Sadly, these gleefully weird details are too few and far between to support this overlong and disappointing mixtape.

The 19−song album only emphasizes Gucci’s limitations; he is strong at thinking of a few incredibly random and memorable lines but has real trouble sustaining entire tracks with his spacey thoughts. Gucci’s inability to carry the entire album makes it clear that he is past his prime and that the novelty of his weird lyrics is probably wearing out.

Gucci Mane has always been a ridiculous rapper. In his career, he has constructed a clownish image for himself centered on hysterically exaggerated verses about his wealth and street credibility. He is often a cartoonish parody of gangster rap with unabashedly dumb lyrics that sometimes hide subtle meanings filled with genius. Other times they just mean nothing. He drops lines like “Dope−fiend Willie used to finger−f−−k my rims” on the track “Back in ’95.” Though it doesn’t actually make any sense, it is still a very memorable sentence.

The mixtape has many other head−scratching instances, like on “Chicken House,” when Gucci says, “I got birds everywhere, I call it the chicken room,” as some light chirps can be heard behind the beat. While the listener’s first instinct might be to assume that Gucci is talking about drugs when he says “birds,” the chirps and abstractness of the rest of his lines make it clear that he might just be talking about having a room in his house where he keeps all of his chickens. I wouldn’t find it surprising that the same man who thought getting a face tattoo of an ice cream cone was a good idea also thought it was wise to dedicate a room in his house to poultry.

The ridiculousness gets amplified as the album goes on, as Gucci starts yelling things like, “I’m in the trap house, with SHOES on.” He emphasizes the word shoes, making it clear that in his mind the horrific part of being there is that he still hasn’t taken off his sneakers yet. It’s a puzzling thought but, again, one that is hard to forget because of its utter oddity.

Later on, during the same song, he talks about his “peanut butter interior / my diamonds on they period.” Gucci Mane often raps about weed and cocaine, and these passing lines give the listener a sense of his opinion on these drugs; it’s an odd and intriguing space that the listener will want to visit again to try to understand what exactly is being said.

The mixtape works best when the beats are as playful as possible; this sound is the best way to counter and challenge the absurd statements being blurted out by Gucci. The bigger and more serious sounding songs just don’t sit right with the absent−mindedness of his lyrics. Similarly, when Gucci tries to prove that he is a rapper “from the streets,” it is much weaker than when he just goes for balls−to−the−wall crazy. The best parallel for Gucci is clearly Lil Wayne, who similarly oscillates between those two poles, though with stronger results.

Most of Gucci’s raps concern themselves with women, how he is from the “streets” or drugs, which for a rapper in this day and age is not very original material for a mixtape.

This mixtape boasts productions from top producers like Mike Will, Drumma and Zaytoven, and verses from talented rappers like Waka Flocka, and Jadakiss. These supporting artists help keep Gucci Mane afloat, but just barely. In the future, Gucci might want to spend more time focusing on his lyrics to produce more consistent results. Although every once in a while, his lyrics show the spark of some sort of weird genius, that brilliance goes missing all too often on “Trap Back.”