“I can’t even sleep, I got so much to say.” These are the first words listeners hear on Gucci Mane’s new album Everybody Looking. It’s not surprising that Gucci Mane has more than a few things to get off his chest, given that Everybody Looking is the Atlanta-based rapper’s first album after serving a two-year prison sentence. Then again, it seems like Gucci Mane always has a lot to say. He’s one of the most prolific rappers of all time, releasing a steady stream of mixtapes, albums, and compilations uninterrupted by his stints in prison. Everybody Looking is without a doubt the most substantial Gucci Mane release fans have had for a while. In a sense, Everybody Looking is Gucci Mane throwing himself a welcome home party.
From a technical standpoint, the album is impeccable. The beats are a who’s-who of Atlanta trap superstars, including Zaytoven and Mike Will Made It. Aside from a few songs where the vocals have an odd echo to them, Gucci sounds great all over the album and rides the beats with ease. While this may sound simplistic, dumb, or obvious, this is my most concise analysis of Gucci Mane: Gucci Mane is really good at rapping. When he raps, it seems effortless. Gucci Mane raps like rap is his second language, a medium that he’s so comfortable communicating in that it’s no different from talking. Unfortunately, this is a nuance to his sound that can’t necessarily be done justice in print; it has to be heard to be fully understood. The best way I can put it is that most rappers sound like they’re working to make a song good, whereas Gucci Mane doesn’t. He works with a masterful ease to make songs that are effortlessly catchy, fun, and danceable.
However, Gucci doesn’t shy away from the dark side. Both “1st Day Out Tha Feds” and “Pick Up The Pieces — Outro” are introspective, melancholic, and at times paranoid songs that confront the problems of someone left alone with his thoughts for two years. The emotional weight of these songs is a welcome surprise, providing an interesting counterbalance to the more upbeat party songs on the album.
Everybody Looking is clearly a reference to the amount of pressure Gucci was under when putting together this project. Not only were diehard fans waiting his first post-prison release, but his audience had expanded since he had entered federal custody, since his appearance in the film Spring Breakers, as well as an endless stream of memes about him, bolstered his image among those who spend quite a bit of time on the internet, which has stimulated curiosity among people who wouldn’t usually listen to his music. However, both old and new fans will find something to like on Everybody Looking. Newcomers can find a way in through Kanye West and Drake’s features on “P***y Print” and “Back on Road,” respectively. Young Thug is in rare form in his feature on “Guwop Home,” his wailing croon on the chorus evokes joyousness that borders on ecstacy. On the other hand, older fans can enjoy songs like “Waybach” that evoke his classic style.
Unfortunately, Everybody Looking fails in one significant way: a lack of variety. On the entire album, Gucci seems to have the same flow, the same style of delivery, for every song. His flow isn’t bad, but hearing the same thing over and over is never good. While the album is fairly short, it seems much longer than it actually is because of this repetitiveness.
This is the drawback to having a distinct style: when you’re at the top of your game, you’re unstoppable, but when the quality dips, you sound like a watered-down version of your own hits. At times, Everybody Looking sounds like Gucci Mane is still trying to learn his own style. The great songs on the album are brought down by the mediocre ones, which could have been cut if not for the fact that they’re needed to fill time on the album. However, given that Everybody Looking was released only a few weeks after Gucci Mane got out of prison, it shouldn’t be a shock that the album isn’t entirely A-list material. Perhaps if Gucci Mane had given himself a later deadline, he would have been able to experiment more with its sound.
In short, Everybody Looking may not be Gucci Mane’s most polished release to date, but it absolutely reassures fans that he has not lost any of his skill in the time that he’s been away from the public eye.