Woptober is the stone on which Gucci steps to rap myth.
Gucci Mane is the most believable trap artist not named Jeezy, and he knows it. His second release in a single calendar year, Woptober, further separates Guwop from the fodder. Gucci’s always had a knack for making his listeners feel invincible. Joining playful word puzzles, simple piano loops and hypnotic big bass thump, Gucci Mane is at the height of his enchanting powers. Woptober is the stone on which he steps to rap myth. It is the “island” he refers to in “The Left”–on which Gucci stands “by [him] self.” While Gucci relishes in the solitude, Woptober also reveals the frustrating process that led to the Atlanta rapper’s preeminence. Losing friends that turned out to be snitches, the psychological effects of incarceration and the familial destruction caused by drug addiction point to Gucci’s endurance throughout tumult. Woptober is, perhaps, the most personal record by an artist whose creative output is second-to-none, whose influence still grows even after a decade in the game.
Gucci announces his presence through a slew of multiple personalities, flipping first and third person perspective to articulate his dexterity. Other rappers just “blend in good,” he remarks on “Aggressive,” but he posits his own genius in juggling numerous characterizations: “I’m a monster, a mobster, a contract killer/ I’m a convict, a conman, an ex-drug dealer/ I’m the bricks man, hit man, jack boy, kick man.” While some of those traits amble in hyperbole, Gucci blurs the line between his reputation outside of music and his presence in the industry with convincing results. Producer London lays out a familiar canvas for Gucci to spit on with the track’s light piano key strokes and sub bass sky on this record. Gucci is comfy in the cut, with a flow that cross fades between joviality and assertiveness.
Trap music (along with its Midwest cousin, drill music) is often critiqued for its repetitiveness. Seemingly endless looping and artist’s lyrical simplicity are symptomatic of a larger dumbing down in entertainment culture, they’d argue. To be sure, Gucci Mane is the self-proclaimed, “Trap God,” so the repetition found in cuts like “The Left” and “Money Machine” can ring annoying. On the latter though, Gucci establishes the repetitive form, then flips the lyrical script. While the defining quality of “Money Machine” might be its simplistic chorus — which features an ear grinding “beep beep” — Gucci slowly unravels the machine imagery by alluding to his efficiently mechanical drug trade: “I’m a get money submarine, I sent coke in submarines/ Irrigation machines, hydraulic water machines/ My money counting machine sound like a sewing machine.” He’s working so regularly that “They know my trap house pump out quarters like a slot machine.” Later on “Dirty Lil Nigga,” under the mesmeric Mavado drum sampled by Metro Boomin’, Gucci describes his destructive upbringing between monotonous reiteration. “Dirty lil nigga, he a dirty lil nigga,” he begins in the third person, “Catch him in the city bout 30 lil niggas/ Keep a cup of lean, he a muddy lil nigga/ Got a knife in the chopper, he’ll cut a lil nigga.” Reality and hyperbole kiss again; Gucci has been sober since his prison sentence, and the flimsiness highlights Gucci’s desire to distance himself from his youthful nihilism.
From re-establishing the influence of his myth–“All these rappers are my kids so I got children everywhere“–on “Wop” to questioning his choice of friends–“Tell me how you feel when your plug tell on ya?“– on “Out the Zoo,” Gucci adeptly stretches between the fatalistic and the fantastical. He even plays with the Gucci Clone conspiracy theories made about his resurgence on “Bling Blaww Burr,” when he croaks, “Think I’m a clone but if they cut me this sauce gon ooze out.” Woptober oscillates between silliness and introspection with such lulled pacing, it’s easy to mistake one for the other. “Love Her Body” is a dive into Gucci’s romantic self-awareness where he asks the ostensibly problematic philosophical question, “Do I love my bitch or am I in love with her body?” Laying bear the conflicting notion of true love with his instinctual carnality reveals a depth that, many claim, is lacking in trap music.
Gucci’s aesthetic remains pretty unchanged from his earlier work. He’s always been an ultra-productive, funny and tenacious emcee. Woptober is a resounding work that sees Gucci mastering his ability to fuck with our sense of reality. It’s quick-hitting fun that plays up his place as rap’s thoughtful jester to a T.