By Matt Stieb
on Wed, Jul 27, 2016 at 9:00 AM
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Out of jail after a three year federal stint, Gucci Mane knows that every marquee name and SoundCloud bench warmer is truly looking at him. Though he's been riding the past few years of this international wave of Atlanta dominance by proxy, it was Gucci's ad libs and team-building that paved a path for Waka Flocka Flame, Mike Will, Zaytoven and Young Thug to cruise to the top of the charts.
Everybody Looking, and they want to hear Gucci's post-prison mixtape, after releasing 11 mixes from an Indiana jail cell just last year. Everybody Looking, and it's why Gucci hasn't had a shirt on in a promo pic yet — a big dude in influence and stature, Guwop toned and sobered up while waiting out his gun possession charge. Everybody Looking, and it's why Gucci is at his best since "Everybody Looking," a track of the same name from 2010.
In Reeboks and an ankle bracelet, Gucci sounds relieved to be putting out new work, despite dreaming of killers breaking into his room. Like his boasts of hard, East Atlanta life, he backs up his claim on "First Day Out That Feds" —
Gucci rushed home to record the cut on his first day of house arrest.
On the proper opener "Out Do Ya," Gucci rips on the rappers who haven't been keeping up with his torrent of back catalogue mixes. "How you let a nigga in the feds outdo ya," he asks, a coach disappointed with his players' performance. In his ad-lib, an embarassed-for-you "wow," you can almost hear the judgement of a Trump tweet. Sad!
Gucci's lyricism has always had its own internal logic and sense of humor; in that sense, Everybody Looking isn't much of a departure. He maintains a gallows humor on "Robbed" — “I reminisce about the day I got robbed / I ain’t ashamed to say I got robbed / It’s a beautiful day, someone gon’ get robbed.” As usual, he's rhyming words with the same word. And as usual, there's some questionable messages for his parole officer. "So East Atlanta still got all my old hammers," he slurs on "Pop Music," a song named after the soundtrack of gunfire. There might not be an all-time, "Lemonade"-like classic in the mix, but given that it was recorded in six days, there's high hopes for the free, clean Gucci Mane.
There is one major advancement on Everybody Looking, a surprise in the track sequencing. Drake pops in for the hook on "Back on Road," over a Zelda-style pan flute on which only Gucci can sound cool. For the next song, the Zaytoven-produced "Waybach" Gucci shines praise on his longtime producer — "Yeah, you know I fuck with Zaytoven, we go way back / I'd rather rap a Zay track than a Drake track." That's the type of gift that only the east Atlanta Santa knows how to give. One can only imagine the little "yeh" of sadness drake omitted after hearing the song after his feature.