The holidays are a time for hanging with family, getting drunk, and thinking about how time flies (that Rico Nasty song has been on repeat for me because of the Madden 20 trac-klist). It’s also a time for the self-proclaimed trap god to release another project in the midst of the quietest month of the year for big album releases.
Gucci Mane normally releases music during holiday seasons, though it’s never a surprise when he randomly drops something at any point throughout the year. Since his release from prison in 2016, Gucci has released eleven projects of varying length. A couple of them were collaborative projects, but most were solo.
A new season typically means Gucci will transform into some type of alter ego for his diehard fans. He can be seen as a human glacier during the winter, in a droptop during the summer, and some form of frankenstein during the Halloween season. Gucci has become a chameleon of sorts, finding creative ways to keep listeners entertained. Let’s be honest, there’s only so many times you can talk about your drug dealing and gun-slinging before it turns mind-numbing.
One of the more popular personas he represents is the East Atlanta Santa character. In my opinion, some of his best work has come during the Christmas time. The Return of East Atlanta Santa in late 2016 contained a satisfying crossover of pop rap and trap rap. Frequent collaborator and Atlanta legend Zaytoven brought his signature keys and Christmas-inspired keyboard work, and Gucci used snow as a metaphor for cocaine movement. Everyone was in their comfort zone.
Recently, Gucci released the third installment of this franchise titled East Atlanta Santa 3. There’s no Drake or Travis Scott on this one so most mainstream listeners probably won’t care for it. Not to mention, it’s his second project in three months (he released Woptober II in October). The numbers aren’t out yet, but I doubt it finds the top ten on the Billboard, even during the quietest moment of the year for music.
That shit doesn’t matter though, and Gucci probably doesn’t care. Him and Wiz Khalifa are in very similar positions in their career. Both have made their hits, both influenced rap in some way, and both have comfortably settled into their roles as elder statesmen making music for their respective fanbases. Wiz did this with Rolling Papers 2 and Fly Times Vol. 1. Not everyone cares about these projects but neither artists gives a shit about that.
I’ve been a huge Gucci Mane apologist for quite some time now. I think his tape with Metro Boomin Droptopwop is one of the more underrated rap projects of the decade. And though Mr. Davis was a tad less focused, at least there were bangers sprinkled throughout most of the run time.
On East Atlanta Santa 3, Gucci gets more creative than most would realize. Songs like “Jingle Bales Intro,” “Snow,” and “12 Days of Christmas” are clever ways to flip classic Christmas carols into hardcore street anthems. Selling coke and buying guns never felt more fun. Producer J. White does his best Zaytoven impression utilizing glittering keys and melodic sleigh bells to add that wintry feel.
Gucci introduces his other sub-personas as well like on the nasty “Mr. Wop.” I don’t know who’s doing that voice on the chorus but it is fucking fire. Gucci makes one of many references to the grinch on the album, and highlights his tendencies to put artists in a coffin. The song could’ve honestly been a part of that Grinch soundtrack from a year ago.
The middle of the project leaves much to be desired, especially when Gucci settles back into mediocre trap bangers like on “She Miss Me” and “Magic City.” Most of the time however, he does a lot of the R&B crossovers justice. “More” and “Slide” are club slow jams, as is “Dirty Dancer.” Even if Gucci isn’t always the standout performance, he at least knows how to compliment the artists he works with. Quavo even steps out of his recent monotone output for more colorful vocal work on “Tony” and “Slide.”
East Atlanta Santa 3 is a pleasant surprise for the trap legend. I laughed a lot, jammed a lot, and sang a lot. For 16 songs, the project feels like a breeze. Gucci knows when to start and end an idea without it growing old. That’s probably his greatest strength nowadays. Because it’s Christmas-inspired, some songs may sound out of season by February.But it’s alright, because he’ll probably morph into one of his great alter-egos by then anyway. He’s always gifting us with more music. These specific set of songs showcase Gucci as an artist reminiscing about the past while basking in the present. As he says on “She Miss Me,” “the present is a gift, the future is a mystery, and the past is history.” Wise words from one of the godfather’s of modern rap music.
Other Music to Check Out
The new Jackboys tape is out. Some of it works (Young Thug’s sex talk is amazing), some of it doesn’t (the “Highest in the Room” remix sounds kind of jagged). Glad to see Travis putting his boys in the spotlight though. I cant wait for that Don Tolliver project. Also, Pop Smoke continues to rap like he’s spitting out bullets, and then eating them again.
Also, I forgot to put Lord Felix in one of my roundups earlier this fall, but I love how he’s becoming a large face of Massachusetts rap. He’s brining house music to my home state and doing a great job of utilizing the Chicago style for his own benefit. Can’t wait to see what Van Buren Records has to offer. Check out his debut album below. It’s called In Bloom, Forever.