Gucci Mane is no stranger to working prolifically, but 2013 has been an especially fruitful year for the Atlanta rapper. He’s dropped five solo mixtapes, four collaborative projects, and the Bricksquad compilation album is set to debut this fall. Earlier this month, Gucci released “World War 3: Molly, Gas, Lean”, a triumvirate of mixtapes rivaled in magnitude only by his 2009 trilogy “Cold War: Guccimerica, Great Brrritian, and Brrrussia”. Cancel all your afternoon appointments for a day, and you might have enough time to make it through all three—there are 54 tracks, spanning a total of roughly 3 hours and 15 minutes. You’ll be rewarded handsomely, though, as World War 3 delivers a satisfying variety of Gucci-flavored tracks.
“Molly”, “Gas”, and “Lean” don’t speak to any particular stylistic organization, but each tape features a different cast of producers: “Molly” includes Metro Boomin, Sonny Digital, and Dun Deal, “Gas” is a collective effort from the Bricksquad in-house production team 808 Mafia, while Zaytoven, C-Note, and Mike Will handle “Lean”. “Molly” and “Lean” are noticeably stronger than “Gas”, which amounts to little more than cookie-cutter, Lex Luger-style filler. “Molly” embodies the best of Gucci’s classic, effortless punchline delivery, with gems like “she got some big hips, I call that boy a hypocrite” and “your house ain’t bigger than my son room/ he turning eight soon, the Masi with the sun roof.” Making complex raps look bewilderingly simple is one of Gucci’s greatest strengths. That brilliance is most obvious during those soft, yet huge low-pass filter crush buildups of Metro Boomin’s beats: “I’m a walking work of art, body marked, getting smart dome/ gave me brain, bless her heart, taped it on my smartphone,” he says on “Don’t Look At Me.” Despite being a veteran of the southern mixtape circuit, Gucci rarely feels outdated when juxtaposed against newer rappers, and features from recent Bricksquad inductees Young Thug and Chief Keef (and a guy named Phil) indicate his attentiveness to rising talent.
“Lean” expands on this trend with guest verses from PeeWee Longway and Young Scooter, as well as bigger-name features like French Montana, 2 Chainz, and Future. Zaytoven’s eight years of collaboration with Gucci have produced some of the rapper’s most memorable tracks, and highlights like “Done With Her” and “I Quit” embody the signature uptempo hi-hat and keyboard combination that captures the spirit of their 2008-2010 golden age (not that Zaytoven ever really fell off, of course). Gucci’s double-time flow also resurfaces on “Intro” to great effect: “so I just pulled up in a Enzo, ho/Guwop came back in a Bentley on fours/pour me a four and forgot where to go/in a ghost but I’m lost just like Weezy and Zoe.” Deep references like that will only reveal themselves after repeated listens, and that’s precisely where Gucci excels—his unassuming lyrical style unfolds before you like a magic eye puzzle after hours of study. While you wait for that to happen, though, you have to sit and focus until you get dizzy.
Stream: Gucci Mane – Done With Her (feat. French Montana)
Gucci Mane’s World War 3: Molly, Gas and Lean are all out now. Download via Atrilli.