Gucci Mane, “Evil Genius”
It’s undeniable that Gucci Mane is a prolific artist who has changed the course of rap and pop music. Because of this formidable rep, the expectations for Gucci’s singular 2018 release were not only higher, but there was a peckish desire for the kind of innovation and risk that initially accompanied his prowess. Though Gucci told Billboard earlier this year that he hoped Evil Genius would be his best project yet, it’s undoubtedly…not.
Gucci Mane has triumphed over significant adversity within the past five years. But on Evil Genius, his raps about his past are piled with repetitive tropes and uncreative imagery. Some songs feel extraneous, like “On God” or “Mad Russian,” while others are just plain dull, like “Hard Feelings” and “Money Callin” (though the Kardashian line on the latter is worth a chuckle). With Quavo at his side on the hypnotic “BiPolar,” Gucci raps about his unpredictable choices. He has reportedly been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and this track may be a way of surpassing the stigma, reclaiming the diagnosis. Ultimately, however, his delivery comes off somewhat reductive and ignorant; once again, the beat outshines Gucci’s lyricism. Major production and feature credits are there to uplift Evil Genius where Gucci falls short, so it’s certainly his most orchestrated and polished project, if nothing else.
Not all of Gucci’s luster is lost through these eighteen tracks. “Father’s Day” interpolates a childlike melody over a hard-hitting, bleak backbeat as he raps about his overarching influence (“Hell, all these rappers my children”). It’s dynamic and riveting, with Metro Boomin highlighting Gucci’s deserved and bitter confidence; Spiffy Global’s production on “Lost Y’all Mind” is good too, warped and eerie. On “I’m Not Goin,’” Gucci whines like a resolute toddler—but while his tone is juvenile, he’s also empowered in his affluence and power, promising that he won’t back away from the empire he’s built anytime soon.