With last year’s The State vs. Radric Davis proving that Gucci Mane could translate his street stardom into making a commercially viable release, the groundwork for the trilogy was set. Whereas Gucci was incarcerated during the 2009 release in one of Rap’s more fitting album titles, this year, the Brick Squad 1017 leader is out and diversifying. Like his first installment, The Appeal: Georgia’s Most Wanted is a big budget, guest-heavy release that distinguishes a Gucci Mane album from his endless supply of mixtapes. However, the Atlanta, Georgia mainstay still has yet to show the mainstream what the streets have been pointing out for the last five years.
Gucci Mane plays to his strengths: deceptively simple production, catchy hooks, and playful flows and adlibs. Aside from the brawny basslines of “Weirdo,” southern heavyweights Drumma Boy and Zaytoven disappoint with formulaic beats that seem to rely on Gucci Mane’s charisma instead of being able to contribute to the song. Fortunately, lesser-known producer collaborators—DJ B-Do and Joey French, and Schife and OhZee—outshine their reputable counterparts on the Bun B-featured “Lil Friend” and “Making Love To The Money” with trunk-rattling percussion and busty horns and organs. Even Swizz Beatz uses “Gucci Time” to showcase a paced adrenaline shot that complements Gucci’s simplicity without falling victim to it. As far as the rhymes go, Gucci’s song concepts are trite at best: “Making Love To the Money” and “Brand New” are about exactly what their titles imply. But his fun, infectious hooks guarantee singalongs in clubs and whips nationwide; those leary of the repetitive subject matter may enjoy the songs in limited doses at parties or in “shuffle” mode with the rest of their music library.
But some may check The Appeal based on Gucci’s comments during a press conference after leaving prison this past May, in which he claimed that the Rap game needed “substance” and that he would provide it. Only one song does this, but it does so brilliantly. On “Grown Man” Gucci closes the album by matching Jim Jonsin‘s synthy winner and Estelle’s triumphant hook with honest verses that lament fallen or imprisoned loved ones, admit wrong and pushes to move on. But other attempted change-ups fall short. “ODog” shows promise with a layered, pensive Inkredibles backdrop and a defiant Wyclef Jean chorus that beams success despite prison setbacks and stereotypes, but Gucci’s verses don’t stray from the usual flossing and chick-snatching. And “Remember When” the trite Ray J-assisted attempt at female seduction, is weighed down with lines like, “We go together like hamburgers and french fries.”
The Appeal doesn’t go too far left to make Gucci Mane’s detractors change their minds, and it doesn’t go too far right to make his fans love him anymore than they already do. When he stays in his lane and makes his producers stay with him, Mayor Gucci can serve his faithful constituents with the anthems that fuel their every day lives (or at least weekends). But when he doesn’t have all his cylinders running, the results are disappointing at best and catastrophic at worst. Either way, he begins and ends the disc as Georgia’s Most Wanted: for the career electric chair by his detractors, and for hood mayor by his disciples.