Compilation tapes such as Revenge of the Dreamers III, We Are Young Money and The Re-Up have magnified the rap superstars of tomorrow and introduced the masses to a slew of promising new talent at their best. But at their worst, compilation tapes have barely moved the dial and instead, have caused new artists to become trapped under their boss’s shadow.

Giving each rapper the space to flex their own unique styles is a tough balancing act to pull off when everyone’s given the same stage but with So Icy Boyz, Gucci Mane, who has become one of the best A&Rs in rap, has stepped up to the challenge, releasing three compilation albums in the last year alone.

The sentiment behind these excessive compilation releases seems genuine. He’s emerged as a sought after taste-maker, and these recent releases depict Gucci as a proud uncle. He’s thrilled about this new 1017 roster – he refers to them as the “Trap Avengers” – and he wants fans to be excited, too.

But out of the other So Icy releases, So Icy Boyz is the most sluggish. The instrumentals rely on the same ticking high-hats and looped piano trills Zaytoven and Gucci helped popularize in trap music, making it hard for the 1017 class to break away from their label head’s influence. BigWalkDog, the most highlighted rapper on the tape who appears on six songs, particularly falls victim. His hook on “Whole Lotta Ice” is repetitive and grating. On “Trap God,” he tries to follow in Gucci’s footsteps with a similar cadence, attempting to cleverly rap about being as “fresh as Listerine” with diminishing returns.

Gucci Mane Demands Freedom For Current And Former 1017 Artists

Pooh Shiesty and Texas-based crooner Enchanting, two of the most promising members of the new 1017, are also nowhere to be found on this project except for two fleeting moments on “Whole Lotta Ice” and “Never Trust a Soul.” When Pooh does step up to the mic, he sleepwalks through his spots, dragging his feet with a few mundane bars. “It’s a whole lotta, whole lotta ice on my neck,” he raps with lethargic energy. “Know I gotta protect with switch and the K/Gotta be dumb, tryna take some from me/Don’t stop when I’m blowin’, now he carried away.”

Maybe that’s why Gucci felt it necessary to add an additional 17 deluxe tracks to So Icy Boyz, a possible bid to make sure every member could get enough space to showcase their “Trap Avenger” superpowers. It’s an admirable idea but in execution, the project’s deluxe edition further dilutes each rapper’s talents.

There are a few exceptions. Foogiano’s maundering Auto-Tuned flow glistens over the glitchy reverb of “Dead In Miami,” and he reflects on a planned assassination with an unflinching eye for detail. Big Scarr’s gruff voice glides on “From Da South,” though at times he does sound bored as he flexes his “million-dollar phone” and VLONE clothes.

While So Icy Boyz as a compilation tape feels incidental, there’s still plenty of reason to believe Gucci Mane has gathered a promising group of signees. In each of their solo outings, every member present on the new 1017 has proven to be exceptionally talented. But to bring them all together and place them over such traditional trap sounds seems like a disservice to their individuality.

Many of the artists here rest complacently in their comfort zone and, as a result, curate lyrics full of hollow flexes instead of something more substantial. So Icy Boyz ultimately seems like it was meant to be a light-hearted affair, but the resulting project instead reminds listeners how heavy Gucci Mane’s influence hangs over each of these artists.

Unable to escape his shadow, the resulting project fails to justify why the average listener should care about the new 1017, despite their promise.

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