In the wake of Gucci Mane’s surprise release from prison, guest columnist Calvin Davis reflects on the philosophical musings that the godfather of Trap has secretly introduced to the culture.
When Beyoncé announced that her forthcoming project was going to be titled Lemonade, there obviously was a lot of excitement and speculation about how the project was going to sound, going to look. You know, run-of-the-mill stuff whenever the Bey Hive leader decides to bless her subjects with something new. However, there was also a lot of social media posts saying that the only “Lemonade” that they would acknowledge is the song performed by none other than Gucci Mane La Flare.
Now of course, a lot of that is tongue in cheek, similar to how a lot of Gucci Mane’s lyrics can be considered tongue in cheek, but it did inspire me to go back and listen to “Lemonade” and then I fell down the rabbit hole. YouTube music video clips, Apple Music playlists, and songs I had forgotten that sound tracked many a basement party when I was a little bit younger; it was like I was reintroducing myself to his music but with a better ear to actually comprehend what Gucci was saying and what the audience was hearing. This was the conclusion I came up with: Gucci Mane is more “woke” than a lot of us in the hip-hop community might believe.
Now I’m not comparing Gucci to the stereotypical mainstream standard bearers of “conscious” hip-hop lyricism, the Lupe Fiasco’s, the Common’s, the Black Thought’s of the world. The sad and not-so-hidden truth about hip-hop culture is that a lot of our culture that we are so proud of, has deep roots in misogyny. Yes, Gucci Mane has his share of lyrics that will suggest that he is nowhere remotely close to being “woke” on any type of social issue, but the same can be said about your favorite artist, or my favorite artist, or the three artists that I previously mentioned in this piece. It unfortunately comes with the culture but that doesn’t disqualify any artist, including Gucci Mane, from dropping a couple nuggets regarding sexual fluidity, chivalry, and the dangers of overindulgence to let us know that they might be more aware than they let on.
“I love bad bitches so I’m a lesbian” was the original lyric that motivated me to delve into this topic deeper. Gucci Mane identifies himself as a heterosexual man throughout his lyrics, interviews, and whatever the case may be. We often fall into the fallacy that if a person doesn’t have a post-secondary education or isn’t polished enough that they must have an inability to grasp certain “complex” constructs and that is simply untrue. Here, Big Gucci showcases his understanding of fluid sexuality by juxtaposing his love for attractive women to a homosexual woman, intentionally mislabeling himself as a “lesbian” and showing the frivolousness of said labels that we force on people especially those who don’t fit inside our hetero-normative culture.
Chivalry, Modern Dating and Gender Roles
“Turn around Baby girl, damn you cute!/I ain’t tryna come at you like a prostitute!” Again, I’ve mentioned previously how ingrained misogyny is in the hip-hop culture, where women are treated less like human beings and more like achievements and trophies to be collected. We’ve often seen on social media, men lamenting the “gold diggers” of the world for only wanting material possessions and money, no matter how little the man has of either. Gucci, in this line, comes at the idea of courtship and male/female relations in a more refined way. He acknowledges interest in this particular woman directly and upfront, the preferred manner of communication according to most women and while also stating that he’s not just looking to impress said woman solely because of his financial status, expecting immediate gratification in exchange for monetary gain. Gucci understands that chivalry and courtship is still a prerequisite for most women but asking for said courtships doesn’t make her any less of a woman.
Self-Awareness, Delayed Gratification and Humility
“If a man doesn’t have sauce, then he’s lost. But the same man can be lost in the sauce.” This last one isn’t a lyric, but it is probably one of the most famous quotes that Gucci Mane ever had. Here, he discusses the importance of maintaining balance in your life. You don’t necessarily need to have money to reach your goals and dreams, but you have to have something, that special something that sets you apart from the rest, the “sauce” if you will. But if you don’t diversify your interests and solely focus on that one thing that you feel is your attribute that separates you from the others, you can become consumed by it and lose all sense of self-awareness when it comes to everything else around you. Moderation has always been key, and even though Gucci may not exercise it in every area of his life, it seems like he at least understands the concept. He also talks about in the video, the importance of patience. He lets the interviewer know that you can’t be born with the knowledge of what sets you apart, you have to learn it through experience, through that “seasoning” that only life can give you. Often times in this microwave generation, we expect instant gratification not only externally, but internally and when our self-growth goes slower than we expect, we get frustrated. All jokes aside, this is a lesson from Gucci that we can all take and apply into our own lives.
Gucci Mane LaWoke
Gucci Mane isn’t perfect, I know this. He has his flaws and his lyrics counteract everything previously stated. Does that make him a hypocrite or human? I understood from an early age that entertainers shouldn’t be my only source of role models so it has become fairly easy to me to separate the person from the performance. Gucci Mane has been convicted of multiple felonies, has admitted to murdering someone in court, and is a proud high school dropout. With all of those things being true, you can choose to disregard any and everything Gucci says, and it would be well within your right. My opinion is that would be a short-sighted decision. Inspiration and knowledge can and has come from all walks of life, and judging people purely based off what you heard about their past is a recipe for blocking advice that can help you reach your future. Gucci Mane is a lot of things to a lot of people including smarter than what he gets credit for.