"To all whom this may concern," Gucci Mane tweeted two days after the release of his latest album, "I would take my hip honors or legend award now why I'm young active and attractive #MrDavis brrrr."
Mr. Davis is the 11th studio album from Gucci, 12 years removed from the 2005 single "Icy" featuring Young Jeezy, Lil' Will and Boo that first established the hit-making prowess of trap-rap's godfather. Real name Radric Davis, Gucci Mane's 17-track, 61-minute Mr. Davis is a mixture of grit, love, pain and unrivaled charisma that adds another notch of success to the belt of a man whose career is now old enough to be a freshman in high school.
On "Work in Progress", the album's raw, self-reflective opening, Gucci bestows a note of sympathy and understanding on those like him who strayed toward sin. "I think these killers need a hug, I need a hug too," raps Mane in his iconic southern style, "But I forgive, I been forgiven, I hold grudges too/ I'm just a work in progress, I'm not even through."
Just four years ago, in September 2013, Atlanta Police arrested Gucci. The rapper was sentenced to about three years and eventually released early for a federal firearms charge.
A rare prison system success story, post-prison Gucci will be a first-ballot hall of famer in the field of life resurrection. He's sober now, ditching his gang ties for friendships with the likes of Malcolm Gladwell and even penning an autobiography that is currently the number one best seller on Amazon in the seemingly narrow "Rap & Hip-Hop Musician Biographies" category. His face, once bloated by longtime chronic lean and marijuana abuse, is now lean with a chiseled jawline, an outward reflection of internal metamorphosis.
The Kanye West of Atlanta by way of Alabama, Gucci Mane is and always has been a master curator of featured artists for his projects. Uncanny energy and prodigious ad-libbing from the men of Migos propelled "I Get The Bag" to the 24th spot on the Billboard Hot 100. A star-studded line-up unfolds throughout the course of Mr. Davis, including appearances from ScHoolboy Q, Chris Brown, The Weeknd, Nicki Minaj and A$AP Rocky. Rico Love, a lesser-known but nonetheless extremely accomplished name, steals the show with the powerful and gorgeous hook to "Miss My Woe," a song about fallen friends.
"Took a shot of D'usse, now I'm missin' my woe," sings Love with his soft, sultry tone. "Always stay on 10 like the six and the four/ I still can't believe you won't be hitting my phone."
Life is fragile, and Gucci Mane is well-aware. Several of his acquaintances and close friends, including Atlanta rappers Shawty Lo and Bankroll Fresh, left this world too young, in violent fashion. One stray bullet, one too many pills or double cups, and Gucci Mane could have met the same fate, ending his inspirational transformation before it ever began.
Still "young active and attractive," it's no wonder why Gucci wants an advance on his lifetime achievement honors.