After three years behind bars, Atlanta rapper Gucci Mane emerged to a scene that had transformed in his absence. With the mainstreaming of trap music and the rise of mushy-mouthed lyrical slurring, he needed to remind the world of his presence. On Everybody Looking, Gucci Mane reasserted his position as a pioneer of the subgenre. Newly sober and slimmed down, Gucci purged years of pent-up emotion over 14 hungry tracks, which were recorded in less than a week. Despite the consistent flow of mixtapes that he somehow issued while in prison, Everybody Looking is the true follow-up to 2011's The Return of Mr. Zone 6, with hypnotic production courtesy of familiar faces Mike Will Made-It and Zaytoven. The beats are meaty and the bars packed with some of Gucci's most boastful and defiant lyrics. From the opening "No Sleep" -- where he proclaims "I can't even sleep I got so much to say!" before laying into the feds, cops, and district attorney who put him away -- it's apparent that Gucci is working through his bitterness, but he doesn't waste too much time dwelling on that part of his past. Instead, he makes sure to remind the youngsters of his own legacy in the game ("All My Children" being the clearest salvo). On "Guwop Home," he even enlists spiritual spawn Young Thug on a master-apprentice duet. Kanye West drops in on vulgar highlight "Pussy Print" while Drake -- who also owes a lot to Gucci -- lends his nasally flow to "Back on Road." Unlike career highlight The State vs. Radric Davis, Everybody Looking doesn't rely on excessive guest spots. Aside from the three high-profile appearances, everything else here is Gucci. The booming "Waybach," the menacing "Pop Music," and the defiant "Richest Nigga in the Room" are all highlights, but as far as emotional payoff, "1st Day Out That Feds" is the big winner. The first song he recorded after his release on May 26, 2016, "1st Day" reflects on the wave of changes and emotions in his post-incarceration life. He raps, "I did some things to some people that was downright evil/Is it karma coming back to me, so much drama/My own mama turned her back on me, and that's my mama!" This introspection cuts through the typical boasting and call-outs, providing insight into Gucci's state of mind. It's cathartic, effective, and one of the better songs in his catalog. By the end of this comeback, he plants his flag firmly with the declaration that he is a "T-R-A-P-G-O-D." It's hard to argue the claim, as Everybody Looking is one of the best examples of Gucci Mane's contributions to rap in his highly prolific catalog.
AllMusic Review by Neil Z. Yeung