In the year and a half after being released from a life-changing prison sentence, prolific Atlanta trap king Gucci Mane issued nine efforts, capping off 2017 with his 11th studio album, Mr. Davis. At this stage in his game, it was safe to say that the new Gucci era hit its stride, and on Mr. Davis, Guwop finally assembled the best statement to represent his new mindset and outlook on life. While works like Everybody Looking and Woptober were competent and enjoyable trap exercises, they were yet more of the same, two more albums that were mostly interchangeable with The Return of the East Atlanta Santa and Drop Top Wop. Which is why Mr. Davis stands out as perhaps his best post-prison effort: the songs pop, the production is memorable, and the guests weave effortlessly into their respective tracks without detracting from Gucci's signature delivery. Featuring production by frequent collaborators like Zaytoven, Metro Boomin, and Southside, Mr. Davis is home to catchy beats and hypnotic atmosphere, like on the crackling "Back On" and the woozy "Members Only." The ominous, Migos-featuring Metro/Southside collaboration "I Get the Bag" glides through a cavernous hollow, while Mike WiLL Made-It weaves a twisted, oddly Björk-like beat that allows Slim Jxmmi, Young Dolph, and Gucci to go toe to toe on "Stunting Ain't Nuthin." Other guests provide further highlights, like Big Sean on the haunting "Changed"; ScHoolboy Q on a typically menacing "Lil Story"; and Nicki Minaj on a scorching "Make Love." A crop of R&B singers also appear to smooth out the rough rap edges. While the Weeknd and Ty Dolla $ign provide reliable vocals, a surprise appearance by Monica on "We Ride" and a contribution by Rico Love on "Miss My Woe" elevate these tracks above the crowd and provide rewarding breaks to the steady stream of brags and sex-and-hustling rhymes. The best combination of rap bravado and vocal soul is on the tough Chris Brown collaboration, "Tone It Down," which delivers an addictive flute-sample earworm that begs for radio play. For all the accessible songs -- which make up the majority of Mr. Davis -- Gucci is sure to include a handful of blunt confessionals, like the brutally honest "Money Make Ya Handsome" and the vulnerable intro ("Work in Progress") and closer ("Made It"). These are triumphant moments for Gucci, whose efforts to turn his life around and live a healthier lifestyle are clearly sources of pride for the rapper. For all the big-bass boomers and required rap boasting, it's nice to hear some positivity and sincerity. As Gucci reflects on his life thus far, Mr. Davis is an appropriate way to commemorate his road to recovery with this testament to how far he's come.
Mr. Davis Review
by Neil Z. Yeung
|13||Gucci Mane feat: Nicki Minaj||05:02||Amazon|