Tonight on Twitter, Atlanta rapper Gucci Mane finally lost it.
Gucci’s Twitter account has shown signs of this for some time now – he’s started expressing his own opinion more than simply RTing the views of others, the punctuation and spacing has become increasingly bizarre, and over the last fortnight he’s been publicly squabbling with former mate Waka Flocka Flame, claiming he’d sell the rights to Waka to the highest bidder (we’re not sure exactly how that would work, and we doubt Gucci does either). But tonight was his Vietnam. His Heart of Darkness. Or perhaps more accurately, given just how alarming and weird those spacing issues got, his Finnegans Wake. And it was fucking insane.
No topic was off bounds. Gucci claimed to have spit-roasted Tyga’s partner Blac Chyna (Waka was at the other end, and weirdest of all, mixtape motor-mouth DJ Holiday was apparently watching). He claimed that Drake’s a groupie who tried to copy him by having a Vine account, that he has pictures to prove that he had sex with Nicki Minaj, and that he has a video to prove that Rocko, after turning up at Gucci’s house in the midst of all this, was sent running when Gucci kicked him in the ass “with his house shoes on” (he also alluded to pulling a gun on him). At one point Gucci Tweeted himself to say “don’t DM me”. Oh, and Big Cat’s Jacob York needs to “stop fucking kids”. It could, of course, turn out to be a hack, as Gucci’s brother has claimed, but when you consider how long it all went on for, this Tweet by Nicki, and the fact that it turns out Gucci’s texts are in the same style, it seems unlikely. Atlantic certainly think it’s real.
As entertaining as all this was, at the heart of it is the fact that Gucci Mane is clearly not well (it’s worth noting that Nicki Minaj talked about Gucci’s health in an interview back in April), and it’s a very specific type of insanity that’s taken over him. This is more than just a rich man doing too much blow and losing the plot, it’s like a wild animal that’s been held captive too long and started clawing its own eyes out. Gucci might have once that claimed that “the dope game hard, the rap game easy”, but in the last week he appears to have completely run out of patience with it, and in amongst the madness currently dominating his Twitter feed, I’m pretty sure there’s some truth there too. “Everyone in the industry has a hidden agenda, every person lets greed and pride conquer them”, he Tweeted early in the evening.
Without falling too hard into clichés, Gucci’s one of the few people in hip-hop who has lived a lot of the stuff he raps about, and has seen, for instance, a man die. This doesn’t make him a good person – in fact, one only needs to take a cursory glance through his criminal record to establish that he’s done some pretty bad things – but it does mean that when he stops holding his thoughts in, there’s going to be some real shit that comes out. He’s lost the ability to play the game, and although it’s tragic, at the same time real heroes are often born in their demise.
It’s why Diego Maradona, a chalk-shovelling, gun-toting bastard who still owes the Italian government 37 million euros in taxes from his time spent living in Naples (to date, he’s paid them 40 grand, a pair of watches and a set of earrings) will always be an idol, and why his old rival Pele will forever be a dullard who spent his later years buddied up with FIFA shilling Viagra. It’s why Rowland S. Howard will always be the coolest member of the Birthday Party, because he only managed to release two solo records – one of which is a masterpiece – before drinking himself to death, while Nick Cave makes Grinderman albums. It’s why when Paul Gascoigne finally snuffs it, we’ll remember his angelic right foot and neglect the right hand that spent far too many years punching his wife, and when Alan Shearer passes people will think ‘well, at least he’s not on Match of the Day anymore’.
If Gucci’s lost his mind, then it goes some way to explaining the musical year he’s had: he’s released eight mixtapes and an album since February. When you don’t feel that you can trust those around you – or, to paraphrase Minaj in that interview I mentioned earlier, you can’t block out the noise around you – a natural response is to turn inwards, and Gucci’s 2013 run has contained some of his most personal, strange music to date.
On ‘Hell Yes’, released in March, Gucci muses on life, the universe and nothing, all through Auto-Tune. It’s clearly inspired by Future, one of the few Gucci associates who he’s yet to publicly burn his bridges with, but it’s probably weirder than anything Future’s released. At points on it, Gucci wants to give up the game and settle down (“I don’t wanna be a player no more / Zone 6, I can’t be your mayor no more”), rejecting money and thanking the stars for the one girl that’s “stayed down through all my ups and downs.” At others, he claims that he’ll never be broke, brags about how much drugs him and his mates do and reckons he went platinum in Australia (I can’t find any evidence that this is actually true, by the way). Even stranger, for a while the only version of ‘Hell Yes’ you could find was a clean edit, which as Joe Muggs pointed out in the FACT Singles Club, “just makes it all the weirder, like holes you can see the void through”. It’s confused, incoherent, tragic and beautiful, and Gucci sounds on the edge throughout it. If this is how he goes out, it should accompany his end credits.
To many, Gucci Mane’s simply a dumb-ass with worse grammar than Chief Keef, but to me he’s like the last of the Mohicans; a rap Oogie Boogie with a comedy pot belly and a Bart Simpson chain who once got so fucked up he thought it was a good idea to tattoo an ice cream cone shooting lightning bolts on the side of his face, fell asleep having sex on Spring Breakers, and after over 50 mixtapes and albums still raps like he’s got nothing to lose. He revolutionised the mixtape game, has put countless younger rappers on, and knocks out great hooks like it’s second nature. There will never be another Guwop, and to me, the fact that he’s a drug-addled lunatic who once went fishing in his own jacuzzi simply adds to his hero status. Gucci, never change. Music needs people like you more than ever.