It must have been impossible for Gucci Mane — the 36 year old Atlanta-raised rapper who was just released from prison in June, but has already dropped two full-length albums since then — to know exactly how large his influence over hip-hop would become during his incarceration.
In 2012, when Gucci was convicted of firearm possession, the trap rap style that he helped usher to national attention had not only blossomed into a sub-genre, but by June 2016, his less technical, more stylish approach to writing lyrics had become a subject of emulation for countless other artists. Many of hip hop’s biggest stars — 21 Savage, Future, Young Thug, A$AP Ferg and more — seem to have inherited elements of their sound through Gucci Mane’s influence. Now that he is free, Guwop is an ultimate gatekeeper.
So what does it mean that last week, just hours before Thanksgiving and allegedly days away from the arrival of Gucci Mane’s next mixtape, The Return of East Atlanta Santa, the world was given 1017 vs. the World, a seven-track, collaborative EP by Gucci and reigning rookie of the year Lil Uzi Vert? It means that Guwop is officially endorsing Uzi as a part of his empire.
Earlier this year, Gucci released a track titled “All My Children” that celebrates the success of those he has influenced with lines like: “Stop the track to tell my children that I’m proud of them.” On 1017, he’s not just applauding from a distance. Gucci is running around on a playground in Lil Uzi Vert’s colorful fantasyland.
1017 vs. the World is a gift to the culture from two of its most eccentric, exciting and cartoonish ambassadors. The beats are provided almost exclusively by longtime Atlanta affiliates Zaytoven and Honorable C.N.O.T.E, while Uzi’s erratic vocal inflections juxtapose Gucci’s classically cold, straightforward rhyme patterns to create a tug-of-war style trap project that blends youthful optimism with veteran realism.
On intro song “Changed My Phone,” Lil Uzi calls himself “Invader Zim” because “[he’s] not from this earth” while Guwop is busy talking about business, dropping the boastful lines: “I’m signed to me, I’m managed by me, shit I feel like I’m pimpin’ me.”
Later, on “Fresh,” Gucci Mane cuts deep by calling himself a “coke dealer dressed like a rap figure” while Lil Uzi Vert is caught up on his “Red Gucci leather” and “Raf Simons sweater.” Though they’re united by hip hop and the status that it’s afforded them, these artists are orbiting on two different axes.
Lil Uzi Vert is just starting out, having released three mixtapes since 2015. Though he has ridden their acclaim to top of his class, he is still yet to release an album. Yet, despite his rookie status, Lil Uzi Vert remains in control for most of 1017 vs. the World. Gucci Mane does not appear on “Today” at all, and though airtime is basically equal on other songs, those with Uzi on the hook tend to be more exciting than “Blond Brigitte,” the only track on which Gucci dominates the microphone.
There’s something fresh and modern about Uzi’s screechy crooning, even if it does become borderline piercing upon one’s sixteenth listen of the EP. When placed so plainly aside Gucci Mane, a veteran who we have already heard from plenty, perhaps more so than any other rapper, it seems inevitable that Uzi would emerge as the main event. Still, Guwop’s stamp of approval is sure to serve him well.
In the few days since the release of 1017 vs. the World, both rappers have already dropped new music. Gucci Mane released “St. Brick Intro,” the opening song for his upcoming holiday project, while Lil Uzi Vert posted videos of himself head-bobbing to a new song on Twitter. Eventually, this EP may be confusedly bundled up in the back of our minds along with the 10 or 20 other projects that we can expect to hear from these two artists.
However, right now, it’s perfectly fit to act as a buffer between their more serious releases, to help boost Uzi — who is set as the opening act for the Weeknd’s upcoming world tour — to superstar status and to further Gucci’s online buzz. This EP is full of fun songs and ultimate Guwop one-liners like: “Pockets looking like an encyclopedia / Baseball money like Derek Jeter.” I’m going to have it on loop for a while; I suspect the same is true for a lot of eager fans.