Before Gucci Mane went to prison in September 2013, his life wasn’t in terrific shape. He was an overweight, self-described drug addict with a kidney-killing pint-a-day dependence on lean. He had become a habitual bridge burner, alienating allies in the industry with his volatile behavior and a number of head-scratching Twitter rants. And then he was gone.
The Atlanta rapper released an unreal number of projects while inside the federal prison system, between September 2013 and May of this year, taking the adage “back like I never left” to new heights when he finally came home a few months early to much fanfare.
Sober and looking like a changed man, his keg belly transformed into a cold six-pack while on the inside, it was all eyes on Wop for the Friday release of his ninth solo LP, Everybody Looking. Gucci sticks to the script on the new project, staying close to his trap roots by working with frequent collaborators Zaytoven, Mike WiLL Made-It, Southside, and Drumma Boy.
He didn’t lose any clout in the bing either, and proves his relevancy with the help of guest appearances from some of the hottest rappers out, including Drake (“Back on Road”), Kanye West (“Pussy Print”), and Young Thug (“Guwop Home”), who was just starting to bubble via Gucci’s 1017 BrickSquad when Mane got locked up.
The current chapter of La Flare’s post-prison life has been mostly viewed through Snapchat clips. The terms of his house arrest make it difficult for the new, toned (and possibly cloned?) Zone 6 rapper to do anything more than keep a low profile. Which is what made his first show after his bid such an event.
The Trap God returned to reclaim his throne Friday night, hosting his official homecoming concert, dubbed, “Gucci Mane and Friends,” at Atlanta’s famed Fox Theatre on the night of the album release.
Before the show began, anticipation and high-grade weed smoke had the nearly 5,000-person capacity theater feeling thick. What was a half-full venue quickly turned into a sea of humanity once Gucci emerged from behind the curtain shortly before 9 p.m., in a shimmering black jacket that Liberace would’ve been proud of.
He set the tempo with his The State vs. Radric Davis intro “Classical” before rolling into his deep catalog of bangers, including “Lemonade,” “Photo Shoot,” “Go Head,” and “Freaky Girl”—his signature pregnant strut still in effect despite his weight loss.
Keyshia Ka’oir, his supportive girlfriend, joined the fun, dancing seductively in a skin-tight sequined two piece outfit with the words “sex” prominently written in yellow letters on the top and bottom, for the single “I Think I Love Her.”
A photo posted by Gucci Mane (@laflare1017) on Jul 23, 2016 at 6:59am PDT
OJ the Juiceman was the first rap friend to show up to the party, for a rendition of “Make the Trap Say Aye.” Gucci Mane looked visibly happy to be united with his Bouldercrest Road brethren, rapping OJ’s verse word-for-word with a Kool-Aid smile. “This is Gucci and Friends—let’s bring out some more friends,” DJ Holiday yelled from his place behind the 1s and 2s.
At different points of the night, Peewee Longway, Young Dolph, Fetty Wap, and 2 Chainz all contributed.
Gucci, who was at that point rocking a cow-print sequined vest, launched into more hits like “Bird Flu,” “That’s My Hood,” and “Making Love to the Money.”
“I got so many hits, we gone be here for a minute,” he said with a smile, showing off his pearly white veneers. For someone who hasn’t performed in three years, the tatted-up rapper was noticeably crisp, remembering his lyrics, even for the older material.
When Future came jogging onto the stage to “Stick Talk,” a deafening roar ripped through the crowd. Drake’s appearance officially broke the knob off. By the time Hendrix and Aubrey collaborated on “Jumpman,” the entire building felt like it was about to bust at the seams—you could feel the floor undulating beneath the feet of the super ignited crowd.
“Shout out to the legend Gucci Mane,” the 6 God declared after the two performed “Back on Road.” He was right. This was Gucci’s night. Back to the trap house. Like he never left.