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New Music: Gucci Mane and Future’s Free Bricks 2 is the Best Thing Either of Them Has Released in a While

ATLANTA, GA - JULY 22: Rapper Gucci Mane and rapper Future perform on stage at Gucci and Friends Homecoming Concert at Fox Theatre on July 22, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Atlantic Records)

Last night, Gucci Mane uploaded six poorly-labeled files to one of his Soundclouds. All of the songs featured his former collaborator Future, someone with whom Gucci had been seen associating with only marginally since his release from prison in May. As Gucci told Miss Info, the tracks had been recorded less than a day earlier, in an disclosed location, and quickly fast-tracked to the Internet.

The reckless abandon of the project—Free Bricks 2: Zone 6 Edition—seems more in line with Gucci’s prolific past than his more mellow and measured present. For Future, though, it’s a logical outgrowth of the frenetic pace he’s maintained over the past two years. What’s more notable, however, is how the Atlanta icons’s modes of addresses on the tape seem to hearken back to both of their formative work.

Gucci’s flows are not as uniformly dexterous and unpredictable as they were on his obsessive, unimpeachable mixtape run of the late 2000s. But there are some of the old, weirder flow gearshifts and cloying, unpredictable intonations. The 36-year-old rapper seems keyed up, clearly sticking to his basest, most immediate instincts. Rather than clinging to stock lines and tropes, he integrates some complete non-sequiturs, which have been scant in his work since he was released from prison in May: the pre-written, anecdotal victory lap Everybody Looking, and the safer, hook-chasing Woptober.

Recalling the Gucci evidenced on classic tapes like The Burrprint 3D and The Movie, there are plenty of Guwop’s customary self-reannouncements: “I’m Gucci Mane, I feel like Sosa/Moet mimosa, I got ’em/Smoking like a motor to meet the quota/This parking spot for kingpins, it’s reserved/I look like I just robbed a kingpin for 100 birds.” Firing off similes of widely varying effectiveness, flying through verses by the seat of his True Religions, rhyming Monica Lewinsky with Leonardo da Vinci, Gucci adheres to all the protocols traditionally associated with making an effective Gucci Mane verse.

Future, for his part, revisits the more oblique Autotune melodies of his Astronaut Status and Pluto days–there’s little of the more flat-toned, linear motor-mouthing of his 2015 and 2016 work. There is the impression that—since this release is a sequel to their only other collaborative project, 2011’s Free Bricksthe Atlanta icons were truly in a mood to recreate the musical dynamic of the original project, despite the fact that it was a product of a different moment in their career stylistically. Things have changed otherwise, too: Future, once one of Gucci’s more tangential protégés, is now a legitimate crossover star. By now, he has logged more full-length projects and singles in the upper echelons of the Billboard Hot 100 and albums charts than his mentor.

Despite these developments, it’s still clear that Gucci is setting the stone on Free Bricks 2, and staying true to himself. As Gucci describes in his first verse on the tape, Future is “pouring the lean like its whiskey,” but five years after their last exclusive studio bout, Gucci is now resisting the urge to join in. Yet Gucci exhibits the same uninhibited inventiveness behind the mic that he displayed in his younger days of self-discovery, during which he was struggling with addiction. Future, meanwhile, seems to be trying to create a new version of an older self, and spin out featherweight hooks that match the energy of his former idol.

Bolstered by a couple of great, vintage Gucci chant-along choruses—”This the kind a dope that make your uncle sell his TV/If I told you cocaine numbers then you probably wouldn’t believe me…” on “Kind a Dope,” most notably—Free Bricks 2 offers plenty of shining moments that will satiate traditionalist Gucci fans and newer trap-music converts alike. It’s a clear snapshot of all the tropes and techniques that have made trap such a resilient and increasingly influential genre in popular music over the past decade.

It also reminds us that trap music’s greatest figureheads boast bigger-than-life personalities that ooze off the track, and seem to transcend the formal conventions of the genre. They can sell any wisecrack or passing simile, whether it lands or not, with the right energy supporting them. To twist so many familiar gestures into something that truly stands out, you need the right kernel of inspiration. Just a little over 24 hours ago, Gucci and Future found it, and took advantage of it.

Listen to the full project below.