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Gucci Mane At Billboard Hot 100 Festival, Jones Beach, August 19th, 2017, Reviewed

While it is true rap was born in the Bronx projects where young, poor black kids made their own ideas of fun, it isn’t true that there was a natural gangster, that took Schoolly D in the mid-1980s, with a style that embraced the super-violent gangs and crack slinging, p;oce burning  ethos permeating the inner cities. Ice T and NWA ran with it but it took Biggie to bring the rea, the former bad boy was a real bad boy career criminal who found a way out through rap.

Fast forward twenty years and Gucci Mane and T.I. were inventing trap, a metallic heavy on the cymbals and dark as ashy samples (Drake substituted crime for sex and became a phenomenon). Guc was a bad news guy in and out of jail, but blazing the way for Atlanta. Today, the freshest rapper around is the fresh out of jail  seventeen year old Tay K, and everyone from Kevin Gates to xxxtentacion have rap sheets as long as their raps.

But if all Gucci Mane had was a rap sheet, he got out of jail April 2016, I would certainly not have made the trip to Jones Beach to see him perform an hour long set at Billboards Hot 100 Festival Saturday afternoon. Certainly, nobody else could have gotten me there? Demi Lovato? Big Sean? Zed? I think not. I went to see the man who has released more great rap songs than anyone else, who is (or at least was) in a league with Kendrick, the forefather to Migos, to Lil Yachty and Lil Uzi Vert, to put it simple, if Trap had another name it would be Gucci Mane. From 2009’s Murder Was The Case to 2016’s first album out of prison Everybody Looking, the man has been a giant (I’m not crazy about the follow up, but the upcoming release should be a return to form). Hell, I have a mix tape he RECORDED OVER THE PHONE FROM JAIL. The man is incredible. This year along he has featured on great singles by Selena Gomez, Steve Aoki, Desiigner, and more, last year he worked with Migos and went to # 1 with Rae Sremmurd on “Black Beatle,” he is back with Migos on his new single.

Saturday he performed “Black Beatle” and it fell flat. In one of the worst performances by a major artist I have ever seen, Gucci Mane gave the laziest and most boring set imaginable, rapping along to RAP TRACKS, with only a DJ behind him, he was meant to give an hour,instead Gucci gave the first 20 minutes to his DJ, rapped for 30 minutes and left early. And when I say rap what I mean was shouted along to backing tracks as he wandered aimlessly around the stage. Opening with his Drake collaborations “Both” and “Back on Road,” ending with I’m “I’m Back Bitch,” and leaving “Black Beatle” for the middle, where the prerecorded hook finally energized an audience gagging to celebrate the central frugal force of rap in 2017, and not being allowed to by one atrocious rap after another. How is it possible to follow “Good Drank” with  “Slippery” and still suck? He was worse than Future and Travis Scott combined. I am shocked at this disgraceful performance. He should be thoroughly ashamed of himself.

Grade: D

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