Close to the end of The Return of Mr. Zone 6, Gucci Mane brags that 2011’s going to be his year. The song’s hook, which goes “It’s my year,” is actually sung by Mane. Copious amounts of Auto-tune are added to his voice and his performance is accompanied by swirling moans that I can only imagine someone at some point thought were harmonies. The song’s shamelessly trite execution coupled with such boasting made me laugh out loud and is, by far, the most entertaining part of The Return. Really Gucci? This is your year? Seems like this guy has been on the verge of some semblance of fame for a while. “Lemonade” was pretty popular, “Shine Blockas” is a fantastic song and I heard “Gucci Time” playing in a department store once, but the works that were supposed to consolidate his prominence, The State vs. Radric Davis and Georgia’s Most Wanted, have received modest reviews and Gucci’s 2010 prison sentence kept him from properly advertising them aside from the release of a couple mixtapes. Now that he’s back, the guy’s received more press for his new ice cream cone face tattoo (featured prominently on the cover of The Return) than anything he’s done in the past. And if the ambling quality of The Return at this point in his career is any indication, it’s that Mane’s talent is slipping with his popularity, and his attempts to get back to late 2009 are becoming noticeably desperate.
Let me be clear: I don’t listen to Gucci Mane for his rhymes. For the most part, I don’t even listen to his songs for their production, although DJ Drama’s work on Ferrari Music was a pleasant surprise. No, I listen to Gucci Mane because, for forty minutes or so, I can act like a total moron. Mane’s lazy cadence over hilariously cheap beats sounds like knowingly mindless rap-by-numbers, going out of its way to sound as ignorant as possible. Gucci Mane is music for fat men in Hawaiian shirts to jiggle/dance to, like if Drumma Boy made a career out of making hundreds of “Crank That” remixes.
The Return of Mr. Zone 6 takes the “fun” out of “dumb fun.” Gucci stubbornly remains the same in almost every aspect, and, as a result, it is clear that a fellow Brick Squad member is overshadowing his penchant for the boorish and rude. Wacka Flocka Flame sounds positively retarded singing the chorus to “This Is What I Do” and his guest verses are delectably awful. With just a debut album under his belt, Wacka has already eclipsed Mane’s popularity, and his performances on The Return show that he is beating his mentor at his own game.
The album’s songs, in general, circumvent stupid-clever hybrids and go straight for the lazy. The chorus for “Mouth Full of Golds” is the repetition of “Rich-ass nigga with a mouth full of gold” an innumerable amount of times and “Shout Out To My Set” is just the same. “Pretty Bitches” and “My Year” attempt to “branch out” by incorporating Auto-tune, but they cross the line from innocuously brainless to unlistenable. And Mane’s attempt at hollow schmoozing in “Better Baby” is particularly disingenuous immediately following “I Don’t Love Her,” a boring ode to loveless sex.
I don’t think that The Return of Mr. Zone 6 is just an outlier in a rapper’s catalogue that has been admittedly consistent up to this point. I honestly believe that the release of The Return is a sign of the decline of Gucci. The guy had his chance and, through his legal troubles and ridiculous antics supported with few quality products to justify them, he appears to have gone too far off the edge to ever get back to the Lil’ Wayne-sized popularity bubble the man was on more than a year ago. I only see the release of more albums like The Return in Gucci’s future, and, if fans of his know what’s good for them, they should just give up the idea of the man ever releasing any sort of magnum opus and go out and buy a Hawaiian t-shirt.