Gucci Mane & Young Thug - Young Thugga Mane La Flare
Release Date: April 20, 2014
Record Label: 1017 Brick Squad
In all honesty, this should have been a more eventful release. Here you have two of the most talked about rappers of the last year teaming up for a collaborative mixtape. But the joint project between Gucci Mane and Young Thug, Young Thugga Mane La Flare, doesn't exactly feel like something to celebrate.
That comes in part from some of the reasons why these two were so talked about in 2013 and now in this year. Gucci Mane is very much a veteran at this point, and though his potential crossover days may have passed, you can't go a couple of months without hearing his name brought up somehow. 2013 was a year wrought with controversy with Gucci Mane, from his public falling out with Waka Flocka Flame to his eventual incarceration. As usual, Gucci also released a number of mixtapes that outdoes nearly any rapper not named Lil B. While they might not have contained his best work, there were flashes of brilliance and a glowing light that suggested Gucci might not have lost it quite yet. Still, his controversies far outweighed the music in the conversation.
On the other hand, you've got Young Thug, a rapper who was hard to avoid toward the end of 2013 due to him being at or near the top of every list detailing the best mixtapes of the year. 1017 Thug was a sleeper for some people (including myself), but once you take a dive into the odd, unorthodox world of Young Thug, there's no going back. This success has carried over into 2014 for the young rapper, and songs like “Stoner” and “Danny Glover” have been getting high praise and the remix treatment from some pretty big names. Clearly, Young Thug and Gucci Mane's career paths are on completely opposite ends.
Young Thugga Mane La Flare was recorded before Gucci was incarcerated, so if some of the tape feels like a retread for both artists, it's because most of the material is several months old. That's not to say the entire thing feels like a retread, quite the opposite. It does more to solidify Young Thug's consistency as a weird, eccentric artist that has no fears of taking his voice to places unimaginable for most rappers, and Gucci once again shows that he's not going to stop rapping anytime soon.
The beat selection on this thing is immediately striking, as it is on most 1017 releases. The usual bombastic Atlanta tinged trap production tropes are all over the place, but when they're pulled off with the kind of expertise that they are on songs like “Bricks” and the intro, “Hot Boys,” can you really complain? These are top shelf beats that are a little too abrasive and out there for any commercial releases, but perfect for a mixtape from two street rappers more than ready to bring the energy that these beats demand. Young Thug's performance on “Bricks” should be enough to convert anyone on the fence into a believer, twisting his voice into one of the catchiest hooks he's done yet. Gucci Mane tags in with a slick verse that sounds like vintage Gucci, showing that the two are capable of meshing together on the same track despite their different styles.
As the tape goes on, however, something starts to happen. The differences between Young Thug and Gucci Mane become much more apparent, and their ability to coexist on a track proves to be a bit shaky throughout the duration of the tape. “Don't Look At Me” starts out with a pretty typical Gucci verse, but by the time Young Thug comes in and takes over the track, you begin wishing he would have been at the forefront the whole time. Thug steals the show time and time again, leaving Gucci behind and unable to catch up. To further drive the point home that there's a big gap between where these two artists are at right now, there are a few solo tracks from Young Thug on the tape, some of which are immediate stand outs. “Out My Biz” shows that Young Thug can sport a more traditional flow without losing what makes him interesting, and the charmingly bizarre “OMG” is far and away the weirdest rap song to come out in a while. Moments like these show that Young Thug doesn't need Gucci anymore, and as a result Gucci seems to get left behind in the dust more often than not.
Which is fine, because Young Thug's domination over the tape gives Young Thugga Mane La Flare a personality that separates it from the other countless joint mixtapes Gucci Mane has released with 1017 cohorts over the years. This thing is nice and short compared to your average hip-hop mixtape with only 13 songs to comb through, which is good because if it went on any longer the gap between Young Thug and Gucci would have swallowed the mixtape whole. As it stands, Young Thugga Mane La Flare is a showcase of not only one of 1017's most promising artists, but one of the most promising artists in all of hip-hop. Hopefully when Gucci Mane gets released he comes back reinvigorated and ready to get back on top, because as this tape signifies, he's no longer operating on a level that allows him to keep up with the rising stars in the game.