Ambitionz az a Writer: Gucci Mane is a Postmodernist

Ambitionz az a Writer: Gucci Mane is a Postmodernist

A Hotlanta rapper you probably haven’t heard from or respected since middle school dialogues with modern culture under your nose.

Gucci Mane is not remarkable for mastery of classical characteristics of good rap—flow, rhyming, wordplay, subject matter, etc. He rarely deviates from the drugs, money, hoes tough guy narrative of the 2000s; unlike Tupac and Biggie who spoke on the same subjects, Gucci shows little to no self-awareness. He doesn’t even offer the old college try like DJ Quik’s “Jus Lyke Compton.” While he does acknowledge the ruin of East Atlanta, Gucci makes no recommendations, no comment on what he thinks of the situation. His tone and flow can be frighteningly boring at times. Pre-federal penitentiary, pre-sobriety Gucci Mane sounds like a drip of syrup through a mouth of cotton balls. Post-federal penitentiary, post-sobriety Gucci sounds like someone pulled the cotton balls out. “Wasted” is a prime example of this; Gucci’s chorus is a hedonistic drone that conveys absolutely no investment in the moment. Gucci doesn’t attempt much wordplay either. There are no punchlines in “First Day Out Tha Feds” which is confined to a 5th grade vocabulary. Gucci's skill does not lie in the traditional realms of rap.

Instead, in “First Day Out Tha Feds,” Gucci’s talent starts to shine after the line “It’s a lot of people scared of me and I can’t blame them.” Gucci now begins to reflect upon himself through the lens of others’ reactions. “They call me crazy so much, I think I’m starting to believe ‘em / I did some things to some people that was downright evil” is accompanied by a shrug; Gucci feels no remorse. The kicker comes, though, with the line: “My own mama turned her back on me / and that’s my momma!” Gucci is participating in abstraction, a hallmark of modernism. He is not reliving the event; he makes no mention of any emotion attached to it. Instead, he analyzes the occurrence as a symbol—is he really evil and crazy? Gucci is thus distanced from the primary reality of what happened. This idea of distance was repeated in the lines before as Gucci requires the prompting of others to determine his nature rather than his own self-awareness. His incredulousness and puzzlement becomes more untenable by the second—he even admits he has done things that are “downright evil”—but still, he maintains his facade of detached conflict. This situation is absurd, it is exaggerated, it is postmodern.

Gucci Mane’s music fits right into a movement about all sorts of unreality. Guwop is, at times, obvious, using the classic techniques of the genre without subtlety. In “I Think I Love Her,” Gucci recounts his unreciprocated love, but as the song progresses, it becomes clear that the woman Gucci is rapping about is cocaine with “I stashed her in my fender while I stashed her in my tire.” Instead of committing to making a metaphorical song about drugs, though, Gucci makes the human aspect of the “woman” undeniable by giving “Susie” the woman/cocaine a voice through Ester Dean. In the end, rather than a total parallel for cocaine or a total parallel for a woman, the object of Gucci’s affection is a woman/cocaine amalgamation. She throws fits/is super thick/is mean as shit and can be kept in his fender. Gucci has constructed a new reality to allow for the simultaneous illustration of his love for women and cocaine. On “All My Children,” Gucci returns to another trope of postmodernism as he raps “I had to make a track to say I’m proud of you / Stop that track to tell my children that I’m proud of them.” This segment is lightning quick and references the song’s limitations as a song, another common technique of the genre. Despite these examples, though, most of Gucci’s music does not employ such transparent references to postmodernism. Gucci is more than the parlor tricks of old. His take on the movement is complicated by his apparent sincerity. Gucci really did make a track to tell his children that he’s proud of them, and the track really did stop so that Gucci could tell his children that he’s proud of them. His music seesaws between total straight-laced sincerity and complete satire, neither of which perfectly fit. The postmodernism of Gucci Mane is not the sci-fi alternate world of freakishly talented children or time-traveling; it is the tension within the listener to decide to take Gucci at face value or not. Because of his often ridiculous sentiments, the listener’s decision of whether to believe Gucci is a decision of whether Gucci’s proclamations exist within the bounds of human nature and thus whether or not Gucci is representing reality.

Nowhere is this more obvious than in “Iced Out Bart.” Gucci details the miserable indifference he feels towards others through the metaphor of his Bart Simpson necklace. The song is best summarized in one line: “I got an iced out Bart where my heart used to be.” Superficially, the message is straightforward. Gucci is soulless, completely devoured by materialism. He offers more humanity to his jewelry than he does the people that he hurts. He names his necklaces and bracelets and suggests their familial relations to each other. The only actor in Gucci’s narrative that he names is “Nicole,” the listener’s girlfriend; this, he does only to further injure and offend and thus better demonstrate his ruthlessness. Gucci’s delivery throughout the chorus is also suitably monotone, offering no suggestion to the contrary to his statements. The song is not completely devoid of emotion, though; a strange overwrought “yeah” follows every utterance of the mantra “I got an iced out Bart where my heart used to be.” This “yeah” serves to further emphasize his cruelty; it is a happy endorsement of the statement. Most notably, though, it contradicts the theme of the song as Gucci is displaying a sort of emotional reaction. Gucci doesn’t attempt to resolve this. It is now up to the listener to either believe Gucci’s claim of limitless brutality or distrust him. The listener then must decide what reality he or she lives in—is Gucci truly barbaric or is he hamming it up?

This question is the central concern of Gucci’s oeuvre. Few songs go by without such an absurdity. The suggestion of camp is most often embodied in the theatrical “yeaaah,” though in other songs such as “All My Children” where Gucci piles on the superlatives, the absurdity sits closer to the surface. Gucci never openly contradicts his narrative, but by so enthusiastically, ridiculously advocating for it, taking it to absolutes and extremes—“Don’t nobody love you like Guwop love you”—Guwop inevitably leads the listener to question him. The listener must then decide what sort of world they would like to believe in.

Rap has long been obsessed with authenticity. N.W.A. sought to tell the story of Compton as they experienced it, and Biggie rapped about his life story and reflections throughout his albums. Even recently, the fixation has not died down. Uproar over Iggy Azalea was tied to her inflection while rapping. Since she came from Australia and spoke with an Australian accent in interviews, the “Dirty South” style felt stilted and disingenuous coming from her. Gucci directly engages with that assumption by blending his narratives and offering conflicting evidence of it. Wizop thus falls in line with literary giants like Vladimir Nabokov and Kurt Vonnegut. Rather than the classic unreliable narrator like Nabokov’s Humbert Humbert, Gucci Mane doesn’t even allow the listener the certainty of knowing that he might

be lying. Instead, Gucci localizes the conflict completely to the audience; listening to his music ultimately becomes self-reflection.

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Dear Shondaland, You Made A Mistake Because April Kepner Deserves Better

"April Kepner... you're not average"

I'll admit from the first time we were introduced to April in Season 6, I didn't like her so much. I mean we hated the "Mercy Westers" in the first place, so how could we see the potential in the annoying, know-it-all resident that was trying to compete with our beloved Lexie Grey.

But then, we saw her come face-to-face with a killer and thought maybe she had potential.

We then saw her surprise everyone when she proved to be the next trauma surgeon in the making and we were intrigued.

Notice how none of these stories had anything to do with Jackson Avery. Not that we didn't love her with Jackson, but for whatever reason you've chosen to end their very popular relationship. Suddenly, you think that April is not worth further exploration but you've forgotten one simple thing. We fell in love with her before "Japril" was ever in the picture.

We love her because her story was unlike the others and she had one of the best character developments on the show. She wasn't damaged like Meredith Grey or Alex Karev who have been on their journey to become all whole and healed, but she still had to fight hard to be taken seriously. Her story has so much potential for future development, but you've decided to throw it all away for "creative reasons."

I'm sorry, but there's nothing creative about doing the exact same thing you've done to all the other characters who have left the show. We've endured the loss of many beloved characters when you chose to write off George, Henry, Mark, and Lexie. We even took it when you did the unthinkable and wrote McDreamy out of the show - killing off one half of the leading couple. (WHO DOES THAT???)

But April Kepner? Are you kidding me?

She may no longer be with Jackson, but she was so much more than half of Japril. While most of us hate that Jackson and April are over, we probably could have dealt with it if April was still on the show. Now they're done and you think there aren't any more stories to tell about her character. Why? Because she'll just get in the way of Jackson and Maggie?

How could you not see that she was way more than Jackson's love interest?

She's so much more than you imagined her to be. April is the headstrong, talented trauma surgeon no one saw coming. The farmer's daughter started off an ugly duckling who became a soldier because she needed to be one and turned into one big beautiful swan who constantly has to fight for her coworkers and family to see her as such.

She's proven to be a soldier and swan on many occasions. Just take giving birth to her daughter in a storm on a kitchen table during an emergency c-section without any numbing or pain medication as an example. If she wasn't a soldier or a swan before, how could she not be after that?

Yet, you - the ones who created her - still see her as the ugly duckling of a character because she always had to take the backseat to everyone else's story and was never allowed to really be seen.

But we see her.

She's the youngest of her sisters who still think of her as the embarrassing little Ducky no matter how much she's grown.

This swan of a resident got fired for one mistake but came back fighting to prove she belongs. Not only did April Kepner belong there, but it was her talent, her kindness, her strength that made her Chief Resident. This simply wasn't enough for Dr. Bailey or her other residents so she fought harder.

She endured the pressure but always ended up being a joke to the others. When she was fired yet again, your girl came back a little shaken. She doubted herself, but how could she not when everyone was against her.

Despite everyone telling her she couldn't, she did rise and no one saw her coming because she remained in the background. She went off to Jordan broken and came back a pretty risky trauma surgeon.

We've watched for years as she was handed promising stories that we never got to see fully develop because she was in the background. We never got to see her rise. We get the beginning and the end, but hardly ever the middle.

I thought we were finally going to have an amazing story arc in season 11 when she loses Samuel, but what did we really get? Two or three episodes of her coming to terms with the loss of her baby and then April's disappearance from the show while she's grieving off screen so that Dr. Amelia Shepherd can shine her first season on the show. Where is April's life-changing surgeries? What does April get? She's background music.

Now what?

It's season 14 and we finally get the story we've been waiting 9 years for! We get Dark April and her crisis of faith. A story arc all Christians can appreciate. Here's the chance for real character development in the foreground, but wait...

Before her story is even wrapped up, you announce that this season will be her last. So we're forced to realize that the only reason we're getting this story now is that you're writing her off.

No matter how you end it, it's not going to do her story justice. If you kill her off to end her crisis of faith story, you're not reaching the many Christians who watch the show. If you have her leaving Seattle and taking Harriet with her, you didn't know April. If you have her leaving Seattle and abandoning Harriet, you really didn't know April. So anyway you choose to end her story, you lost out on one great character.

You messed up.

Both April Kepner and Sarah Drew deserved better.

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Poetry On Odyssey: Floating

You caught me in the clouds.

Hey y'all. Today I figured I would grace you with one of my poems instead of an interesting listicle or a relevant article giving life advice. 'Cause sometimes you just feel like sharing some form of fiction, or you have a super busy week and you forgot that your deadline was tomorrow, so you choose one of your poems from your notebook as your weekly article. Either way, I hope y'all enjoy!

"will you catch me if i fall?"

"of course"

so i stepped off my balcony

into the sky

and you caught me in the clouds

and there we floated

but then your arms got tired

and your mind started to wander

and you forgot about me

so you dropped me

and i fell to earth

but although i shouted

no one was there to catch me

a second time

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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