BIGBABYGUCCI’s latest record is the prelude to breakthrough.
“And I know this bitch, and I told this bitch her man be using my type beats” is the synthesis of a new type of bravado, a flex from the no man’s land between the underground and mainstream. The line is from “Typical”, a song which sees North Carolina’s BIGBABYGUCCI slowly build from subtle to explosive, mirroring his climb to the upper ranks of the online music scene over the last four years. And he is definitely at the top; the phenomenal track “Drop Top Lexus” sits at over a million streams on Spotify, and last year’s “Send Help” received excellent press. He’s got videos on Elevator, an interview with Mass Appeal, impressive stats on Soundcloud – all the makings of an artist ready to blow up. But “Teen Spirit”, the album “Typical” opens, is not the overcharged power grab that one might expect.“Teen Spirit” is the prelude to BIGBABYGUCCI’s inevitable breakthrough rather than its genesis.
The shelving of the earlier announced “A Girl Is A Gun” album and release of snippets under the name “Teen Spirit Radio” gives “Teen Spirit” a narrative, one with real word stakes. But when listening, these stakes fall away. Steadfast drums clear the air on “Vogue”, which features GUCCI walking the line between tedious and hypnotic. Luckily, he’s pushed into the latter by Harold Harper’s exotic melody. “Vision” is equally absorbing as trippy effects shield the rapper’s voice between dynamic verses. The music presented is not burdened by the rearranging of the artist’s musical plans, nor is it held to any unrealistic expectation. These songs are catchy, but aren’t aggressively fixated on simple earworm beats or repeating an addictive hook for the TikTok market. Amongst everything, there’s a solid sense of artistic integrity. Amongst four years of patience, the music still comes first.
Across thirteen tracks BIGBABYGUCCI tells similar stories of women, fame, and fashion. Due to his ongoing rise, he strikes a hilarious medium between down to earth and arrogant. On “Jason Vorhees” he sings “I’m not a goat I’m a wildebeest” and “Said he want a verse, it’ll cost him”, evidencing the empowerment and confidence that comes from crafting a career. “I eat ramen, my garments be Japanese” (“Japanese Garments“) represents the dichotomy of relatability and elevation that gives “Teen Spirit” its edge. Another thematic duo comes in the form of love and heartbreak. “Gosha” and “Prada” form the album’s centerpiece, a pair of songs conflating expense and admiration. “No I ain’t proud to beg” turns to “I ain’t trippin on nada”, reflecting once more themes of ascension and success. Both songs are set to gorgeous and bass heavy beats from Fish (joined by Rocco and AG on “Gosha”). Fish handles a majority of the album’s instrumental work, crafting a consistent sonic palette. His beats lend themselves well to frequent but subtle changes in tone, mood and timbre; it’s hard to imagine a better accompaniment for GUCCI’s animated flow.
If any song on “Teen Spirit” does reach for that next, larger, stage, it’s the closer “Hell & Back”. “Suspect”, the penultimate song*, could close out the album nicely, slowing the pace to a resting pulse. “Hell & Back” is an adrenaline shot that features BIGBABYGUCCI at his most elastic. Fish layers vocals in waves, the beat surges and falls. It’s the only truly cinematic moment on the project. Where most of this album is GUCCI showcasing all that he can do now, “Hell & Back” blends his uncompromising attitude with bolder soundscapes. Now, is the right time for this to begin, because there’s surely a lot coming for BIGBABYGUCCI. There’s plenty of room for the sound of “Teen Spirit” to grow along the way.
Listen to “Teen Spirit” here.
– Jamie (@youngjade1216)
*Track arrangement differs between platforms.