The rapper Gucci Mane was released from prison yesterday, after nearly three years served for probation violations so complicated they command an entire bullet-pointed subsection on his Wikipedia page. This probably isn’t the best week to be flippant about the sometimes-thorny relationship between hip hop and crime — so let’s acknowledge shit is complicated and move on to celebrating Gucci’s one indisputably great moment: his featured hook and verse on “Shine Blockas.”
The best track on Big Boi’s great 2010 album Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty, “Shine Blockas” is a four-minute blast of aggressively joyous self-regard — vanity so potent it’s contagious. Over a flawless, relatively obscure Teddy Pendergrass sample, Gucci’s gruff, mush-mouthed flow never sounded better. “Don’t block my shine,” he slurs, so convincingly I occasionally find myself upset at Gucci’s non-specific antagonist: “Why you gotta block his shine, man?!”
Gucci’s subsequent verse is full of silly, objectively stupid lines like “They put Gucci in a cell, then Madea went to jail/I make music, I make movies, I need Tyler Perry sales.” And yet I have never, not once, sounded as cool Gucci does on this song. Swagger is a state of mind. If one of hip hop’s truest purposes is to trumpet the self-worth of historically marginalized people — and it is, but that’s a think piece for another day — “Shine Blockas” is a pinnacle of the form: “I can’t close my safe no more ‘cause I got too much money in it.”
So, in honour of Gucci paying his debt to society, have a listen. Whether it’s your first time or just your first time in a while, you deserve to feel this good.