As Christmas approaches, the holiday music and events start kicking up. You can't just go through December without a Christmas-themed hip-hop album. Gucci Mane may not follow a holiday theme in his new mixtape The Return Of The East Atlanta Santa, but it's certainly a present we all want.
Or so you thought. Gucci Mane is increasingly becoming a mainstream act, and thus has a bit more pressure on him to do something appealing. That's what The Return Of The East Atlanta Santa feels like - not exactly a cop out, but something that doesn't want to take any risks. For what it's worth, the album get's off to a solid start. 'St. Brick Intro' brings the mixtape to a dark beginning, a dramatic piano version of 'Jingle Bells' played in a minor key serving as the backdrop. It kicks into 'I Can't,' where the darker vibes continue. The song is good, but feels a bit unfulfilling, if anything.
This album has an overarching dark tone to it, 'Walk In Water' continuing on the trend from previous tracks. But there are some catchier tracks interspersed within it. Such a track is 'Both,' featuring Drake. This song is really just very well put together, the chiming bell synths pairing with the pulsing instrumental. This song is also situationally important, as it clears up any rumors that there was beef between the artists and Lil Yachty. Later on the record comes 'Bales,' a dramatic track that's fairly simply but really flows well following a dry period.
That dry period really messes up the flow, though. The center of the record is really bland, feeling uninspired. 'Stutter' starts the trend, staying in the average range but without anything special going on (the flute is just plain silly, though). Bryson Tiller providing a unique voice to 'Drove U Crazy' is the only thing that keeps it from falling below average. The Travis Scott feature in 'Last Time' feels entirely wasted, though. Then comes a run of simply unfulfilling tracks, the album ending much the same - 'No Smoke' is just plain stupid, while 'Greatest Show On Earth' is pretty pretentious without much to show for it.
Gucci Mane needs more spirit in The Return Of The East Atlanta Santa. Perhaps what's most disappointing about it is that it abandons its holiday theme! The instrumentals were on a roll. Sadly, even looking past that, the mixtape doesn't offer much more than an average hip-hop experience. Let's hope that the next holiday season sees something more... spirited.
Favorite Tracks: Both, Bales, St. Brick Intro
Least Favorite Tracks: No Smoke, Crash, Greatest Show On Earth, Yet
Rating: 64 / 100