We wanted to do a screengrab of him in the supermarket, but it didn’t quite work out…
Alfred Soto: Relaxed and buoyant, this is what I expect a great veteran to sound like, slinging syllables because he can, and taking his cue from the loping sample. The best you can say about Gucci is he doesn’t get in the way and offers crucial support.
Matt Cibula: Candy-coated, freaky, and habit-forming. Rich kids will be singing this at graduation parties all summer long.
Martin Skidmore: A smooth and glossy slowish number, and I have always really liked Big Boi’s flow, the way he emphasises. I’m less convinced by Gucci’s hook, which sounds rather too laid back, and his verse rather recedes into the background, but it’s all likeable.
David Moore: I do miss that Big Boi cadence ushering in a new hip-hop anthem, though as anthems go this one feels a little low-key. It’s nice to hear Gucci Mane feeling more at home in a smoother, lusher production (attempts to forcibly lush Gucci up can be disastrous, *cough*Diplo*cough*) without it feeling like a tacked-on cameo. But I think it suffers from being stuck in the “blog discussion” cell in my brain — I need to hear this thing in the car on the radio to know whether or not it has legs.
Al Shipley: This is a middling and perfectly unremarkable song in the context of both Gucci’s enormous 2009 output and the handful of tracks Big Boi has trickled out from his upcoming album. And yet this somehow became the default choice for most critically acclaimed rap song of the year for reasons I still don’t totally understand. My guess is it’s mainly the synergy of one of ATL rap’s all time greats teaming up with its current hottest talent, but even that is a great concept on paper, and a merely good one in practice.
Michaelangelo Matos: Pay attention to the bit beginning at 2:26. Big Boi says a few lines, and then overdubs himself (and whomever else) to create a response effect to say a few more, and then goes back to it being just him. It’s nothing huge, but it is the kind of trick of record-making you can just toss out there when you’ve been responsible for so many hits: a producer’s trick, a little something that juices it up even more. It’s one reason this is more than merely a great chorus or a hot beat or a perfectly timed guest appearance.
John Seroff: Big Boi is likely my favorite all-purpose MC and Gucci is high up on my list of least enjoyable rappers, but “Shine Blockas” isn’t a song won or lost by the headliners. It’s the inventive dueling musical tangibles that give this a heart: quiz-show countdown vibes, cunning organ arrangement, descending bass riffs and chopped ‘n’ screwed soul-man moans struggle for control of the time signature in a tenuous balance over the drum loops. I doubt the song is ABOUT much of anything but when the production is this enjoyable, it’s easier to cope with lyrics that don’t go anywhere.