Album: The State vs. Radric Davis
Label: 1017 Brick Squad, Aslyum, Warner Bros.
"Lemonade," first leaked to the Internet on November 14, 2009, was Gucci's recorded peak. It was his highest-charting single and the third track released from The State vs. Radric Davis.
His entire career's been about playing with musical tensions: hard-edged street vibes against pop appeal, songcraft against blatant disregard for convention, dense lyrics against his congested, "stoopid" flow. "Naw I ain't lyrical," he'd claim one moment, before blasting listeners with a dazzling display of imagery and jokes. The respectability he'd actively deny against the success he clearly sought. The threatening and the ridiculous, the dangerous and humorous, the brilliant and the bizarre.
"Lemonade" is the moment all of the conflicting impulses that make Gucci's catalog such a varied, evolving, glorious mess achieve a perfect balance. Anchored by Bangladesh's hooky pianos, a thumping bassline and an interpolation of Flo and Eddie's "Keep it Warm," re-sung by a children's chorus, "Lemonade" wasn't just stacked with an undeniable pop sensibility. It also contained the dense lyricism of his deepest mixtape cuts ("My phantom sitting on sixes, no twenties in my denim/Your Cutlass' motor knocking, because it is a lemon"), his morbid sense of humor ("AK hit your dog, and you can't bring Old Yeller back") and, of course, the pure flamboyance that sealed his legacy as one of hip-hop's most memorable, unique artists.