Before Future Hendrix ruled the earth, he and Gucci Mane donned matching white suits on the cover of their 2011 collaborative mixtape Free Bricks. That year, Future’s lauded miserable street rap was fiercely transitional. In the early part of 2011, Freebandz was created, and within seven or eight months, it evolved into the major label affiliate Freebandz Ent. Those intermediate months looked like a scale model of Future’s 2015. That year alone had Beast Mode, 56 Nights, DS2, and What a Time To Be Alive with Drake. Meanwhile, 2011 had Dirty Sprite, True Story, Streetz Calling, and Free Bricks with Gucci Mane (like every prominent Atlanta rapper from 2011-2013). Four releases in both years, including one with a rapper at the top of his game.
For Gucci, Free Bricks represented a passing of the torch. It came a few months after The Return of Mr. Zone 6 gave him his fourth top 20 record, and with his impending indictment not two years later, he could see the Writing On The Wall. Gucci wasn’t giving Future the keys to the city, but a 1017 Bricksquad cosign at that time was possibly a higher honor. Between The State vs Radric Davis in 2009, Flockaveli in 2010, and the release of Ferrari Boyz just 11 days (11 DAYS) after Free Bricks, Gucci and Waka were the only rappers not signed to Young Money making notable waves. So Future, arguably alongside a “Lost It” feature from 2 Chainz (who was in between a name change and major international success), rode it out.
For Future, Free Bricks was the height in an intermediate of Dirty Sprite and his first widespread radio success “Turn On The Lights” nine months later. Those who stepped in because of the Gucci cosign were introduced to a reserved level of Future’s auto-tune snarl, as “Free Brickz” the song starts up. And as Free Bricks the album picks up, Future opens up, the snarl getting more confident and the two shadowboxing their bold personas the rest of the tape. By July 2011, the Astronaut Kid (catch the tag in “Lamborghini”) wasn’t quite Future Hendrix yet, but everything was looking forward.
Free Bricks was the last time Gucci outshined the up-and-coming. He’s the Bowie of rap, and we all want him to live to or past 69. The persona that Gucci had adopted during his prison stint was painful to his fan base and his personal health, but from what is being leaked, the trap millionaire is switching his life around. During this time, Gucci had given us Trap House III, the World War 3D trilogy, Trap God 3, the Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner trilogy, Big Gucci Sosa, and Trapology. Sure we were given twice as many as those, but simply put, we need Gucci. Listen to any Makonnen song or check out any Metro Boomin interview; they and everyone post-Flockaveli have a reverence to Gucci. Whether it be his inclusion (Metro talked about his time as a late teen at Gucci’s studio) or inspiration (iLoveMakonnen’s “Big Gucci). Gucci Mane is synonymous with the drive of any young’n in Atlanta. Think about the current ATL mainstays still shelling out music: Migos, Young Thug, now Awful Records affiliates — they all call back to Gucci. Hell, the first interview Father & crew gave to The FADER pointed out the gas station Gucci made his first million at.
Future may not have to give a rap god stock option to the Zuckerberg of the dirty south, but he might as well write the biography of post-Waka trap and ask Gucci for the pro- and epi-logue, because everything outside 808s & Heartbreak is a Gucci-guided projectile. By the time Free Bricks turns five, it will be (and already is) an incredible feat of Future Hendrix’s evolution. In under five years, an underdeveloped Atlanta rapper goes from playing a small role in a collaborative mixtape with the hood’s god to bringing his own producer into a collaborative tape with the biggest star in modern music and stirring up a conversation on whether or not you’ve surpassed the big guy.
I wish Lil Boosie had the same amount of influence when he was imprisoned, but if Boosie Badazz’s reincarnation is predictive of Gucci’s, we’re set for a Gucci Dad. And if this world needs anything, it’s a Gucci Dad.