Ever since her high-profile resurgence with 2015’s Unpretty Rapstar, Jessi has struggled to convert her immense charisma and variety show talent into a broadly successful music career. Though many pigeonhole her as a rapper, Jessi’s heart seems to lie in her more vocal-driven material. Over the past year, she’s released a few solid (if not particularly memorable) ballads, but with Gucci she’s back to the kind of swag-filled hip-hop that has defined her late-career comeback.
Gucci won’t be for everyone, and it’s not for me. The problem with these kind of “look at me, aren’t I the best?” tracks is that they so often amount to the same cliches delivered within a song that is less about craft than sheer bombast. Jessi has an advantage in that she can both rap and sing very well, so thankfully Gucci‘s more cringe-worthy moments are broken up with a handful of catchy melodic flourishes. There are flashes of brilliance here, like the gorgeously layered bridge, but they’re undercut by a continued sense of juvenile braggadocio. I’m probably just too old for this, but isn’t Jessi as well?
Gucci‘s instrumental is nothing special, offering a brassy bounce that stays relatively flat throughout the entire three minute running time. Comparing this to a song like Yezi’s inventive and ever-evolving Anck Su Namun reveals just how threadbare Gucci‘s dated production truly is. Nothing about the instrumental (or Jessi’s performance) is necessarily bad or even unenjoyable. It just does nothing to contribute to the narrative of her music. If anything, it feels like a step back.