Atlanta rapper Gucci Mane has been a regional star since at least 2005, when his underground single “Icy” broke through for national radio play. But this week, which saw the release of Gucci’s second studio album, The State vs. Radric Davis, was supposed to be his superstar tipping point. The movement’s been brewing for a while, through a torrent of mix tapes; a string of excellent, high-profile guest appearances, including Mario’s “Break Up,” Big Boi’s “Shine Blockas,” and the remix to Mariah Carey’s “Obsessed”; a high-profile feud with former buddy Young Jeezy (since patched up); and an even higher-profile jail stint for a probation violation (he should be out halfway through next year). Along the way, he’s flexed his cross-market appeal: Diplo recently jumped on the bandwagon, announcing a Gucci Mane remix project earlier this month. All that fevered anticipation for the State culminated in a glowing piece in this past week's New York Times Sunday Arts section, which quite correctly pointed out that Gucci has “had the swiftest ascent to hip-hop ubiquity since Lil Wayne.” But the Gucci-for-superstar movement has hit a bit of a snag.
The numbers are in for The State’s first week, and while it’s not a flop, it’s not exactly a smash either: A modest 90,000 units sold, good for No. 10 on the Billboard 200. Maybe being imprisoned, and therefore unable to make many promo appearances, hurt? Or maybe Gucci’s ascent is still a work in progress? Most likely, though, everyone was going to be buying Susan Boyle’s album anyway.