Gucci Mane was always a kind of savant, even before he got a tattoo of an ice cream cone on his face. He is a master of that region in club rap where dumb becomes geniusso masterful that you sometimes wonder whether he does it on purpose. His newest mixtape, Diary of a Trap God, only makes that question more difficult. It is inspired and idiotic by turns, distilling the Gucci ethos on one track and collapsing into self-parody the next.
The good news is that trap still enjoys the best production of any hip-hop microgenre going. Producer Zaytoven makes a fine showing on Diary, and his colleagues keep it remarkably consistent for a mix tape, creating a restrained, sinister sound. Sometimes Gucci complements that with his dreamy, quiet rapping, and sometimes he falls into singsong dreck so terrible you wonder if he had a real friend anywhere in the studio.
Consider "Pablo," about the infamous Escobar, in which Gucci repeats "Pablo, Pablo, Pablo" for eight 16 bars at a time. Like the misogynist, unimaginative "Pussy Wet," it proves that he is not embarrassed to phone it in. Gucci is lazy, inconsistent and periodically great. On Diary, he is as frustrating and fun as ever.