March 15, 2017

Evan Nabavian does unmentionable things in his Gucci flip flops.

A coworker and I fawned over a pair of $1,200 studded Gucci wingtips that we would never own when another coworker looked over my shoulder at the Nordstrom website and said, with more curiosity than scorn, “Who are you trying to impress, Evan?”

Mike Will assembled a plurality of popular rappers who matter right now for “Gucci On My.” The video is high society meets face tattoos. 21 Savage totters and gesticulates with disinterest like he’s not sure what to do on camera, eyes downcast behind sunglasses, his voice croaking matter-of-fact menace. The women keep a comfortable distance. YG is effervescent by comparison. The camera swings to keep his bop in the frame; he repeats his favorite lines four times and cedes some bars to an uncredited Kamaiyah so an objective party can attest that YG’s doing OK, YG’s got a maid, YG getting paid, YG’s skin clear, YG got the raise, et cetera. Takeoff mugs like you owe him money. Offset raps so good you don’t notice the bunny pattern on his sweater. Quavo adlibs “Jew.” (Jew!)

“Gucci On My” is austere in spite of the Beyonce royalties and the Emirati opulence. Mike Will’s clout lets him host the biggest rappers on the sparsest beats. He uses just enough sounds to give a canvas and little else to rap’s most colorful personalities and then he gets out of the way. He’s not chasing Grammys right now, just creating ideal conditions for casual greatness.

Mortal that I am, I don’t presume to know the minds of rap’s young vanguards, but I don’t think they’re trying to impress anyone with a preponderance of Gucci logos. Mike Will doesn’t seem wanting for approval when he flashes his pinky ring. One day, when I glide through at work with studs gleaming on my shoes, maybe wearing a bomber jacket with a panther embroidered on it, it won’t be because I care what the drones think. Quite the opposite, in fact.