Today hip hop artists not only boast about their riches, but also insert instances of self-critique and awareness of the absurdity of this lavish lifestyle and explicit self-aggrandizing. By calling himself Gucci Mane LaFlare (see image below), he takes possession of the word “man” and alters it to still denote himself as a man, but also to create his own language and dialect and set himself apart from other “men.” His choice of using the elite brand name “Gucci” conveys a high class status. He adds LaFlare to add “umph,” spectacle, and reference French, a language considered to be romantic and civilized. This in conjunction with the “incorrect” spelling of “man” (Mane) could be said to set a contradiction between the aristocratic, exotic, and the street lifestyle. Gucci, his short name, conveys a high financial and social status.
Gucci Mane’s company is called So Icey Entertainment. He has incorporated the onomatopoeia word “Burr” (an alteration of BRRR) to describe the sound one utters when one gets the chills when confronted with Gucci Mane’s jewelry which looks and often feels cold, like ice. “Burrr” is also meant to freeze the viewer in his tracks from amazement at the sight of such riches and images. Furthermore, Gucci has recently branded himself with a tattoo of an ice cream cone on his cheek to reference the chill. While it’s possible to associate the shine that bling produces with a heat generating entity like the sun or star, he usually opts to interpret the shine as icy cold. Gucci does not conceal his fixation on money and wealth and talks about it in his songs as well as interviews saying that he has a money chasing habit. He personifies the idea of money. By embodying a belief in the power of money, in the idea that “money is everything” and “it’s all about the money” he attempts to show us that in our capitalistic society, money matters more than anything, and possibly hints at the fact that we see and value each other in terms of financial status and the potential in financial gain. His goal seems to be so that when people look at him, they see “money” before they see Radric Devonte Davis.
This idea is supported in his songs such as “Iced Out Bart.” This song also exemplifies the idea of compensatory consumption since Gucci buys a necklace of a cartoon character to fulfill the desire for love or affection in this song. In “Iced Out Bart” Gucci says, “I got an iced out Bart where my heart used to be,” and follows by reciting several times, “A iced out Bart where my heart used to be.” This is followed by “I scratch off on a bitch, it’s nothing to me.” In a later verse Gucci begins by saying, “I got an iced out Bart where my heart at,” and goes on to have a self-aggrandizing conversation with himself about his jewelry, only once asking his producer what his ring is called, and then alludes to a problem with his ex-girlfriend, and telling us she is mad because he “hit” (can mean to have sex or literally hit) her friend, warns us to watch out because “your girlfriend Nicole next” and explains it by reminding us that he has “an iced out Bart where his heart at,” so his actions may be brutal and unsympathetic.
Interestingly, according to Wikipedia “Bart Simpson’s character traits of rebelliousness and disrespect for authority have been compared to that of America’s founding fathers, and he has been described as an updated version of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, rolled into one. In his book Planet Simpson, Chris Turner describes Bart as a nihilist, a philosophical position that argues that existence is without objective meaning, purpose, or intrinsic value” (Bart Simpson).
What Gucci is talking about in this and other songs is his total understanding of what purpose bling serves in our society, his awareness of extreme materialism, and strive to gain materialistic things which serve no intrinsic purpose outside of the role they play in society, his narcissism, how lonely he is inside, and that this has partly been brought about through his hard work ethic and thus little free time to develop his other sides. He mostly has a conversation with himself in this song only twice uttering something to his producer. This monologue takes place within his own head as nobody responds to his questions or thoughts giving us a sense of a detached insular world; the recording studio closed off from the world. His recitation of “I got an Iced out Bart,” serves to comfort and to reassure as well as frighten him about his loneliness and coldness. As if, well, I still got this expensive little character I wear around my neck, and that’s for sure. But, but I have no heart because bling took its place. He is telling us as well as himself how this bling is useless, but what is one to do in a world where it is valued? He makes us aware that the world’s relationship to materialistic symbols of status is necessary but has no explainable meaning. We cannot undo our human nature and agree to throw out our bling, because we need it. But already knowing our intentions, purpose, and process of achievement, we are merely repeating something; we are doing it because it is the thing to do, and because we have no other choice but to do this thing. But this awareness is fruitless and like Bart, nihilistic.