"An Ode: Gucci Mane’s 'Lemonade'" by Nina Posner
“The pinnacle of Gucci Mane’s work… the ultimate rap-pop crossover that poised him for a mainstream breakthrough…”
—Five anonymous contributors, http://genius.com/Gucci-mane-lemonade-lyrics
Full disclaimer: I was not an immediate fan of “Lemonade” when it first came out. No, like any freshman in high school, I was busy finding myself musically, so my morning bus rides were devoted to 80s hair metal, shitty pop punk, and Breathe Electric. In fact, I hadn’t really thought of “Lemonade” much until a few weeks ago, when a mashup of Gucci’s song and Sophie’s (PC Music) track of the same name came up on my Soundcloud feed. I had no choice but to listen to it for two hours straight, which prompted comprehensive, urgent reflection.
Yes, both songs are impeccable masterpieces that get me hype beyond belief, but why? In particular, why does the Gucci track, while not as sonically experimental or abrasively catchy as Sophie’s, make me feel so incredibly good? (While writing this piece today, I’ve listened to “Lemonade” about fifty times, and I feel FANTASTIC). I was determined to seek out the answers to these burning questions, so here follows my case that “Lemonade” is one of the best songs to have graced the charts since its release.
The track opens with those iconic piano chords, bouncy and assertive, and later loops in a steady bass and handclaps. As backing beats go, it’s fairly standard. However, when the beat is spare, it’s often the rapper who ultimately enhances the song. Three seconds in, Gucci is already suggesting that he’s about to drop some knowledge on the listener. He briefly hops on the mic to drawl reassuringly, “…s’ Gucci… what’s up baby.” From the start, the listener is addressed like an old friend, meant to feel secure in the presence of the prolific 1017 Records founder. When the first verse starts, the beat amps up a bit, and you really can’t help but bob your head. A lot.
As the song goes on, such trademark lyrics as “I’m truly stupid paid, that’s just how I feel today” and “lemonade and shade with my feet up” evoke an aura of effortless chill. As Gucci names all of his yellow possessions (canary diamonds and Corvettes, etc), it becomes clear that, amidst the carefree vibe, this song is actually an indisputable account of triumph. Gucci is not attempting to impart any serious philosophies onto anyone; rather, “Lemonade” is a celebratory affirmation of the good life. It appears that Gucci is very content, and the credit seems to be due to all of the lemon-reminiscent entities in his life.
Perhaps the most cheerful part of “Lemonade” is Gucci’s signature pronunciation of the word “lemon.” While most of us tend to (boringly) say “leh-min,” Gucci luxuriously emphasizes that short “o” sound. I don’t think I can truly describe how this makes me feel, but it… kind of instills a feeling of pure joy within me. Even better, Gucci himself is aware of the power of his pronunciation, as the end of every measure is punctuated with an exclamation of the word. The constant repetition of “lemon” brings to mind the versatile meanings of the fruit, both in real life and the song.
One such invocation of the lemon is to compliment a woman by comparing her to one. “I like them Georgia peaches but you look more like a lemon,” Gucci croons. After consulting the fan-annotated lyrics website Genius for the purposes of this article, “lemon” is not exactly the high praise I initially thought it to be. But that doesn’t matter. What is important here is that Gucci Mane is employing the metaphor of fruit to describe women, and it kind of works. To be honest, I would be flattered if Gucci Mane said I looked more like a lemon, solely because of the sheer number of positive associations it has in the song.
That brings me to the next point: historically, yellow is a bright and happy color. Often, though, it’s too garish for day-to-day enjoyment, and sometimes mustard hues can be particularly unpleasant on the eyes. But after listening to “Lemonade,” I can guarantee that you will like the color yellow a lot more. Expensive sports cars, shoes, weed, lemonade with codeine – well, all those things are yellow, and all those things are GREAT. (That’s a lie, I’ve never had codeine lemonade, but Gucci makes an extremely compelling case). Once you’ve heard the song, yellow seems warmer, friendlier, more approachable.
Unquestionably, “Lemonade” goes in throughout. Sometimes you forget that that it isn’t a freestyle; it does have a chorus, and an insidiously catchy one at that. For four minutes and six seconds, the listener is able to live in the world that Gucci has created for himself, but also for us too. So the next time you’re at a party, and you suddenly hear the sweet sentiments of “Lemonade” wafting from the speakers, turn up. As Gucci intended it.