If academia is anything like I want it to be, my PhD thesis will be called "Why Gucci Mane is the GOAT" and it will be over 2000 pages long. First I will analyze the cultural myth of "the guy who could be the best if they wanted to be". The "Isai myth", which, I think for most purposes is just a myth, but always carries some element that makes people suggest that in the first place. Stuff like "they aren't trying! Imagine if they tried!" or "It's clear that _____ is more important than being the best!" Then I'd show how a whole host of these apply to Gucci Mane, so that, even if you disbelieve that he could "be the best if he wanted to", you see the potential for him to be such a figure in popular perception, even if such a figure doesn't really exist (because the amount someone has to be the best is etc etc).
After establishing Gucci Mane's particular idiosyncrasies and priorities, I'd suggest that these aren't actually in conflict or subordinate to the "proper" metrics of rap, but are just as valid. And then for fun I'd prove that they're actually the most valid metrics of rap. I think this becomes obvious when you listen to a lot of Gucci Mane.
And now, with our set of principles of what it means to be the GOAT, I'd take an in-depth analysis of Gucci's whole catalog to prove that he is far and away the pinnacle. It'd probably be self-evident, but whatever.
I'd start with this song, 'cause I think this was maybe the first time I become truly aware of Gucci Mane. Listen to the hook. Not only is that simply and objectively one of the finest hooks in hip hop history, it carries a certain effortlessness that sounds to me like he came up with it as he said it. You get the sense of not just "he can rap like this whenever he wants to" but "he never stops rapping like this". It's the same sort of mentality that I get in basically all my favorite rappers but Gucci's is just... the best. Like, look what's going on here. It works on sonic levels, on levels of meaning both sincere and ironic, like... "I can't close my safe no more cause I got too much money in it", like, I could spend 3+ academic pages just breaking down how amazing that line is... The attitude, the self-deprecation and braggadocio, the realism and absurdity, the flatness and flourish, it seems to do too much and yet comes from so little, from mere breathing, it seems like. And you can do this with every line! Every single one!
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