In general, the internet is garbage. You know it, I know it — I’m not even pretending that this article is not also, in its own way, garbage. Garbage begets garbage. It is just too easy to make a falsely cited news story postulating that the just-outta-jail, 100-pounds-thinner Gucci Mane is a replacement clone – and for the Internet to seize upon it with all the fervor of a duck tracking a piece of bread crust tossed into a pond. Then, somehow, people keep talking about it, for a week or so; it clogs up timelines and website home pages alike.

It is not facts that matter, here. It’s meme potential. The clone theory is a fun idea, based in an actually odd phenomenon: not only his drastic weight loss, but Mane’s admittedly humorous higher voice, precious elocution, altered style of dressing, and the apparent lack of his infamous ice cream face tattoo. Gucci is acting strangely, and starting the clone rumor is an enticing, silly way to comment on that fact.

Gucci, for his own part, has been relishing the trending topic, flashing a shit-eating grin on Instagram, and claimed that he will neither “confirm or deny”:

Gucci Mane has historically lived in the studio, and so it should be no surprise at all to fans that he has already, apparently, made a song called “Gucci Clone,” which he baited conspiracy theorists with on Instagram yesterday. Yes, that’s Young Thug in the background.

#GucciClone

A video posted by Gucci Mane (@laflare1017) on

Any press is good press, and the press doesn’t even have to be real. One of the issues with Gucci — I believe, an obstruction to actually taking his music seriously, is that his perennial eccentric sensibility, from lyrics to social media stunts to appearing in director Harmony Korine’s pseudo-ironic cult hit Spring Breakers, have made him more meme than “serious” artist, in many people’s eyes. Yet he remains one of the most influential rappers of the last decade.

Not only has he made a lot of amazing music in his own right, he’s given many of today’s biggest Atlanta rappers and producers a platform by featuring them on his work, from Mike Will Made It to Future to Young Thug to Migos. Even in the early days, he featured Nicki Minaj on his mixtapes and treated her as a protégé.

This, incidentally, is the theme of one of the handful of new tracks he’s put out since getting out of prison, the creeping “All My Children.” Sure, it’s a weird concept — the idea that Gucci is a father to the ATL rappers he influenced, and everyone else, globally, who has bit his style of trap music. The cover features a garish-drawn cartoon of Muppet Baby approximations of supposed rapper “followers” crawling on his lap and around his chair.

Look, there’s the ice cream tat on his cheek, JUS’ SAYING.

The Gucci on this track doesn’t seem as hard-boiled as normal; his voice starts in almost unrecognizably high, cooing register on the first track. This is definitely not the same man that went into prison, but only (definitely) in a metaphorical sense. You know, prison has been known to change people. It even did that last time he got out from a huge stint in 2010, giving his work a bit of a darker tone than his triumphant 2009 tapes.

It’s at times like this, when “gucci mane clone” brings up too many results to count, that we wonder why we spend our time doing what we’re doing. The Internet, sometimes, becomes a closed intertextual space, with its own obscure rules that relate to nothing else in the world — like a super-figurative math problem. How did a rumor started from an easily-disprovable, made-up Hot 97 interview with Lil Boosie result in Drake — who recently collaborated with Gucci on a song — posting “That ain’t no clone” on his Instagram?

That ain't no clone...Big Guwop home. @mikewillmadeit @zaytovenbeatz

A photo posted by champagnepapi (@champagnepapi) on

It’s a lot of people’s faults, including mine. Maybe contribution to the Gucci clone content machine is a defensive mechanism from thinking about the ramifications of Brexit, or from any number of real, troubling things in my life. It’s very easy to start a fire with a tiny spark.