‘gucci mane’ : a story of rap and rebirth.
Gucci Mane has a rich resume. As one of the founders of music, Mane started his first underground release in 2001: Str8 Drop Records presented Gucci Mane La Flare, which has been a rap style. Since then, he has racked up a lot of music achievements: dozens of remixes, singles, collaborations and eight studio albums.
But before that, he was Radric Davis, who grew up in Atlanta, and watched his father on the street, making people cry for money.
“You know, he has all sorts of games and tricks, like three CARDS, shaking peas and pigeons dropping,” Gucci Mane told NPR’s Ailsa Chang. “All of these are little tricks he learned – the trading skills he learned on the street.”
Gucci knows them, too. Through most of the climbing, he used these skills in dealing with drugs, in part for his music career. He attacked these exploits in his music and is slowly being called a true rapper.
Now, he has published a book that began writing for gun management in a maximum-security prison between 2014 and 2016. It was also a turning point, when he promised himself that he would change his life. In his words, “start doing better.”
The book is called “the autobiography of the gucci mane”, a book about his tumultuous upbringing and how he shaped his image as a rapper and the transformation that led him to this day. You can hear his conversations with Ailsa Chang in the audio player and read the edited transcript.
Ailsa Chang: in your book, you call your father a liar. He’s a liar. What have you learned from him?
Gucci Mane: he’s always a little bit like, always points, or tries to be as sharp as possible — or, when you’re in trouble, you can read. I just looked at his nature and I looked at his behavior. He didn’t really teach it to me, but I got used to it because I saw it.
You imitate it.
What had happened.
So when you start trading drugs at the age of 13 and 14, it sounds like you’re addicted to money. Why is that?
I think I’m crazy about money, of course, because I see a lot of people who don’t have money. I see so many people in a shotgun house, or they don’t have real shoes on their feet. I’m hungry – I know how poor people are; I know how it feels to turn the lights off or to boil water. That will never leave me. I see it all about the dollar. I saw how it destroyed the whole family. So in my opinion, always, try to make yourself not a burden to no one. Try to be financially independent at least because you don’t get it, so you’re not a burden to your family.
When you’re young, you break into houses, rob, and expand your drug trade in Georgia. Do you think you’re right, because at least you’re earning a living, not relying on someone else to support you?
It doesn’t make sense. I think it’s a bit like what I know – even thinking about the person I’m injured or how adventurous I am – the opportunity I’m taking. It’s kind of like, I just want to get to the point where I’m comfortable, I’m straightforward, I’m happy. At that time – in hindsight, now – this is what I think is the way to get there. I don’t want to do this for the rest of my life. But at the same time, I knew I needed the money to do what I had to do.
When you start your rap career, you’ll brag about the holes in your music — in some ways, this will only strengthen your reputation as a drug dealer in the street. So I’m just curious, are you living for music, or music is a way to improve the image of the drug at the time?
To be honest, once I get my first fee like 20,21, music is like: that’s what I’m going to do. I don’t want to sell drugs anymore.
Do you think you can get rid of it?
B: yes. But at that time, it was like, “I want to be a professional rapper,” you know what I’m saying? I want to enter the music industry. But at the same time, I needed money to pay for the studio. I still need the money to keep myself there.
You are called the trap god. Can you explain: what is a trap music? When I hear a rap song, how do I know when I hear it: “oh, it’s a trap.”
By definition, a trap is a noise, a place, or just a discipline. When I stepped forward, the trap collapsed. The trap means you’re in a drug infestation, neighborhood, house. Music is about that way of life, anything related to this way of life. But now, this is broad; It’s kind of like hitting the beat, just talking about the drug culture.
I just want to recall, because when you are in more than twenty years of age, you are thinking about this moment in your life, and your drug trade, partly for the sake of your music career – what do you think that your life is at stake? It doesn’t last forever, right?
100% of all. If I move on, I think selling drugs will eventually have dire consequences.
You have this immediate fear.
It’s just a fact. I’ve seen how bad it can be. I see serious cases of people who have serious time in their youth. I saw someone robbed. I have friends, I’ve been killed, so I already know that once I have the first charge, I have to do something. I made a conscious decision, as if I were going to be a rapper. I will take it seriously. No matter what happens, I will do it.
So when you release these albums, you’re living the life of this trap, and part of this lifestyle is what’s called a lean drink, and you’ve been hooked for so many years. What is lean?
Lean is cough syrup. Although I guess it’s called lean meat, because you’re taking cough syrup, you’re going to mix it with soda.
– but not any cough syrup, we’re not talking about Robitussin. This is codeine.
Codeine and promethazine. Counter syrup, absolute and prescription. For years I’ve been obsessed with it and derailed my career. When I made a 100% call, I was making a recreational drug.
You spend most of your young adult life in county jail. And in 2014, you were convicted of gun control, and you went to federal prison for the first time. You decided, “that’s it. This is going to be a turning point for me.” I’m just wondering: why at that time? Because so far, all of your enforcement questions are: this is part of your image. It’s part of your music image; This is part of the image that your fans have in some way related to it. But the bar behind you suddenly changed in 2014?
Well, I was arrested in 2013, but I wasn’t sent to prison until 2014. So, I actually decided to change my life and time when I was first arrested in 2013.
Why is that?
Because I’m facing a lot of time. So that’s what makes me decide that I need to change my life. Whatever the outcome, or the sentence, I will start to do better.
Why did you decide to write a book about your life in prison?
I just have time to sit and reflect. I’m reading a book. I read a biography of Johnny Carson, I read mike tyson’s biography, and I read two biographies about jimi hendrix. Then when I read the two biographies of jimi hendrix, I was like: let me tell my story. And it just came up with the idea, and I just started writing, and when I sat down to write this book, I wrote 30,40 pages for the first time.
What is the story you want to write about yourself? Is your book about redemption? Or the story of the man who glorified you before the federal prison? Because honestly, you don’t seem to regret a lot of what you’re doing.
I think it’s just a fascinating story. This is not a regrettable biography. It’s just a fact. This is the story of the loser, because I’ve been jumping all my life. I made a lot of mistakes. I think I’m a resilient person. I shake it off, move on, I just want people to know. I hope that when people read my book, this is what they get the results, for example: “ok, gucci has experienced a lot, he is doing something may be a lot of people like to do – but at the same time, he took it for granted, at that time made a mistake, but he bounce back from it, and he is even better. “Let them know,” if he can do this, it will never be too late for me, because what he did.”