Who could’ve dreamt up a guy like Gucci Mane? The 40-year-old rapper re-emerged transformed from prison in 2016, returning to the public not only with a ripped new bod but seriously refocused, with a new positive lease on life. It was such a drastic shift from the reticent, lean-soaked rapper who punctuated the previous phase of his career that it caused some fans to speculate whether he had been replaced by a clone. He hadn’t — he just stepped up his game.
His transformation is the story of conquering your demons and becoming the best version of yourself — a quintessential Gucci-ism. The new and improved Gucci drops inspiring streetwise raps in the same breath as New York Times bestsellers. Four years on, he shows no signs of slowing down. In classic form, he's back with another guaranteed hit: The Gucci Mane Guide To Greatness. The book, Guwop tells us, is inspired by Kobe Bryant, sprinkling his own Mamba mentality with icy aphorisms. In other words, he’s giving us the recipe to a life led Gucci.
Sharing his own blueprint is at the center of Gucci's next phase, one that finds him benevolently elevating everyone that crosses his path, using his platform as a springboard for those who inspire him. This includes using his industry instincts to both discover and rear the next generation of rap talent. He’s already proven himself to be one of the most astute rap talent scouts, having kickstarted the careers of Young Thug and Waka Flocka Flame. To Gucci’s credit, he’s one of the most underrated A&Rs in the game, and his next effort only goes to prove it.
The compilation project Gucci Mane Presents: So Icy Gang, Vol.1 features a brand new roster of artists from his The New 1017 imprint. Flanked by his handpicked artists Foogiano, Enchanting, K Shiday, Big Scarr, Roboy, and Pooh Shiesty, the Atlanta legend is assessing the scope of his influence, and, spoiler alert, it’s boundless.
With every move, Gucci reminds us that he is one of hip-hop’s most prolific and admired artists — and one of the most unpredictable. In celebration of his powerful legacy and latest ventures, Highsnobiety’s Noah Thomas hooked up with the Gucci Gang for a conversation about inspiration, love, and, perhaps most importantly, banging tracks.
When was the first time you guys heard of Gucci?
ENCHANTING: We were kids.
How crazy does it feel to grow up loving him, and now you're signed to him?
ROBOY: That shit is crazy. K SHIDAY: Yeah, so icy, icy. FOOGIANO: We have to do that [track] over. We got to do it over, Roboy. ROBOY: I have to sing the hook, don't I? FOOGIANO: Yeah. Yeah, we are going to do that. GUCCI: I'm not going to lie, that's a good idea. That'll be hard. ENCHANTING: Y'all better put me on there. FOOGIANO: Everybody. We'll put everybody on there. K SHIDAY: I had "Free Gucci" in my bio for the longest.
What was the first Gucci song you ever heard?
BIG SCARR: The first Gucci song I ever heard? Bro, my mama put me on Gucci. It was “745.” FOOGIANO: Oh, now that's gangsta. ROBOY: I thought he was going to say it. FOOGIANO: Mom was on that bullshit then.
What was it like when you finally got signed to Gucci? What did that feel like?
ROBOY: A dream. That was like, movie type shit. I didn't believe it. I'm not even going to tell y'all what I did, for real. FOOGIANO [describing telling Roboy]: He said, "Who?" I said, "Gucci Man? Wop?" Tripping. On my mama, he sitting there trying to text. Why are you texting? Call Gucci, man. What you doing, man? All that goddamn texting shit. Oh, I know you were just mind-blown then. ROBOY: That shit doesn't happen in my city, no way. First thing I'm thinking about, I'm like, "Damn, the city's fittin to go crazy."
What was the highlight of working on this project together as a team?
FOOGIANO: We're like a dream team. I am trying to stay humble, you know what I'm saying? I'm the first, so I'll be trying not to jump at people. ROBOY: We got the hardest [artists] in the game, period. I'm talking about both ways. They rap like gangstas and sing like angels. K SHIDAY: Tell them to stop playing with us.
What's your favorite Gucci verse?
ENCHANTING: My favorite Gucci verse is on "Shoota." ROBOY: "And if a n---a try me, I'ma bust his ass." FOOGIANO: Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no. I will tell you. My favorite song is "Hair," but my favorite verse is "I'm going off the wall." ROBOY: Y'all ever heard Gucci "Two Times"? Him and Wiz Khalifa? ENCHANTING: Yes, of course! ROBOY: Man, that's the hardest. That's my favorite song. FOOGIANO: Listen, man. You're not a real Wop fan if "I'm a Star" don't make you just go up. That's the one. We played that bitch at teen parties when we were younger. Oh, that's going off. SCARR: That man said, "I'm trying to live, I ain't trying to die. So I'd rather your mama cry than my mama cry."
Gucci, what made you really want to finally say, "All right. I'm about to start an army?"
GUCCI: I've been rapping for 15 years. I started when I was 25. I've been looking at a lot of shit that just inspires me. All the No Limit documentaries, all the Rough Riders shit, and how they keep talking about all these big dynasty record labels. I'm like, "Man, I want to have that in my legacy. I want to have a whole bunch of dope ass artists that really impact the streets." It’s really important to me and for my legacy.
So, I decided to handpick artists that I feel are super dope, that I can grow with and be in their career for the long haul. I can be with them, be patient with them. I wanted to find artists that were up and coming, that hadn’t put out a tape yet. That's really what I wanted. I was going to be in the trenches with them — to grow from one tape to one song. We going to build this shit up. It's fun to me. It really is what I wanted to do, and it's working out just like how I planned it.
You're around so much new talent. Doesn't that make you want to keep rapping?
I love to rap, but the artists I have right now are so dope I feel like I have to just sit back and let them do it. That's how hard they are. That's my goal.
What has been your favorite part about being in the studio with them?
The teamwork. No egos. Nothing is forced. Nothing is fake. There’s no competition, and so much collaboration and encouragement. There’s so much love. That shit is just real. We really enjoy being around each other and making music. We push each other to be better, and we just keep building on that. You don't find that a lot, and now that I have that, I embrace it.
Everyone is so dope, we can make a song in just 10-15 minutes; five to six songs in a day. “You do the hook, you do the chorus, you do the ad-libs.” It's like a team of superstars. It ain't nothing for us to make a dope ass song. There’s so much talent in the room when we're all together. I feel like we're the best label. There are a lot of dope labels, but I feel like we're the dopest.
Everyone [else] is saying, “Oh. okay. It's Covid-19. Labels don't have any money and they're waiting for the label to spend money.” We ain't on that. And we ain't going to never stop. We're dropping a video every day until October 17, and we’re not going to stop after that, either. Foogiano's project is dropping November and Pooh's is dropping December. Then we drop "So Icy Boys" and "So Icy Girls." Then we drop Scar, then Ro, then Kay, then Enchanting. Then we're going to drop a deluxe on Foo and a deluxe on Pooh.
FOO: Right hook, left hook. Right hook, left hook.
Gucci, you also have a new book coming out — what can people expect from this one?
Yes, the Gucci Mane's Guide to Greatness. It's guaranteed to be another best-seller. It's a coffee table book. I got the idea from Kobe [Bryant]'s book [The Mamba Mentality: How I Play]. Kobe just talked about all the things that he did to keep his body up. So I adapted that book, but with all the stuff that's relative to my life. So that's what you're going to get. You're going to get all the recipes on how to keep yourself together.
Any closing words?
RO: Man, this is the best motherfucking label in the motherfucking world. ENCHANTING: Ain't fucking with us! We love it here. We love it here! RO: Say less. Do more. FOO: See, the world know we're fitting to fuck it up. Because everywhere they go, we go, they be fucked up. And like he said, ain't no egos. We support. It ain't none of that hating shit. It ain't none of that stepping on people's toes, bitch, this shit a family. RO: I love you guys. Crossover: We love you too Roboy. Aww, we love y'all. RO: Hey, I feel like we're going to be the only label that lasts forever. FOO: Hey boy. You didn't hear me say I love y'all, boy? SCARR: We said we love you too, n---a. FOO: Nah, I ain't hear that. I ain't hear it come from you. SCARR: Take yo ass on. FOO: Scarr. What's going on? SCARR: I just said I love you too bruh. FOO: All right. All right.
[Inaudible crosstalk]: I feel like our label is going to be together until we die type shit.
The Gucci Mane Guide To Greatness is now available via Amazon. Gucci Mane Presents: So Icy Gang, Vol.1 drops on all streaming platforms today.