Last night, in what some would think to be an unlikely pairing, New Yorker staff writer of over 20 years Malcolm Gladwell sat down at the YouTube Space in Manhattan with Atlanta-based rapper Gucci Mane for a talk.
“You’re sort of the godfather of trap” Gladwell said at one point during the questions—which spanned from his productivity in prison (he made over 30 mixtapes) and why his fans stick with him.
“I just refused to come out and not be relevant,” Gucci said of why he front-loaded his release from prison with music. So each day inside was spent either reading books from the likes of Gladwell, Joel Osteen and Robert Greene, working out, or writing his own book, The Autobiography of Gucci Mane which comes out on September 19.
“I think it’s deeper than music with my fans,” Gucci commented as to why people have stuck with him through the three-year bid. “I’m sort of like an open book, people have seen me through my ups and downs, they’ve seen me balling and when I fall off.”
Read on to find out what Gucci Mane said about the difference between gangsta rap and trap rap, on what he listens to while working out and who the most talented young rapper is right now.
On success and popularity of trap music:
I don’t know how I even got the moniker [of the "godfather of trap"]. I am just a fan of music. I grew up listening to gangsta rap. To me, trap rap is just like gangster rap but to me the difference is most of the guys who are trap rap ain't gangstas. That kind of made people imitate [gangsta rap]. It’s like this: I’m a big fan of trap music, I understand the name but I grew up on gangsta music. But I got a son, I would love for him to make trap music but I don’t want him to live the gangsta life. So I’m not knockin’ people who do it, but it’s like, I would see [my son] imitating me and making a beat like mine, or using the words I use, but he doesn’t have to go out there and do the things that I did just to make the music. So I’m all for it but what drew me into [music] was that it was real.
If you could take 5 songs on a desert island, what would they be?
Many Men (Wish Death) - 50 Cent Pocket Full of Stones - UGK Lay it Down - 8Ball and MJG Cocaine (America Has a Problem) - Kilo Ali First Day Out Tha Feds - Gucci Mane
At 14, what would your list of 5 songs to take be?
I’m Bad - LL Cool J Children’s Story - Slick Rick Easy Does It - Easy E Cocktails - Too $hort “Anything by Uncle Luke, anything that 2 Live Crew Made. They was just bad so that made me like them.”
List of 5 songs on a desert island of only white singers?
Fetish - Selena Gomez Cold - Maroon 5 “I’m not even sure [of any more.]”
Everyday I work out I run on the track or run in my neighborhood or good on the treadmill for like an hour. In that hour that’s my time to try different music. So I’ve been listening to Uzi’s album, Lil Baby, Triple X, 6lack, SZA, Solange. I like listening to stuff that I can play the whole album to take my mind off of working out.
On music that inspires him:
I would love to hear music that inspires me and makes me say ‘Oh I need to go in the studio,’ But that rarely happens anymore. It used to happen a lot. When I was first coming up and it was like me, T.I., Young Gotti, Young Jeezy, Lil Wayne, 2 Chainz, Juvenile and I would hear all that and be like let’s go record. But when I listen to music now it doesn’t make me want to record. But when I go listen to something like the old Get Rich or Die Trying album, it makes me want to record. It puts me in that place where I was before.
Maybe it’s because I don’t know these new artists but I felt like I knew the other artists. Because I was locked up I don’t know these knew people. I felt like I knew BG. I don’t care what he say, if BG makes an album I want it, if C Murda makes an album, I want it, if 50 Cent make an album, I’ve got to listen to it regardless because I feel like I know them from being a fan of their music for so many years.
On staying relevant musically:
I just keep making myself accessible to the youth; the new artists, the new producers, the new DJs, the new sound. I’m just curious. I may not like this genre of music as much as I liked the old genre but I’m still curious about it. I still want to sign the next hot artist whether he’s alternative, hip hop, r&b, soul, whatever. I want to find something good and I’m always willing to collaborate and I feel like that keeps me on my toes. It pushes me.
It’s like if I collaborate with Fifth Harmony I want to leave it so people are like “Gucci killed it.” I think a lot of artists when they get big, they don’t collaborate. The more money they make, the more closed off they are. That’s why they kind of self destruct. Their price [for features] is too high and they just sort of close themselves in. Like I know I’m dope but I think other artists are dope too. It’s like how is [this other person] wack if he got fans? If they like it, evidently he’s doing something that people enjoy it so maybe we can collaborate and do something where people enjoy it. Or maybe it’s trash.
A song that you’ve regretted recording:
“Pillz” I was high as hell when I did that song and the next day when they played it I was like ‘don’t do that because it’s like I’m telling on myself!’ At the end of the day I made millions but I was tripping like ‘why would you put that song out?!’
The most talented young hip-hop artist right now:
I used to say it was [Young Thug] but now I’m saying it’s a tie between Thug and Quavo.
Who is the hip-hop artist whose career you most admire and think of as a role model?
As a role model, I feel Jay Z should be commended, but he’s not one of my favorite artists by far. I feel like what he’s done and what he’s doing as far as business, that’s someone you can say you want to model your career after that trajectory. But for me it’s Project Pat or Pimp C.
Now read about the Fall 2017 albums we need the most.