Whether or not you’re a fan of the new Gucci Mane, you can’t deny he’s a living legend. His music was a personification of hip-hop’s Boogeyman, delivering a sermon for the streets with his words and a template for the rap game with his extensive discography. These days, he’s closer to Atlanta’s Chance The Rapper, minus the bible-thumping. He cleaned up his image so effectively, conspiracy theories that he’s a clone still circulate. He may have tidied up but Gucci remains as outspoken as ever — which might be why his recent social media outbreaks have been reminiscent of 2013, prior to his incarceration.
I’m not saying Gucci’s online behavior has been erratic but I do believe that perhaps a social media manager would be worth adding to the payroll. All jokes aside, it seems Gucci has been feeling the necessity to remind people about his impact on the rap game. From recounting his first encounter with Quavo and Takeoff to his recent dispute with Breakfast Club hosts DJ Envy and Angela Yee, his recent antics might stem from places of love and confusion respectively. Asserting his “First Day Out” freestyle over JT’s after her release, though, seemed unnecessary. Ultimately, all of this might come across as if he’s trying to latch onto relevancy. But Gucci doesn’t need to do that. He’s established himself as a legend in both the streets and the game. He might not be the most lyrical rapper to have touched a mic but he’s undoubtedly one of the realest. And maybe that’s worth a reminder in the first place.
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While Gucci’s unique story is not entirely relatable to the average consumer, it remains inspiring nonetheless. Despite the violence, drugs, media attention, and legal trouble that riddled his adolescence and career in a very public manner, he’s still managed to make it out. But those same aspects of his life that first captivated the world aren’t necessarily actively informing his music in the same way they once were. Because those factors are no longer vividly present it’s clearly impacted his creativity and perhaps the Gucci Mane brand as a whole. On top of all of that, let’s be real, Gucci Mane’s hit-making formula hasn’t worked in the past two years. It’s hard to really remember any memorable moment he’s had in music within the same time frame. That might be what’s so hard about watching Gucci Mane having to remind people of his impact: his career is sailing smoother than it ever, but the public’s celebration doesn’t reflect that.
On one side of things, I can understand where Gucci is coming from. His protegees, such as Young Thug and Migos, have established themselves in their own right and have seemingly turned their backs on him. Remember when Gucci offered Rich Homie Quan and Young Thug $1M to reunite for a new Rich Gang project? That offer was shut down immediately after Thug reminded Gucci, “U no I’m the n***a got u together wen u came home kid… I’m strait 4life.” Just weeks before, Gucci offered $1M for Gunna to sign to him which was quickly shut down by Thug, also. “I gave him that already kid… #NoCap.”
In the same interview where Gucci threatened to slap the shit out of DJ Envy, Gucci Mane also revealed that he’s hit a rough patch with Migos, a group that he saw early potential in. In April, he claimed that Quavo and Takeoff were wearing fake chains when they first met him, and he gave them the ones off his neck. Takeoff didn’t recall the same story and claimed Gucci was bullshittin’. Although Gucci said that he didn’t mean to ruffle any feathers, he said that Takeoff, at least, hasn’t reached out to him since.
“Everybody else was scared to get in the same room with Thug, and the Migos, and Scooter. They scared. That was my whole thing. I wanted to be like, ‘Damn, I got all the young boys.’ Even if they wild, I’m still openin’ the door for ‘em,” Gucci told Charlamagne. “If they would’ve went to anybody else’s studio, it would’ve taken one day and people would’ve seen how Thug was kickin’ it back then. Because Thug in the streets, he was workin’. People wasn’t openin’ the studio for them. And that’s why I always be like, ‘Man, I’m the GOAT. Remember when I opened them doors for y’all. When y’all know y’all was knuckleheads. We was all on some knucklehead shit. And I treated y’all like y’all was Michael Jackson.’ Or the biggest it was or whoever it is you can think about because that’s how I felt about myself.”
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Those quotes from Gucci Mane’s recent interview with Charlamagne put his recent actions and feelings into perspective. If you’ve read his autobiography, there’s a sense of selflessness, at least in the way he maneuvered through the Atlanta music scene. As long as he’s been the face of Trap Music, he’s used his ability to discover talent and introduce them to a world far beyond the trap.
“To me, all of us in here, we all together. We got one pot. And that was my way of lettin’ ‘em know, ‘Nobody better than you. The same faith I show them, I’mma show you,’” he continued. “I ain’t show them favoritism, either. It’s like, we all the same. But nobody viewed it like that but me. Everyone think they bougie. Even if I just signed you, and you was just fucked up, you was turning up your nose to somebody else I just brought in the door. But I’m the only one with the money and I’m like, ‘Damn, why everybody turnin’ they nose up?’ But I’m goin’ out my pocket first time I meet Thug, [like’,] ‘Whatever money I got, this will get y’all straight for now but the door is open for y’all. We together. When I go somewhere, y’all go. It ain’t no — we a team. Y’all part of the staff. We just all movin’ as one.’ Do I think they’d do that? Nah, ain’t nobody doin’ that.”
And that’s just it — the type of generosity Gucci had for the younger generation isn’t necessarily being reciprocated as you’d expect. It’s not that his relevance depends on the success of his protegees but he is certainly establishing it as a dominant factor. His time behind bars was vital for his own personal wellbeing but as he’s changed, so has the rap game. Expecting everyone to remember what you contributed is hard to do without sounding bitter. At the end of the day, the rap game wouldn’t be what it is now without Gucci Mane sticking his neck out.
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