Somewhere in between emerging as Atlanta's Lean-soaked trap-rap cult leader and transforming into America's svelte kale-eating sweetheart with the diamond-white smile, Gucci Mane became a megastar. It's perhaps hip-hop's happiest ending, stemming from a story with a potentially tragic conclusion. However, Gucci Mane managed to turn his entire life around and penned that ascent in his newest memoir The Autobiography of Gucci Mane (releasing September 19 via Simon & Schuster). The book (co-authored by music journalist Neil Martinez-Belkin) paints a well-rounded portrait of Gucci Mane—a man who initially moonlighted as an artist in the midst of full-time hustling, finding himself in and out of prison while simultaneously cultivating one of the most significant rap movements in history.
The final prison round—his recent two-year bid for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon—would seemingly prove to be his last, as Gucci Mane exited those prison bars a new man. In reading his memoir, you can't help but feel like it's the saga of the "old Gucci," a person we now barely recognize amidst his current iteration. Still, it's a cautionary tale for anyone who assumes they're Teflon and a note of inspiration for anyone who thinks their lives can't evolve. There is much more to the book, so here are some Gucci Mane factoids you may have never known about hip-hop's reformed bad boy.
Gucci Mane hated interviews.
In the prologue to the story, he writes:
I hated doing interviews. I'd try to keep my composure but inside I'd be festering, fuming that people were putting me in a situation where I had to speak on things that were the last things I wanted to speak about. I'd tell myself to give them the benefit of the doubt. That these were journalists doing their jobs. That they didn't know how fucked up it was to ask me those questions. That they weren't trying to disrespect me. Still, I always felt disrespected.
You'd never know that now from his most recent interviews, like his talk with his favorite writer Malcolm Gladwell.
There was an original Gucci Mane.
Gucci Mane's dad was the first Gucci Mane. And our Gucci Mane wasn't even the Gucci, Jr.
"Originally, he'd given the nickname Gucci to one of his nephews," Gucci Mane explains of his dad's bestowing of the legendary moniker. Of course, its origins are derived from the family affair with the Gucci brand, though the "Man" became a "Mane" due to regional diction. "I'm pretty sure that's just some country, Alabama twang," Gucci writes of the "Mane." So if he's the third Gucci in the long line of Guccis, can he be classified as the remix? Arguably the best version—like when Gucci hopped on GoldLink's song "Crew."
Gucci never forgot where he came from…literally.
While Gucci Mane has consistently held down Atlanta, he's an Alabama guy at heart. So much so, that his business ventures are named after his earliest Bessemer, Alabama stomping grounds. "I came up in my granddaddy's house at 1017 First Avenue—an olive-green, two bedroom in Bessemer near the train tracks," he writes. That "1017" house number became 1017 Bricksquad, a label that would house some of hip-hop's finest in their nascent stages, including Waka Flocka Flame, Young Thug, OJ da Juiceman, Migos, Chief Keef, and many more. As for the street name First Avenue, well that was given the honor of Gucci's management company name, First Avenue Management.
Gucci was slinging drugs as a pre-teen, but was still head of the class.
In 7th grade, Gucci found his way to drug dealing after seeing how flashy the drug dealers were. "I never had no positive male role models growing up," he writes, "so to me these were the coolest guys I knew." He started selling weed, but quickly graduated to crack-cocaine when his mom attempted to give him $50 for new school clothes. Knowing he couldn't buy the top-tier looks, he went to the dope man and bought some slabs. "The dope game was on and poppin' from that moment on," he writes. "There would never be any sort of extracurricular activities for me again." Still, we learn in a later chapter that he graduated high school with a 3.0 GPA in 1998 and a HOPE scholarship to Georgia Perimeter College. The game clearly had other plans for him.
The drugs came in increments, yet Lean first put him in the hospital.
Now a clean man, we know that Gucci Mane struggled with addiction for years. He started smoking weed at 15, though once Gucci returned to Alabama to hustle years later, he would be put onto Grit (Alabama's slang term for Lean) by his friend Bunny. His first dose would be toxic, as it wasn't diluted with soda. Aftershocks lasted for days, until Gucci became recognizably off. He stayed in the hospital, "until I started to feel like myself again," but once he enjoyed the candy-taste of ingesting Lean through a soda can, it was game over and ecstasy even followed. "Long story short, soon enough I was regularly fucking with hard drugs," he explains. The irony is that his doctor warned him that Lean was causing him a chemical imbalance. "'This drug is just not for you,'" reiterates Gucci of his doctor's words. Good thing he finally listened.
Gucci's art imitates life.
Gucci Mane's lyrics are steeped in reality. That line about selling dope at Texaco on Bouldercrest in his song "I'm A Star"? That really happened. In "Lawnmower Man" when Gucci rapped, "Gucci bring the money back," it reflected his actual swindling ways. "Finessing people out of their money came naturally," he writes. Even his song with Marilyn Manson, "Fancy Bitch" came from the night he and Keyshia Ka'Oir were sitting next to Marilyn Manson and his date at the Spring Breakers premiere, when Marilyn turned to Gucci and said, "'Looks like we both got us some fancy bitches.'" And when he was in an isolation cell in DeKalb County Jail awaiting potential murder charges he would write, "So pray tonight for Gucci Mane and even pray for Jeezy," who Gucci believes set him up.
The Jeezy situation has many twists and turns.
Gucci Mane's relationship with Jeezy is arguably a toxic one. In the book, Gucci refers to Jeezy's early sound as a "Poor Man's Trick Daddy," though soon after he would respect the Snowman's street sound. Jeezy would jump on the star-studded "Black Tee Remix," but their relationship would continue on a fast decline. Rumors circulated that Jeezy didn't like Gucci, even when the two would unite for "So Icy."
"When Jeezy decided it was 'Fuck Gucci,' a lot of dick riders seemed to fall in line out of fear of going against him and the crew he was running with," Gucci writes. As previously mentioned, it was believed that Jeezy set up Gucci for those ducked murder charges. Though even when the two declared a truce once younger guys like Waka Flocka, the late Slim Dunkin, and Slick Pulla started beefing, hard feelings would surface again surrounding "Trap Or Die 2." Per Gucci, the track was sent to him by Jeezy to add a verse. "He pitched it like I'd just taken it upon myself to remix his song," Gucci says.
Gucci can be petty too though.
That "Poor Man's Trick Daddy" wouldn't be the last time Gucci threw some casual shade. The first time he met Juvenile, in the midst of potentially collaborating, he told Juve, "'You're not Mannie Fresh." (The two would later pretend to meet for the first time during their second meeting). When he first met Migos, he gave the guys gold chains off his own neck. Why? "The first thing I noticed about these boys was that they had on a bunch of fake-ass jewelry," he writes. Then there was the time he used someone else's mansion in the midst of an LRG shoot to film his "Fuck Da World" video with Future (who coincidentally almost signed to Gucci's label). There's some other significant shade in the memoir from other artists, like when both Rick Ross and Scott Storch insulted Gucci in their first meeting by congratulating him for ducking murder charges. Nicki Minaj's introduction to Gucci was chased with an insult to Lil' Kim off the bat over Gucci collaborating with the Queen Bee. Per Gucci, Nicki's opener included: "'Why would you put a bitch from Brooklyn on there though?" Welp.
Gucci gave Young Thug Peewee Longway's advance.
While Gucci doesn't really check in to say how Peewee felt, he does tell us this: "Peewee wanted me to sign Thug as part of a three-man crew, but it was clear who the diamond in the rough was. So I took the twenty-five thousand I'd had ready for Peewee, gave it to Young Thug, and signed him on the spot. I hadn't known him longer than thirty minutes." It was a smart move, but wow.
No hard feelings, Waka.
We learn a lot about Gucci Mane's relationship with mentee Waka Flocka Flame and his mom throughout the novel, which was to be expected. Waka's mom, the now-notorious Deb Antney, was originally working with Gucci as a liaison for his non-profit work. She quickly rose up the ranks to much more in Gucci's life, as did her son. It was Deb and Gucci's mom who staged an intervention to get Gucci off the streets once his music career had lift off. "'You're throwing your life away,'" Gucci writes of Antney's words. "'You have a real chance to make it. Why would you be back here doing this?'" Deb was none too pleased that Gucci started cultivating Waka's music career despite its fruitful outcome. As for his relationship with Waka? It's clear there's a bond there. Gucci saw Waka moving in a potentially violent direction on the streets and plucked him for a leading role in the Brick Squad.
It was producer Polow da Don who saw the light in Waka, too. "'That dude who with you, Gucci…I think he could be a star,'" Gucci tells of Polow's words. Gucci's reply: "'You know what, Polow?...I been thought that.'" Gucci writes of acknowledging Waka becoming his own man and the friction that admittedly caused. Add to that Deb Antney leaving the fold. "It would always be a domino effect, with each fallen domino sending me deeper and deeper into despair until I crashed," he writes. "That Waka and I were having problems didn't help. Things between him and I had been rocky ever since I officially got rid of Deb as my manager earlier that year." The student has to leave the class eventually, but at a distance it's clear Gucci moved on.
The mystery of the ice cream cone face tat is revealed.
At some point, you looked at Gucci's ice cream cone face tat and wondered, "What were you thinking?" Well, now we know. Of course, the tat was designed after his ice cream cone chain, but getting a tattoo of it—on his face, no less—was the real mystery. Well, it's finally been demystified in Gucci's words:
With all I'd been through of late, I'd never felt more alienated. I was an outcast, a rebel, a weirdo. More than anything, I was tired. Tired of running away from my reputation, tired of trying to convince people I wasn't a bad person. I wanted to embrace being the villain. I wanted to broadcast that I didn't give a fuck what anyone said or thought about me. I'd just gotten a gold grill put in my mouth and I wanted to alter my appearance even more.
And there you have it. Kind of amazing how Gucci as the perceived villain has drastically transformed, no?
Gucci got lean once he laid off the Lean.
Recent photos of Gucci Mane show how the star's physique has dramatically changed during his earlier days—where his stomach was large and bulged, almost to the point of deformity. Gucci writes how the Lean made him look "pregnant," due to sever constipation. A year before serving his bid, he would go clean, and the pounds began to drop following the Lean withdrawal, which was traumatizing enough for him. However, since he was no longer constipated, his body rejected all of that excess weight. "I couldn't believe it when I stepped on the scale: 240 pounds," he writes. "I was 265 when they weighed me at Grady Hospital. I'd lost twenty-five pounds in two and a half weeks."
The noticeable change inspired him as he awaited Judgment Day. "That was when I made a decision. As long as I was here I was going to put my energy into getting more of this weight off." Once his term began, he took a firm stance on his life and the addictions that grabbed him for decades. "I'd now been sober for a year and I already knew I would never drink lean or use any type of drugs again," Gucci explains. "I really had no desire to go back…I now associated drugs with my lowest moments, with prison, with all the time I'd cost myself and others." So now that we have the new Gucci Mane, it's easy not to miss the old one.