Gucci Mane: Lab Rat

It’s a quiet night in the “Z” room at Sony Studios in midtown Manhattan, where various engineers and Czar Entertainment representatives are milling around in anticipation of Atlanta rapper Gucci Mane’s arrival. The silence is broken by a commotion at the door. Debbie, Gucci Mane’s full-bodied and outspoken manager, storms in with Gucci and friends in tow. While Debbie launches into a diatribe addressed to the last producer who delivered a sub-par beat for Gucci, the iced-out rapper quietly and speedily twists up a fat one at the door in preparation for a night of music making. For Gucci Mane’s first major label release on Atlantic Records, everything has to be custom top of the line.

Watching the cheerful rapper in full creative mode, you would never know that just over a year ago he was locked up six months for the aggravated assault of club promoter Troy Bufford and facing a charge for the murder of Henry “Pookie Loc” Clark, a Macon, Georgia rapper associated with Young Jeezy’s Corporate Thugs Entertainment label. As the story goes, Clark and four other assailants barged into the house of a female friend of Gucci’s armed with duct tape, brass knuckles and guns. When one of these men expressed the intention to let him have it, Gucci swiftly grabbed a burner from a nearby table and fired at his attackers. Days later, Pookie Loc’s body was found in the woods behind an Atlanta middle school. Had the rivalry between Young Jeezy and Gucci Mane, sparked by a financial dispute over their hit collaboration “So Icy”, really spilled over from wax to the streets?

Tonight, Gucci Mane appears unscathed by all the drama and strictly bout his business. After the first two verses are perfected and packaged, it’s hook time. “He always kills the hooks” one of his boys remarks, and after just a few clicks of his black-and-white diamond encrusted timepiece, Gucci enters the booth in a cloud of smoke and makes it snow: “I got that bird flu shawty, the bird is my business/ I got that bird flu shawty in the Summer its Christmas/ I got that bird flu, shawty it’s a terrible sickness.” The next day, a prolific Gucci records seven more songs, most of which he thinks will make the final cut for his first major label release on the So Icy/Czar Entertainment/Atlantic Records joint deal. The album is backed by beats from Reefa, Mannie Fresh, Nitti, and Zaytoven. On a break from recording, Gucci sat down with AllHipHop.com to talk about his current label situation, time away from the game, and the new album.

AllHipHop.com: What exactly is the deal you have signed?

Gucci Mane: We got a situation with Atlantic Records, we not really going to go a lot in depth with it, but I’m not with Big Cat records anymore. I got my own label, So Icy Entertainment, just doing my thing and putting out my debut with Atlantic.

AllHipHop.com: What happened with Big Cat?

Gucci Mane: Everything was not situated the way I wanted it to be, I thought I was going to be bigger than I was because I put my heart and soul into my first album Trap House. But they basically went on strike, so I said I don’t want to be a part of that no more and I had to get a better situation. It was painful and it was stressful, but I just had to stick to it.

AllHipHop.com: How did your incarceration affect the sales of Trap House?

Gucci Mane: It messed up a lot, I was doing a lot of promotional shows and had a lot of sales and as soon as I got locked up, they went down. It was big on the street level, but I wanted to get out there and touch everyone that I could, and I couldn’t do that from the jail cell. I just couldn’t do it.

AllHipHop.com: Did you feel Big Cat wasn’t holding you down promotion-wise while you were locked up?

Gucci Mane: I don’t know what they was doing, ‘cause I was in jail, really, I was just focused on getting out. When you locked up for murder charges and aggravated assault charges and facing life or 20 years, you really thinking about getting out of jail before you are thinking about anything else. You can’t multitask in jail; you gotta focus on trying to get out more than anything else. So even though I had faith that I was gonna get out and faith I was in the right, at the same time, I was still in the South- anything could happen.

AllHipHop.com: You also got assaulted in jail, right?

Gucci Mane: I got in a fight when I was in jail, somebody hit me with some sharp object, but it was okay. It didn’t mean nothing, it only made me stronger, I’m still here.

AllHipHop.com: The night that Pookie Loc and four other men came to get at you, were you afraid everything was in the balance?

Gucci Mane: I wish I could go into details so I could let the world hear my whole story, but there is a statute of limitations on the choices that I got, so I can’t go into any depth about it, but I would like to talk about it because I feel my story should be heard so I can be a free man and enlighten all these people, but I just cant do it.

AllHipHop.com: Seeing you in the booth, you would never know that you had been through six months in jail and facing a murder charge…

Gucci Mane: The whole time, everything I do, I put into my music. Ever since I started, when I start, I got to finish. I ain’t no quitter. Even before the deal, I was in the studio every day, spending icy money just recording, ‘cause I had to stay polished. I don’t like to hear my own music sounding like I’m in a basement, so I hold on to myself for me to stay sharp in my craft. I went through that, and that’s what allowed me to get songs done with ease, cause I knew I had to get sharp again.

AllHipHop.com: Do you feel like you have a lot of enemies?

Gucci Mane: Not enemies, player haters. Because an enemy is someone who tries to kill you, a player hater is someone who tries to kill your character, or kill you financially. It could still be death as well but I wouldn’t say that counts as an enemy. Enemies is a strong word, I would say just player haters, that’s a weak word.

AllHipHop.com: Did you hear Young Jeezy’s “Streets on Lock” track, from The Inspiration?

Gucci Mane: I haven’t heard that.

AllHipHop.com: The song indicates that the beef between you Jeezy is still in effect…

Gucci Mane: I knew that won’t die down from when it first started, I know the type of people that I’m dealing with out there and how they player hate. I couldn’t turn my cheek and act like it ain’t happening, I had to face that. It’s a no-brainer, just something you gotta deal with on your path to success, ‘cause that come with it.

AllHipHop.com: Did you have any problems with BMF?

Gucci Mane: I ain’t never had no situation with BMF like that, I just know the guys from the club I ain’t never had no beef with nobody in the industry, people just have problems with me ‘cause I’m a creative guy, and they hating on me. But they been hating on me for years, I don’t cry about people hating, I don’t want nobody to feel sorry for me.

AllHipHop.com: Would you say that you’re an underdog?

Gucci Mane: I’m definitely an underdog, and to me, it’s a good thing. I like being an underdog. I’ve been one so long that I’ve got to accept it. I wouldn’t know how to play with all the good favor, I ain’t never had it. Being the underdog is the way I gotta do it. That’s the way the cards was set for me, so I’m going to run with that hand, I ain’t got no problem with it.

AllHipHop.com: Are you excited about the way this album is turning out?

Gucci Mane: I’m more than excited, I hope everyone will appreciate it like I appreciate it, because I knew how much talent I had the whole time, but people was just in my way. ‘Cause when you have talent, you don’t want to toot your own horn, but at the same time you gotta say, “Damn, I know that I’m more creative than a lot of these guys, I know that my voice sounds different, I know that I’m a better rapper, I know that I’m a better performer.” But it’s easy for you to say that. I’ve already got a track record on the independent label so on the major, I know it’s going to shine, I know it’s fin’ to do numbers. I know it; I’ve been waiting on it so now I’m focused on going into the studio and making the songs shine.

AllHipHop.com: Is this album going to be different from Trap House and Hard to Kill?

Gucci Mane: It’s definitely going to be different, but at the same time, it’s going to have that grimy level, ‘cause I’m still in the hood, they can’t take me out the hood with no major label deal, it won’t happen.

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