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Gucci Mane The Doctor Of The Streets

Story by Jacinta Howard
Photography by Donna Permell/Prime Phocus Photography for Steed Media Service
Styling by

Gucci Mane

When Gucci Mane enters the photo studio in Atlanta, he’s relaxed — reserved even. It’s his first photo shoot since being released from jail. While his label, So Icey Entertainment, the city (and the entire hip-hop community) celebrated his return with a full-on “Gucci Mane weekend,” Gucci concentrated on getting back to what gives him peace — his music.

Gucci’s career has been full of highs and lows. Just as his breakthrough single, “Icy” from his debut album, Trap House, was hitting hard on radio in 2005, he got wrapped up in a beef with Young Jeezy that ended in allegations of murder. All of the charges were eventually dropped.

In 2007, Gucci released the slow-grinding single, “Freaky Gurl,” which contained a hypnotic sample of soul singer Joi’s song, “Lick.” The single showed that he had the potential to expand beyond the street sound that made him one of the most popular acts in a city bursting at the seams with rappers. But in 2008, he was arrested again, this time for violating the terms of his probation. He eventually served six months in county jail.

Still, his buzz remained strong, propelled partly by the drama that has followed him since his career began, and partly because of the infectious singles he routinely drops, including the recent, “Stoopid” and his latest feature with Busta Rhymes, “I’m the s—.”

Now, the pressure is on for Gucci to realize his full potential and become the bona fide global hip-hop star he seems destined to be. As he sits calmly in the barber’s chair getting a fresh trim for the photo shoot, it’s clear that his time is now — and Gucci has finally come to terms with himself and his career.

The Prescription for Business:
“You can’t depend on nobody. You gotta build your own fire.”
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned since ‘Icy’ dropped?
You gotta stand on your own two feet. You can’t depend on nobody. You gotta build your own fire. You gotta stand by your own heat. You can’t ride nobody else’s coattails and be mad at nobody else if they don’t help you. You gotta help yourself.

The Prescription for Avoiding Jail Time:
“You should try to do everything you can to not get there.”
Gucci ManeDid you receive preferential treatment in jail?
Nah. I think I got the same treatment.

What was the one thing that got under your skin the most while you were incarcerated?
The one thing that got under my skin a lot was being away from my family — not being able to be around my loved ones.

What’s the ‘scared straight’ story that you would tell young dudes to sway them from going to jail?
I’d tell them it’s a life-changing experience and not a place nobody would want to be. It’s not something that’s cool. You should try to do everything you can to not get there.

The Prescription for Dealing With the Recession:
“… save, save, save.”
What tips do you have for surviving the recession?
Definitely save, save, save. If you save something now, then you can put that with something that you save later on. Do whatever you can do to cut back on spending — every penny counts right now.

What do you say to the people who are still focused on material things, even as the economy tanks?
It’s not wrong to want material things. It’s not wrong to want to treat yourself. But when you treat yourself, make sure you worked hard for it. Grade yourself on a tough scale. Make sure you saved a lot, and spent a little.

The Prescription for Relationships:
“Eyes tell a lot about a lady.
You can tell almost what kind of person she is.”

What’s the best part of a woman’s body — besides the obvious?
Eyes. Eyes tell a lot about a lady. You can tell almost what kind of person she is. You can tell if she’s shy, if she’s sexy, if she’s mean, all just by looking in her eyes.

What type of woman do you like?
I’m a party animal. I like party girls.

What’s the best thing a woman has ever told you?
Girls tell you so much stuff. You gotta watch what these girls tell you. They try to gas you up just because you’re famous or you’re getting money. But I don’t be studying that. I don’t believe nothing nobody say.

But how do you know she’s not just conning you?
Man, I don’t know [laughing]. You almost just gotta close your eyes and just guess [laughing].

What’s the worst thing a woman can do in a relationship?
I don’t rock with that keeping up with your friends. That’s a quick way to lose me. Girls [are] real big on friends. I’m not the type of person to keep up with the Joneses. I don’t care about what anybody got going on, I only care about what I got going on.

The Prescription for Life:
“Try to be more knowledgeable about the world …”
Gucci ManeIf you could go back and talk to yourself as a kid, what would you tell yourself?
I probably would’ve told myself to stay in school longer [and] get a college degree. I’d try to be more knowledgeable about the world, because I could’ve used that in my profession right now. My vocabulary would be wider. I’d be more knowledgeable. I could touch on more topics in my music. But I only go as far as I know, and that’s the streets.

What were you like when you were younger?
I was bad as a kid, but I was smart. I was in a lot of trouble, but only because I was a busybody and I didn’t have anything to occupy my time. If they’d kept me [involved] with activities … I probably would’ve excelled. I wasn’t into sports or anything. I was just running the streets.

Did you work any odd jobs?
When I was 14 or 15, I worked at Wayfield Foods.

What was your job?
I was the guy that bagged the groceries. That was my first job, it was crazy. I used to have to flip that s— because it wasn’t enough.

Tell us about your foundation.
We travel all around giving out shoes, bikes, haircuts [and] book bags, everything you could think about. I always give back to the community.

Who’s the first person you think about when you wake up?
There’s so many people that I think about — my mother, my son, my auntie, my little brothers … just my whole family. I can’t say one person.

What’s the biggest misconception people have about you?
That I’m not a friendly person, that I don’t like to engage with my fans. I love talking to my fans and just being out and mixing with people. I’ve always been a people person. People think that I’m standoffish, that I’m arrogant and conceited or not that easy to work with. I’m a team player.

Why do you think you have that reputation?
When I first started my career, the crews I was running with … we had so much going on besides rapping. … We didn’t let people in our circle. That probably gave off the feel that we didn’t want to rock with nobody, but really I always was up on anybody that wanted to be down with us.

The Prescription For Becoming a Man:
“If you’re a man, you can’t fault [anybody] for [what’s] going wrong with your life.”
What is your best quality as a man?
I would have to say my work ethic. I’m the hardest working person in the world. Once I have a goal and plan, I’m real diligent on keeping focused on that. … My whole family is like that.

Break down your work ethic.
When I used to be in the trap at the level of just being on the corner, [I’d] be out early in the morning before anybody else was out there and I’d be out later than anybody else was out there. And now, I’m in the studio days [on] end — taking showers in the studio. I work it like the dope game.

What’s your definition of manhood?
My definition of manhood is being able to hold yourself down and your family down, and live your life with no excuses.

What does that mean — ‘live life with no excuses’?
If you’re a man, you can’t fault [anybody] for [what’s] going wrong with your life. You have to try to do positive things and keep revenue coming in. That’s part of being a man. You can’t blame the economy, you can’t blame the white man, you can’t blame your girlfriend, you can’t blame your education. Whatever cards you’re dealt …  play them.

At what point did you realize that you had become a man?
I’ve been on my own since I was 15 or 16. I guess around 14 or 15 I decided that I didn’t need my mom to take care of me anymore.

So you were a man at 14?

I think I was.