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Respect can create careers, especially in a business infatuated with realness. Hip-Hop was born in the streets, surrounded by reality. In the center of madness, the stories that come from that perspective have always been embraced and enamored. Especially in the south, we championed the Boyz N Da Hood. Gucci Mane entered into my life with jewels - the grill, the chains, the rings, he was a walking billboard for his 2004 single, “So Icy.” It was an instant hit, the song was everywhere; it flooded the streets, disrupted radio rotation and infiltrated trap houses and high-schools. The hook was hypnotizing, the beat had a spellbinding bounce and Young Jeezy The Snowman was featured. This was Gucci's introduction to the world, the first collaboration with Zaytoven, the last collaboration with Jeezy, and the beginning of his legacy.
From 2004 to 2015, Gucci Mane has been well respected in the ATL, from the streets of Decatur to the mansions in Buckhead. He never lost his edge, the edge that Jeezy and T.I. have struggled to rediscover. Gucci never succumbed to mainstream standards, there was a time he flirted with the idea, but he truly found success in soaking narratives with his boasting southern drawl, infectious ad-libs and relentless realness. While his contemporaries widened their sound to appeal with their broadening fanbases, he stayed unapoedgeically Atlanta. He’s the face, the voice, and the spirit of Atlanta’s trap scene. He took OJ Da Juiceman off the block and onto the freshmen cover, Waka Flocka went from homeboy to household name. Zaytoven gave him the sound, he branched out and found others that were unknown and gave them a platform before becoming prominent names (Young Thug, Rich Homie Quan, Mike WiLL Made It, Lex Luger, the list goes on and on). Even though he can't seem to stay outside prison bars, he continues to feed the fans, there has never been a lapse in his musical output.
The music is what solidified his position. If you want to know if a girl is truly from Atlanta, play “Go Head” and see if she will recite every single word of the Mac Bre-Z verse, or play “I Think I Love Her” and watch how fast your Samantha transforms into Suzy. On any given Sunday, “Shirtoff” or "Wasted" will turn a pleasant party into a shirtless trap music video. I dare you to argue that Gucci didn’t flow like a waterfall on “Photoshoot” and "Club Hoppin." “I’m a Dog” and “Bricks” are dripping with the qualities of classic Gucci, ridiculous and unforgettable. I like “Worst Enemy,” we get a rare, introspective Gucci, reminiscing on his career. Even his new material like “Off The Leash” with Young Thug and Peewee Longway shows how he’s progressed with song structure without straying far from his winning formula. Plus, that bass, oh lord that bass, subwoofers aren’t ready. “Use Me” is another example of how easy Gucci is able to make a record that thumps, catchy, and proves he’s getting better with time. Mixtapes like No Pad, No Pencil, The Movie, Burrrprint: 3D, albums like Trap House III, Hard to Kill, and The State vs. Radric Davis will live on as some of his most infamous releases. He has released so much music, his discography is intimidating, much like the artist. It’s impossible to create a list of Gucci’s best, most classic material, depending on who you ask, the list will never be perfect.
I know hip-hop on the whole largely looks down on Gucci, but he’s a legend in Atlanta. Once you get past the ice cream cone and the jail stints, he’s a rapper that has influenced and impacted some of the most popular rappers and soundscapes coming from the south. Look back through the last few years of Atlanta hip-hop and you’ll see who was there at the beginning. Radric Davis, Big Guwop, or Mr. Zone 6, whatever you call him, just be sure to give him credit as one of the most important figures in modern rap. Hate him, love him, but don’t disregard him.
[By Yoh, aka The Pied Piper Of Internet Writing, aka @Yoh31.]