XXLMag.com: Did you ever think this is how you would be doing press for your first major-label release, from prison?
Gucci Mane: My status right now, with my album out, is that Iím very grateful, very thankful. I had been out of jail for eight months, and in that time, Iíve gotten to work with a lot of artists Iíve always wanted to work with. I put my record label together; my new situation with Warner went well. I built a lot of anticipation, I worked hard in those eight months, and Iím pleased with the recognition Iím getting. Iím at the height of my career so far. Itís a blessing just to have people who would want to buy your stuff and to be anticipated. But in the little time I got here, I really can handle it. Itís just a small,
little stepping-stone of where Iíve got to go.
After your most-recent arrest, your lawyer said that you had tested positive for cocaine and marijuana. But when I visited you, you said you have had clean tests for months and those charges were old.
My urinalysis was from, like, six months ago. I think it was for marijuana. But it definitely wasnít from cocaine. I have never used cocaine. Thatís just not true. Then I stopped smoking and stopped drinking. For the last six months, I havenít used any drugs, and I will continue to claim sobriety. Thatís why
I said that at the BET Awards and made that PSA. Because thatís something I took to and made a part of my life. So even when I do get out of here, I plan on continuing that, and Iím proud of myself for that. That gave me peace, even in the situation Iím in now. I know you have to be optimistic. Even if youíre going through something that you expect to be good and it turns out bad, you know it will get well.
What do you think it was, during those eight months, that built up the anticipation for this album?
I think, over the years, when I first started my career, a lot of situations that I was in made people kind of shy away from me. It kind of made people have a curiosity about me but a slight fear to work with me. So as people have gotten to know me and spread word around the industry that I was a stand-up guyÖthat
I was a great businessman and I always hold my word in every business transaction I doóthat made people open to wanna work with me. And once they got in the studio with me or we handled some business together, that went well. But compared to what they were hearing, because people were kind of blackballing me. So it took years and years just for that to die down. But once people opened the door for me to work with them, it just took off from there. I did have the talent. And that whole time, while they were scared to mess with me or work with me, Iíve been getting better. So I guess things just happenÖ Canít never question how things happen. Even though it was hard to struggle all the time, doing it on my own independently, once I did break through that door, I just came straight through there.
Why do you think they were scared of you? Why were you blackballed? What gave you that impression?
Why? Just my history. Nothing that specifically I want to go into. Just the history of me.
Backstory has become such an important part of rap artistsí appeal. Fans are very familiar with the life stories of people like Eminem, 50 Cent and Jay-Z. Do you think your story is well-known? Do you want it to be?
I donít think my story is as known as those artistsí. But I feel like, in a way, people know me better than they know these people that you named. Because a lot of my fans, they feel like they know me. They feel like they can hang with me. Iím more touchable than a lot of those artists. Iím, like, an around-the-way boyóa dude that you can relate to. And a lot of those guys, they canít relate to them. Even though they know their stories in and out, they canít relate to them. And with me being from the streetsóhonestly, with the life Iíve lived, some things I canít even shareóand they respect that. But for some of the people who are just now learning about me, there is kind of a mystique to me, a curiosity that I think attracts them to me, to want to get to know me. And I give them bits and pieces of it. When it comes to me and God puts it on my heart to share something with somebody, I do it, but thatís not something that I feel compelled to do. I donít think thatís a requirement of being an artistóto air out everything in your closet of everything that you done went through. I donít feel you have to do that. Thatís all if you want to. If you feel you can help someone by doing that, thatís a good reason to do it. But to do it to show that Iím harder than this other artist or that Iím more real, I donít feel I have to do that, because I know where
I stand in my community.
There have been long-standing problems between you and Young Jeezy. The public perception is that it all stems from the dispute over the ďIcyĒ song. And then from the shooting incident, in May of 2005, because the man who was killed, Henry Lee Clark III, was said to be an associate of Jeezyís. Some have speculated that Jeezyís recent problems with DJ Drama are because Drama collaborated on mixtapes with you. What are your thoughts on the situation with Jeezy?
[EDIT NOTE: This interview was conducted prior to Gucci and Jeezy squashing their beef over Atlanta airwaves last December.]
That situation with me and homie, that just happened. I definitely didnít expect that it would work out like that when we first got in the studio and made those records, and I donít think he did, either. So itís either like we can keep that going on forever or we can agree to disagree, and push on. With me, Iíve already pushed on. And a lot of people on my team, they follow the leader, what I got going on. So if I donít speak on it, theyíre not going to speak on it. And canít nobody push my buttons to make me do anything. So regardless of whether anybody disses me or doesnít like me, that doesnít make me dislike them. Instead, they donít like me.
Me and him are in two different places right now. There was a time where, honestly, I was angry, and I was upset, and I dissed him a lot. But now I donít feel like that. I dissed him and a lot of other people. But right now Iím not even there no more. Iím so focused on trying to keep my record label tight and keep my family tight, keep everything going on the up and allow God to keep blessing me. So I donít like to get into a lot of negative things. And thatís just negative. Even though it may sell a trillion records, itís just not the lane that I want to go. I want to show people that Gucci is a talented songwriter, that heís a hell of a performer, and that heís a stand-up guy, and he made something out of literally nothing. And I feel like thatís a story that can help a lot of people. A lot of Black brothers need to hear that. A lot of all [different] colored brothers need to hear thatóand sistersóthat you can do it. So thatís the song that I like to sing. Itís so easy to be angry and negative, and itís hard to say that you was hurt. And people donít do that. So Iíd like to be the first person to say Iíll do it, and maybe people will follow my lead.
Even though the murder charges against you were dropped, your lawyer spoke about the difficulty youíre having with your role in Henry Lee Clarkís death.
I never glorified that situation, you know what Iím saying? I rarely ever rap about it, if I ever rap about it. But, at the same time, you know, it always will bother me that someone had lost their life. You know, even if I donít say anything about it or speak about it, it always bothers me and will bother me until I die. That was a situation I didnít want to be put in, and it was also a situation I wouldnít wish on nobody to be in. But some things happen for a reason. And the past, I canít go back andÖ I canít edit the past. I can only try to use that situation to help me help someone else, so they donít be in that situation, ícause who wants to be locked up? And for a murder charge, and probably face the death penalty for a charge, ícause that could go either which way. The law said I was right, but I still hold that with me. And I still have to take that to the grave with me. Some people are gonna see that and think thatís tough-guy ****. But the tough guy is the person to say, ****, man, I wouldnít wish that on you. Donít go down that road, lilí shawty. Try to stay in school. Try and make something out yourself. You can be a rapper. You can be a producer. Kids, you can be an executive. You can be whatever. You can own XXL magazine. Do something positive with your life. Raise your family, be a good brother, be a good father, be a good son to your mother. Thatís tough-guy **** to me. óVanessa Satten