Whether you know him as The Gooch, Big Gooch, Gucci The Glacier, Gucci LaFlare or, simply, Gucci Mane-the rap moniker he adopted as a tribute to the nickname "Goochie Man" that his grandmother gave his father years ago-one thing remains true: There's a good chance you've heard Gucci Mane's name somewhere in the last 12 months. In 2009 alone, Gucci Mane has recorded more than 150 songs for 40 different mixtapes and albums. He has successfully elevated his name from the underground rap scene in the South straight to the top of the pop charts with appearances on four different Top 20 singles, including Mariah Carey's "Obsessed," Mario's "Break Up," featuring Sean Garrett, Trey Songz's "LOL J," featuring Soulja Boy, and his own street single, "Wasted," featuring Plies and OJ Da Juiceman, which recently landed at No. 1 on urban mainstream radio.
"When I came home from being incarcerated in March, my manager challenged me to collaborate with everyone that reached out to me in the next few months," says Gucci. "That challenge has changed the entire direction of my career. My perspective is broader."
But Gucci Mane also isn't new to this. After releasing dozens of mixtapes over the course of the last five years, performing at hundreds of venues across the country and garnering hundreds of thousands of fans in various pockets of the country, Gucci Mane wants people to know him for more than just his unique nickname. Ready to prove his worth, this winter Gucci Mane will finally release his highly-anticipated solo album The State Vs. Radric Davis.
The road to success has been nothing short of a challenge for Gucci Mane. Born Radric Davis in Bessemer, Alabama, Gucci Mane relocated to the Zone 6 area of East Atlanta when he was just 9 years old and, as a teen, did everything he could to make ends meet for himself and his family. But after a short stint in prison on drug-related charges in 2001, he decided to focus solely on his interest in music. He teamed up with local producer Xavier "Zaytoven" Dotson and created his first self-titled mixtape, which he distributed from the trunk of his car.
"I sold about 1000 of those in a couple days," recalls Gucci. "The streets ate them up and they've been hungry for my music ever since."
By 2003, Gucci Mane got his first taste of national fame when he teamed up with fellow Atlanta rapper Jay ' Young Jeezy ' Jenkins to record the infectious club anthem "Icy." The single spread quickly, gaining a huge cult-like following for both artists. Unfortunately, this rise to the top of the Southern rap scene was followed by misfortune. A dispute between Gucci Mane and his collaborator resulted in Gucci Mane having to serve almost a year in prison on attempted murder charges in 2005.
Supported by his manager Debra Antney and her management company Mizay Entertainment, Gucci Mane didn't stay down for long. After the success of his 2005 debut album Trap House, his well-received 2006 follow-up Hard To Kill and his 2007 major label debut Back To The Trap House, Gucci Mane was a star-in-the-making. But he wanted more.
In 2008, just before serving another prison sentence for a probation violation stemming from the 2005 incident, Gucci made sure people would remember his name- for good. He relentlessly recorded hundreds of tracks and leaked them to the streets and the Internet through his So Icey Entertainment and 1017 Brick Squad Records imprints. Showcasing an extremely creative knack for crafting songs and delivering them in his unmistakable Southern drawl, Gucci secured a loyal fan base, becoming more popular than ever by the time he was released from jail in March 2009. As the fourth most-searched artist on all of MySpace, his efforts even earned him a 6 slot on MTV's 10 Hottest MCs In The Game list in October 2009.
"No artist this year has more effectively merged the underground with the mainstream," MTV's staff concluded during the Hottest MCs panel discussion. "He's broken through in '09 and shined through the clouds of controversy that have continued to dampen his career."
With a past full of struggle and a hustler's journey to success, the future looks very promising for this Atlanta rapper. Though he continues to battle ongoing legal issues, he spent the better part of 2009 commanding hefty fees for performances throughout the country and completing the long-awaited The State Vs. Radric Davis-his first album to be released through So Icey/Asylum/Warner Bros. Records. Fueled by "Wasted" and his next single "Spotlight," featuring Usher, which promises to introduce even more fans to his music, it's not hard to see why Gucci Mane has one of the most anticipated albums of the year on his hands. With album appearances from Lil Wayne and Soulja Boy-not to mention strong production efforts from Polow Da Don, Drumma Boy, Sean Garrett, Mannie Fresh and more-2009 is slated to be the year that leaves Gucci Mane's name forever engraved in the annals of hip hop history.
"I want to be considered one of the best," says Gucci. "I already know I am, but I want the rest of the world to know it, too."