What a bizarre career Gucci Mane has had. He was one of the archetypical modern southern rappers, emerging from Atlanta in the waning eras of Outkast and Goodie Mob with a buzz saw, head-knock style that favoured quicksilver synths and zonked, artificial bass. Gucci, alongside guys like T.I. and Lil Wayne, hijacked the spotlight from the hotbeds of Los Angeles and New York, causing an existential crisis from old head rap fans that hasn’t quite subsided to this day.
Naturally, it hasn’t all been easy. Gucci Mane (aka Radric Delantic Davis) has dealt with numerous legal issues in recent years, getting booked for violating probation in 2008, erratic driving in 2010, multiple assault charges while locked up in 2011 and gun charges in 2014. In the midst of the trouble he got his infamous ice cream face tattoo and starred in Harmony Korine's unforgettable “Spring Breakers.” In 2016, Gucci Mane was released from prison five months early and promptly got back to work — releasing a mixtape and two studio albums as a free man, and he's dedicated himself to being the hardest working mf in rap ever since.
With weirdos like Rae Sremmurd and Young Thug keeping Atlanta on the map, it’s hard to look at Gucci Mane as anything but a hall of famer. He might have over a million songs to his name when he finally hangs up his mic, but in the meantime, here are our favourites.
Blasé pop hedonism usually doesn’t require much critical thought, but that isn’t the case with “Wasted.” On the surface it’s about as crystal-clear as party jams go — Gucci Mane has spent a career telling us about the herculean amount of weed, pills, and codeine he’s consumed — but here, there’s a slight tinge of melancholy. “Rock star lifestyle might don’t make it, living life high, everyday clique wasted.” You could hear that refrain at every blind-drunk frat party in the country in 2009, but if you were paying attention you’d realize that Gucci was describing a moment where he was losing vast swathes of his life to an endless cross-country delirium. That’s not supposed to be fun. The song is called “Wasted” for a reason.
2. “Beat it Up”
In the first verse Gucci Mane jumps out of bed and cooks up some scrambled eggs and filet mignon before liberally dousing himself with four-figure cologne. In the second verse he sneaks over to your house and puts your blanket in the washing machine before spending some quality time with your girlfriend. In the third verse he double-parks his Aston Martin and rhymes “second option” with “girlfriend watching.” Trey Songz croons a saccharine hook, but the focus is squarely on Gucci who is having the time of his life in the bars. Like so many other Gucci classics, “Beat it Up” was a mixtape flare that caught steam, and frankly we’re lucky to live in an era where artists routinely hand out guaranteed smashes for free.
There are better rappers, better producers, and better hook writers than Gucci Mane, but nobody nails that low-rent, hyper addictive ringtone bleat that’s made his music so addictive, and so influential. “Lemonade” is perhaps the closest Gucci ever came to truly crossing over into Lil Wayne ubiquity before his arrest. Bangladesh cues up some incessant, staccato pianos and a schoolyard trap chant and Guwop stumbles through his verses with that trademark laconic flow — half-asleep and still one of the best rappers in the world. “Lemonade” went nuclear when Gucci was caught in a wide variety of legal issues and put a grim, incarcerated photo of himself on his record covers. Seven years later, we’re still wondering what might’ve happened if his momentum wasn’t stunted.
4. “Worst Enemy”
At this point it’s pretty clear that there’s a pretty big difference between Radric Davis and Gucci Mane. When he avoids the flexes and the id, Davis has always come off empathetic, cerebral and slightly tragic in interviews. That doesn’t shine through in his music all that often, but when it does it can be kind of revelatory. “Worst Enemy” is a downtempo moment on “The State vs. Radric Davis” that focuses squarely on the quiet moments in Gucci’s brain. “MJG said it best man will I ever know, who my friends through thick and thin, cause so called friends will turn to foes.”
5. "I'm a Star"
Lil Wayne was probably the guy who first broke ground on croaky, kush-stained mumble-rap, but Gucci Mane took the aesthetic into the stratosphere. “I’m a Star,” a glistening highlight from 2008 mixtape “The Movie,” is almost incomprehensible. A blizzard of high-treble synths join his giddy sestina of shout-outs and slurry southern slang. Eventually things clear out for one of the simplest (and most effective) hooks he’s ever laid to tape. “I’m a star, everything is up to par, girl look at my car.” There’s an inclination to highlight Gucci’s more serious work over erratic mixtape bangers like “I’m a Star,” but so much of the man’s appeal came from the blacked-out, stream-of-consciousness swagger that showed up on Datpiff every other month.
Gucci Mane thrives in long, dadaist stretches of mixtape fury. The idea of him spending hours with a pencil and pad, bleeding over a track doesn’t quite feel right. He made himself famous through improvisation, but “Timothy” is an exception. It’s the most writerly song in Gucci Mane’s career. The titular character breaks into a car that belongs to a rival gangster, and the whole other side of the town is on his tail. By the third verse the money from the break-in is gone, the police are getting closer and Timothy has sunk into a constant paranoia. It’s a fairy tale directly from Gucci Mane’s perspective and fundamental proof that the man should be allowed to do whatever he wants.
7. “My Shadow”
Gucci Mane has an unfair reputation of being a spotty technical rapper, much in the same way people claim Kurt Cobain wasn’t a great guitarist. If you’re one of the people who believes that Davis gets by on vibes instead of bars, go listen to “My Shadow” from “The Burrrrprint The Movie 3-D.” “I’m so icy veteran so you can’t say beginner’s luck, all my boys tote choppers so you best bet robbing armored trucks.” It’s got all the looney wordplay and casual sadism of Guwop’s best tracks, but presented in a more violent version of his trademark drawl. It brings to mind that time T-Pain dropped the autotune and slayed “Karaoke,” putting everyone on notice.
Gucci Mane has an interesting fixation on Christmas. In late 2016 he put out a record called The Return of East Atlanta Santa, the sequel to 2014’s East Atlanta Santa. On the cover he appeared — of course — in a santa suit with a silver glock. Years before either record, he released a song called “Weird” which repurposed public-access Christmas songs into trap anthems. “Diamonds same color as Santa Claus beard, ho ho ho I think Santa Claus here, dashing through the snow in my old Chevrolet.” Gucci Mane never lets common sense get in the way of a bad idea. Sometimes that’s disastrous (like his V-Nasty collaboration) but “Weird” is lovable, organic and uniquely him.
You don’t need anyone to explain to you what “Pillz” is about— "’Gucci, show time!’ Give me five more minutes, and a cold orange juice, cause I'm really really tripping.” The song was released on “Hard to Kill” back in 2006, a long time before Nicki Minaj, Trinidad James, Riff Raff and an entire generation of EDM, designer-drug influences emerged in rap music. Simply put, Gucci was rolling off beans long before it was en vogue. Like most things in modern hip-hop, Guwop did it first.
10. “1st Day Out Tha Feds”
On May 26, 2016, Gucci Mane was released from prison. The next day, in typically candid fashion, he released a single called “First Day Out Tha Feds.” “They called me crazy so much I think I’m starting to believe them, I did some things to some people that was downright evil.” Gucci Mane built a career by releasing a ton of great music in a short amount of time. He can still write, package and release an intimate rap song with only 24 hours notice. That’s a reassuring sign for the rest of his career.
11. “I Get The Bag”
This riff on the Migos/Gucci collab and previous hit “Slippery” from 2017 builds on and refines what this group of Georgian powerhouses have done before. The song’s spacey synth lines and rumbling bass clear a wandering path for Gucci’s polished, effortless groove where he makes a strong case for why he’s still peerless after all these years: “Stop the comparin', y'all makin' me laugh.” The celebratory song gave Gucci his highest Billboard chart position yet, which he then later tied with the 2018 single “Wake Up In The Sky.”
12. “Big Booty”
One enduring quality about Gucci is that he knows his way around a hook -- it’s one of the many reasons he keeps getting the call to prop up other artist’s songs, from Big Boi’s “Shine Blockas” to Rae Sremmurd’s “Black Beatles.” This 2019 J. White Did It produced cut with Megan Thee Stallion is built on a Jimmy Smith sample also referenced in 2 Live Crew’s “Hoochie Mama.” As the warped guitar part locks into a steady funk, Gucci sets the tone with an infectious, playful chorus that bookends a simple but effective verse from Hot Girl Meg. Rather than try to compete with her or go head to head, he just foregrounds his guest’s performance with an infectious earworm that supports her performance.
His next three albums were released by Big Cat Records, under the aegis of Tommy Boy Records, while his subsequent major projects were released by Atlantic Records. His debut album, Trap House was released in 2005, and spawned 5 singles, including his debut single "Icy" (featuring fellow Georgia rapper Young Jeezy).What was Gucci Mane first hit song? ›
His next three albums were released by Big Cat Records, under the aegis of Tommy Boy Records, while his subsequent major projects were released by Atlantic Records. His debut album, Trap House was released in 2005, and spawned 5 singles, including his debut single "Icy" (featuring fellow Georgia rapper Young Jeezy).Is Gucci Mane good in concert? ›
Based on 13 concert reviews, the critic consensus is that Gucci Mane is rated as an average live performer. Gucci Mane concert reviews from critics describe live shows and performances as charismatic, energetic, hype, crowd-pleasing, confident, engaging, and lively.What made Gucci Mane famous? ›
As a founding father of trap music, Mane's been carving out the rap genre since 2001 when he put out his first underground release: Str8 Drop Records Presents Gucci Mane La Flare. Since then, he has amassed a long list of musical achievements: dozens of mixtapes, singles, collaborations and eight studio albums.How many songs have the word Gucci? ›
Few centenarians are as influential as Gucci. Since its creation in 1921, the Italian label has inspired many musicians, including Foxy Brown, Amy Winehouse, and Outkast. As it happens, the name "Gucci" is mentioned in some 22,705 songs! Here's a look back at the makings of this cultural phenomenon.Has Gucci Mane ever went platinum? ›
Gucci Mane Scored The First Platinum Single Of His Career | The FADER.When did Gucci Mane get rich? ›
Gucci Mane built his wealth through his music career. After his college arrest, the artist started taking music seriously. He collaborated with many East-Atlanta artists during his early years before finding success in 2005 with his debut album "Trap House."