Interview: Gucci Mane

Gucci Mane is not so much a teacher.

June 07, 2013

"I don’t feel nothing he say out his mouth. It ain’t real,” Waka Flocka told MTV in March, after he and longtime collaborator Gucci Mane fought on Twitter. Gucci had recently tweeted that Waka was "disloyal" and had been dropped from the pair's label, 1017 Brick Squad. Following this, an arrest (Gucci is accused of hitting a marine with a champagne bottle) and the release of his Trap House 3 LP, Gucci Mane spoke on the phone to FADER last week with the air of a politician controlling a scandal. Warm after waking up midday, seemingly imperturbable and with an album to promote, he opened up about his future with Waka, his friendship with Marilyn Manson and his mighty stomach.

Do you think that your problems with the law have benefited your career? Has coming in and out of jail made you more successful or appealing? If it did I think that’s kind of unfortunate. I take responsibility for the times I was arrested and the things that I did. Me being 33 now, I look back on those times and I wish that a lot of things I didn’t do. I wish I could have back because I see how much I influence people. People wanna follow in my footsteps and I wish that I can now do more positive things, and that back then I’d done more positive things. I value my core fans I got from the hood. I think a lot of things might hit home with them, like problems with the law or how I talk about partying—all the different topics I cover when I do rap. But I also value my suburban fans who take a liking to my music and like the way I change cadences. I appreciate all of them cause both types of fans push me to record all the time, both push me to give my best when I do a show. Both push me to be the best rapper and not just do it as a hobby, but do it as a job and take it seriously and put pride in it.

You released Trap House 3 right before Memorial Day weekend, saying you wanted people going to Myrtle Beach to have something to listen to. Have you ever been to Black Biker Week in Myrtle Beach? Yes I’ve been to Black Biker Week. I love going down there. It’s crazy with all the bikes and the girls on the back of the bikes. I wanted to go this year. This Memorial Day weekend I went to Miami for a party on Friday at Club Play and I had a good time, but I wish I could have gone to Myrtle Beach and Vegas and Puerto Rico and Miami all at one time. I do release my music right around Memorial day every year. It’s kinda like to catch that wave and dominate early summer.

The upcoming video for “Darker” features a lot of bike-riding. Do you ever ride motorcycles? I’ve got a four-wheeler, a couple bikes, but I’m not a big bike rider. I’m a big bike fan—my homies got Harleys and all kind of choppers—but to be honest I’m scared to ride motorcycles like that. I’ve got Ferraris and Bentleys and Rolls Royces and all that and I don’t even drive them fast. I’m just a careful person around wheels and stuff like that. I try to be as cautious as I can, cause I lost friends to motorcycle accidents and car accidents. So I don’t ever play around anything like that.

Are you generally a cautious person? I take precaution by employing somebody to be with me who can deter any kind of trouble that I might get into when I’m performing or out promoting my music. When I might be on a business trip, a lot of people are partying and they may be drunk or under the influence of something that I’m not under the influence of, and that might influence their actions. I’m not even blaming them, but being in the club and not knowing what everybody’s motives are, I have to take precautions damn near every week, especially when I go out of town.

Waka said he couldn’t be kicked out of Brick Squad because he owns a portion of 1017 Brick Squad and all of Brick Squad Monopoly. What’s the difference between 1017 Brick Squad and Brick Squad Monopoly? 1017 Brick Squad records was a label I made when I ended my partnership with So Icey Entertainment. I signed Waka to that label and I signed myself to the label. OJ Da Juiceman actually came up with the name Brick Squad. We were like a group Brick Squad: me, Wooh da Kid, Frenchie, Juice and Waka. We were gonna drop a group album. Then I decided to just focus on me and Waka. While I focused on me and Waka, we dropped Ferrari Boyz. Then after we dropped the Flockaveli album, Waka decided he wanted to have his own label and put out some of his own artist,s cause he’s got a lot of people that he collaborate with and a lot of artists that love to work with him. That’s where the BSM came in, that’s his imprint that he’s starting off and trying to get going. But both me and Waka are signed to 1017 Brick Squad records, with a partnership with Atlantic right now.

What role does Atlantic play in the creation and promotion of your tapes? I’m basically an independent label with 1017 Brick Squad. I handle all my day to day business. The entire Trap House 3 album—I paid for every beat on that CD. I paid for every mix session, every mastering session. All the promotion, all the videos, any kind of promotional visual or any servicing of records it was funded by me and my company independently.

You’ve said you’d like to work things out with Waka, and that you’ll release a Brick Squad album this summer. Will Waka appear on that album? He’ll definitely be on the album, just because we’ve recorded so much material to date that we were planning to put on the Brick Squad album anyway. So no matter if we work things out or not, whether he drops his next album on 1017 Brick Squad or Brick Squad Monopoly or however the situation works out, he definitely will be on the Brick Squad album. Those songs are already recorded. And we’re gonna push forward and try to let him drop the next three albums that he’s contracted to drop on my label. Cause at the end of the day it’s still business. I pride myself on being a great businessman and I think he’ll honor what he committed to and we’ll push forward.

Do you think you and Waka will be friends in the future? I hope so. This isn’t the first time that me and Waka been at odds with each other. We always work it out. This is like the sixth or seventh time. I don’t see no difference between this and the last one.

You posted a photo of Marilyn Manson wearing a Free Gucci T-Shirt. Are you two friends? That’s my boy man. We got the dopest record in the world, me and Marilyn. Me and him got one of the craziest records ever made. We made it whatever day Spring Breakers came out in Cali. He came to the sneak premiere, and after we did the red carpet and watched the movie, me and him went to the studio and made us a record. That’s the day that we met and began being friends. He’s cool as hell, I fuck with him hard. He ain’t the averagest white boy. He got swag. Me and him together, he don’t get on my nerves. I can stomach being around him. He cool.

Why do you think people wrote that you and Selena Gomez were dating? I don’t know why they made such a crazy cruel rumor. Cause I think she was dating Justin Bieber at the time. Really I don’t have no idea what was going on with Selena Gomez cause I only know her briefly from doing the Spring Breakers movie, and from what I know of her she’s a nice young lady. I don’t know her personally, I never dated her. I wish her the best, she’s a talented actor and a nice girl, but she and I never dated.

Do you always record at the same studio, or do you set up anywhere that’s convenient? I record all my music in my own studio. It’s called the Brick Factory and I modeled it after the Hit Factory studio in Miami. It’s a three-building studio right in my neighborhood. I feel like it’s like Fort Knox in the hood. It’s a nice piece of property, it’s well-secured and gated and well-kept. It’s where I get the best vibe, recording on my time with my engineers, with all my employees there. It’s like a big complex where everybody’s working on the same thing. There’s five studios there, so [Young] Thug can be doing something, Peewee [Longway] can be doing something and at the same time I can be recording something. Scooter might be here. We got enough space to all collaborate and at the same time have our own privacy.

Are you king of the studio? Definitely not. It’s like a team. We really push each other. Everybody keeps everything in order, everybody keeps things clean and organized. It’s like an army. If Thug’s gonna be recording with C-Note, then I’m gonna be with Zay. There’s always key producers here working on beats. Not even per se working on beats for me, just making beats period. We got an open environment to come and create.

Do you consider yourself a teacher as well as a rapper? Not so much a rap teacher. I feel like I’m a trendsetter. I try to always stay on the edge of everything I do, whether it be music, fashion, film. I just like to stay abreast of what’s going on. What’s going on in the street and what’s going on in the hood I put in my music and I feel like a lot of people follow that.

Why do you surround yourself with collaborators? To be honest, I am inspired by these guys I keep around there. When I came in the game a lot of people helped me, and at the same time a lot of people shut doors in my face. So even though people have burned me that I tried to help along the way, I try not to let that deter me in helping other people. So I always extended my hand to artists that make a positive change and do rap opposed to selling drugs or doing anything else.

Do you try to be a guide for the younger guys, like Young Thug and Chief Keef, that you work with? I don’t give them advice on what to do in the studio. If i do give them any advice, it’s to learn from the mistakes I made and try to encourage them to be positive and to thank god for the blessing they got with the outlet of rapping and being able to make money doing something legal and positive. I tell them to embrace that and appreciate it.

What appealed to you about working with Young Thug? Thug is one of the most talented rappers I ever met. I chased down that boy down and told him like, You’re one of the most talented people I’ve ever worked. He’s got a distinctive way of how he changes his voice up. You can hear a verse and then the chorus and you’ll think it’s two different artists, but it'll be Thug on the same song. He’ll feature on somebody else’s song and do a hook, and it’ll sound like he’s a Jamaican. He’ll do another song and he'll flip the whole style again and go fast. I like the way he records and the way he approaches his verses. He works hard and he’s different.

We we supposed to speak earlier today, but you were asleep. What time do you usually wake up? I usually record all through the night, but I’m known for waking up early in the morning. Even if I had recorded till 3 or 4 in the morning I might wake up at 9 or 10. I never sleep till 1 o clock. But last night I had a long night, so sleep kind of carried me on till the afternoon.

Who’s idea was it to make Trap House 3 a for-pay release? Just like one of my mixtapes, like Trap God or Trap God 2, Trap House 3 was 100 percent done by me. But instead of putting it on Livemixtapes or on any other site for free, I put it on iTunes for sale. This was my first time trying that, cause I make a lot of money on iTunes putting out my mixtapes that I already had put out for free with a DJ on them. All I do is take the DJ off and put them out on iTunes and they sell like crazy, so I said, Let me try dropping a digital mixtape without releasing it for free on a site and having a DJ on it. And it worked out good for me at the end.

When the tape didn’t go on iTunes on the day it was supposed to, it went up for sale on a site called Bandcamp. Had you heard of that site before? I didn’t know about Bandcamp before. But as soon as iTunes had technical problems and they couldn't upload the files or whatever, Google started selling it, Bandcamp started selling it, a lot of sites started selling it. And I appreciate all of them, cause they kept it going. The couple days Trap House 3 wasn’t on iTunes, that became kind of an enigma in itself. Everybody was trying to find it, like, “Did you hear it?” “Listen on this site, you can get it streaming.”

Do you tweet your own tweets? Most of the time. I’m heavily involved with my Twitter page. A lot of things come out that are just promotional, but if it seems like I said it, it’s more than likely I put it on there.

Did you tweet at Amanda Bynes? Hell naw! Somebody done hacked my damn Twitter like three or four times. I don’t got no opinion on Amanda Bynes cause I don’t know her and never had heard of her. I don’t know what she did or what she didn’t do, but I didn’t tweet her. They say my Twitter was hacked. Somebody has tweeted Mac Miller off my Twitter, Soulja Boy, and even Miley Cyrus. They just have hacked into my Twitter, they do it a lot of time, ain’t nothing I can do. I changed my password and they just go hard and get in it. They always just tweet celebrities on some groupie stuff. It’s unfortunate.

What do you plan when you’re trying to have a special night with a woman you’re seeing? When I’m trying to have a special night with a special woman, I try to cater to what she likes or whatever I’ve learned from talking to her and asking her—what she likes to eat or where she likes to go and what kind of music she likes. I just try and cater to that. My fun is making her have fun.

After a brief campaign, you decided not to change your professional name to Guwop. Why didn’t you want to be called Gucci Mane anymore? Originally I decided I was gonna call myself cause Gucci Mane cause that was my father’s name. His nickname was Gucci Mane. That’s what my grandmother called my father. People would call me Gucci Mane every now and then, but honestly, that was his name. But when I wanted to be professionally known as a rapper I said I wanna take the moniker Gucci Mane. But all the people in my hood, not even my closest friends but everybody in Atlanta, calls me Guwop. I didn’t start it. I can’t put my finger on how it spread. I know it started from my boys but then everybody who I collaborate picked up on it and they’d say it to me. Even girls in my life and my relatives started saying it. People close to me and people really in the know would say Guwop, so I thought it might be a good idea to push it, since everybody loves to say it so much.

Does your belly make you look rich? I think it makes me look rich, but at the same time I’m trying to start exercising and take better care of myself cause it’s definitely a sign of bad health as well. I need to do better with my health for me and my family, and be around for me and my son.

1. Screenshot of Gucci Mane f. Chill Will, "2 Dope Boyz" video
2. Gucci Mane, "Point in My Life" Trap God 3
3. Gucci Mane as “The Waterfall”, 2013, Christopher T. Mitchell

Interview: Gucci Mane