Zaytoven has been with Gucci Mane since pretty much the beginning, producing the rapper's breakthrough record "Icy" with Young Jeezy, and going on to do 5 songs on his debut album. From there he showed up on just about every project GuWop released (and there are a lot), helping to define Wop's marble-mouthed delivery with his own carnival-like organ bounce. From there, he went on to work with plenty of artists from the region, most recently taking his Church-schooled chops to projects from Migos and Future.
The GuWop Effect: A History Of Gucci Mane's Co-Signs
OJ Da Juiceman
One of the few rappers who earned a Gucci co-sign, but never moved on to bigger things. By GuWop's explanation, Juice lost interest in music when he found he was making more money in the streets. While once Gucci's squealy right-hand man, OJ was unfortunately pushed to the side when Waka proved himself a hitmaker, with Deb Antney admitting that she didn't give Juice enough of her time, as she found herself consumed with GuWop's legal issues.
Nevertheless, there's no denying that OJ made his imprint in Atlanta through Gucci, his breakthrough record, "Make The Trap Say Aye", assisted by the 1017 rapper.
While Waka may seem one of the most obvious artists put on by a Gucci Mane co-sign, he'd tell you otherwise, and he wouldn't be wrong. Introduced to GuWop through his mother, and founder of Mizay Entertainment, Deb Antney, Waka spent a lot of time learning from Gucci, but it was actually the desperation his family faced when Wop was in jail that got him in the studio.
The money trouble that resulted from Gucci's absence forced Waka into his first hit, "O Let's Do It", and by the time Gucci was released, it actually helped him jump right back into regional stardom. From this point on, the rappers helped one another in equal measure, becoming one of rap's most beloved tag teams -- they needed each other -- and for this reason we include Flocka on the list.
Before signing with Young Money, Nicki Minaj packed her bags and moved to Atlanta in search of fame. It was there that she worked with Mizay's Deb Antney, who helped her sculpt her breakthrough mixtape, Beam Me Up Scotty, and pair her with the region's hottest tastemaker, Gucci Mane. Wayne's feature on the tape may have been a bigger endorsement, but Gucci got Minaj spinning in Atlanta, which is a proven foundation for a successful rap career.
French Montana is another New York transplant who made his way both through Mizay Entertainment and placement on plenty of Gucci Mane records. For many that missed his work with Max B, French was introduced through his work with Atlanta artists. Much like Nicki, French later made his way back to New York, and has not worked with Gucci since, but in some way he does owe GuWop for getting his name out there in Atlanta and beyond.
While 2 Chainz has been in the game for a decade (under the regrettable pseudonym, Tity Boi for much of it), he's cited his name change as something of a second chance in the industry. Gucci Mane was an artist who gave the rapper some shine under both names, with Chainz showing up on mixtapes from 2009's Writings On The Wall through 2012's Trap Back and beyond. Rebranding himself as a street rapper may not have been quite as successful without Gucci's approval. Plus, without Wop, Tity never would've rapped over Tetris.
Mike WiLL Made It
Not only did Gucci Mane get Mike WiLL's name out there, he came up with it. Wop completed the producers pseudonym (which was just Mike WiLL at the time), when he rapped "Mike WiLL Made It, Gucci Mane slayed it" on "Star Status". The two linked up for a whole project called No Pad, No Pencil way back in 2007, which got the producer an in with Future, and eventually his first album single, Meek Mill's "Tupac Back".
WiLL spoke to FADER about his early work with Gucci:
"We knocked out twenty joints in three days, which lead to No Pad, No Pencil. I'd tell everybody in high school that me and Gucci [were working together] and they were just like, Yeah, yeah alright. They kinda played it off. That was in '07, the year I graduated. That summer all those joints came out and he was saying my name in his verse and shit like that. Then people were like, Yo!"
Young Thug's I Came From Nothing 2 (which contains some of his best work to date) earned the rapper a modest fanbase, and some attention from tastemakers, one of which being Gucci Mane. Teaming with GuWop (in what would prove to be a complicated label situation), Thugger was able to take his career to the next level, releasing 1017 Thug, which carried his name nationwide, and set him up for the success of his singles, "Stoner" and "Danny Glover".
Since Gucci's incarceration, we've seen two sequels to 1017 Thug, and a pair of Gucci and Thug joint releases, each distributed through GuWop and made up of leftovers from Thug's Brick Factory sessions.
Rich Homie Quan
While Rich Homie Quan's first true breakout moment was certainly "Type Of Way", if you were in tune with Gucci Mane's output, the first time you may have heard Quan was on the rapper's 2013 opus, Trap House 3. Quan's throaty hooks appeared on three of the album's tracks, proving Gucci heard something in RHQ long before most of us knew his name. Along with Young Thug, the rapper who never forgets to go in has now aligned himself with yet another iconic A&R since Gucci's incarceration, Cash Money's Birdman.
Young Scooter, Peewee Longway & Young Dolph
Groomed as the new wave of Brick Squad, Young Scooter, Peewee Longway, and Young Dolph, (along with Young Thug), were Gucci's picks for Atlanta's (and in Dolph's case Memphis') next big things. Talk of a Brick Squad album was tossed around shortly before Gucci was arrested, and unfortunately the team he was building never got their proper introduction. While now operating in their own lanes, the rappers are keeping Gucci's dream alive, each putting their own inventively catchy take on street rap.
One of the newer producers to get the Gucci nod, Metro Boomin got his start working with OJ The Juiceman, eventually catching GuWop's ear. Metro spent some time in the Gucci's Brick Factory studio, where he eventually linked up with Young Thug, a rapper he's since worked with extensively and will be releasing a collaborative album with (Metro Thuggin) later this year.
He spoke about Gucci's work as an A&R with NOISEY.
"Man, there’d be times when I’d come see Gucci everyday. Gucci’s definitely a mentor figure, he’s the big homie to everybody. In Atlanta, he’ll get anyone to shine, if he sees your potential. Gucci's the kinda nigga where I could bring my homeboy through, like, “Yo this nigga’s dope,” and if he thinks they’re hard, he’ll give them a deal. Gucci really would try to make other niggas bosses. A lot of artists in Atlanta, they’re not on that. But Gucci definitely has one of the best ears in the industry."
"Bando" caught Gucci Mane's ear early on, and it wasn't long before he called up Migos and got them in for a session. While no official paper work was ever done, it seemed GuWop helped the trio in a similar way he did his own Brick Squad artists. The rapper wound up on one of YRN's giddy highlights, "Dennis Rodman", and a few months after his incarceration, he pulled the trigger on the Brick Factory sessions he was holding on to, releasing them as The Green Album.
There's no denying that Chief Keef made it on his own, but when he started to lose footing after Finally Rich, Gucci swooped in to support his output. Unfortunately, GuWop was arrested shortly thereafter, and we never got to see the partnership fully play out. Perhaps with Gucci's proven ear, Keef may not have veered so far left that he lost his deal with Interscope, or otherwise he could have helped Sosa with his independent hustle thereafter.
Again, most of what we heard from the two ended up being some unearthed studio sessions released while Gucci was behind bars. Much like Waka and Gucci earlier in the career, if fully fleshed out, this collaborative partnership may have been something special.
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A look at the many rappers and producers Gucci Mane has supported over the years.
Gucci Mane has been sculpting talent, and promoting new artists since the beginning his career, but it's only over the last couple of years that he's been recognized as a great A&R. Part of that is because following his most recent incarceration in September 2013, we saw many of the young artists he was working with at the time earn Atlanta the title of rap's most exciting city once again.
From Young Thug and Migos, to producers like Mike WiLL Made It, Zaytoven, and Metro Boomin, Gucci has not only seen the star quality early in artists, he's helped them to become the best at what they do through his strong work ethic and undeniable ear.
Today, we're taking a look through some of Gucci's biggest co-signs, many you're probably already aware of, but others may surprise you. Click through the gallery and get in tune with the GuWop Effect.