Neil Martinez-Belkin talks working with La Flare
Gucci Mane is riding an unprecedented wave of success in his music career right now. With his Droptopwop album signaling that his strongest days as a rapper were still in front of him and another full-length release, Mr. Davis, on the way in October, there has been more than enough banger material for fans to sink their teeth into. Couple that with his upcoming marriage to Keyshia Ka'oir - an event that is being turned into a reality TV mega-event on the BET network - and you've got a man who is enjoying quite the year so far. However, if you thought he might take his foot off of the gas pedal, think again. The Guwop is now the subject of a new autobiography from Simon & Schushter, co-written with Neil Martinez-Belkin, a former editor over at XXL magazine. Now, the hip-hop writer is speaking about the process of working with the Trap God and, in short, it was incredibly memorable on every level.
In a conversation with The Outline, Martinez-Belkin described meeting Gucci Mane for the first time as a moment that carried its own special energy.
"The label had arranged [the dinner]. They wanted to kind of get in the good graces with rap media again, with the publications again [...] It was me, the Editor-in-Chief of XXL, Vanessa Satten, Gucci, and Young Scooter, another rapper. And then at the other table was like some of the label people from Warner Brothers. The idea was basically, 'how do we get Gucci another cover on XXL.' And that’s certainly their job. It's not like they were out of line to do that. [But] Gucci was like, 'listen stop talking about that. I'm here to tell you you need to be paying attention to Scooter. He's next.' And I remember just being impressed like, this guy gets it. He gets that the time right now is not for a Gucci XXL cover. But he's making something out of this."
Martinez-Belkin said that be came on board the rapper's autobiography project after he gained the artist's attention again by writing a piece about Gucci's prolific release schedule while he was still in prison. After an initial Twitter tease that he was going to be writing a book about his life, the hip-hop writer connected with one of its most recognizable characters over the phone. "You wanna help me with this thing, big dog?" Gucci asked. Of course, we all know what the answer was.
On one occasion, Martinez-Belkin visited Guwop while he was locked up. The experience, as you might expect, was surreal.
"For me going to a correctional facility is not a totally foreign experience. My degree is in criminology. I studied crime theory [...] So it was not surreal in that I was shaken by the experience of visiting a prison. The part that was surreal for me about that visit was it's weird to see a person who you know, and the world knows, to be such a powerful person in a powerless position. And honestly that shook me."