We chop it up with Gucci Mane's go-to man while he's behind bars, Sean Paine.
Gucci Mane is a man of many mysteries. There's the general mystery that surrounds his life, his upbringing. There's the mystery that surrounds his constant string of releases, despite his constant prison stints. Who truly knows what's going on inside GuWop's head at any given moment, anyways? Although his lyrics paint a picture, and can be deceivingly funny, he's not as transparent as say, a rapper like Drake. It's possible we'll soon be granted a close look inside the many mysteries of Gucci Mane, by way of an auto-biography the rapper is reportedly working on. This book should even enlighten some of Gucci's closest affiliates, who are also left in the dark about Gucci's life.
Sean Paine can unwind a mystery or two about Gucci, but, as he says during our recent interview, there are many untold stories when it comes to Gucci, many that he isn't privy too, but will (hopefully) show up in said book. Nonetheless, Sean Paine is still key in unlocking how the machine that is Gucci functions-- from releasing new collaborations via prison to promoting Gucci's upcoming movie "The Spot," Paine is behind it at all. He's Gucci's executive assistant, his right-hand man, and his middle man as well while Gucci's locked up. Beyond just being a middle man, Sean Paine is also a producer, an engineer and a rapper-- he's mixed and mastered a total of 25 albums for Gucci Mane, as well as his affiliates (he did Chief Keef's Sorry 4 The Weight, as well as records like PeeWee Longway's "Sneaking & Geeking" and Young Thug's "2 Cups Stuffed"-- it's safe to say, he's in the know when it comes to Atlanta rappers, and he's worked with basically all of them).
We hopped on the phone with Sean recently to find out how he coordinates with Gucci while the rapper's incarcerated and more details on their relationship.
Sean Paine: Hi, can I help you?
HotNewHipHop: Hey, this is Rose from HotNewHipHop. Is this Sean?
Sean: Oh yeah, this Sean how you doing?
HNHH: I’m good how’re you? You ready for this interview?
Sean: Yeah I’m ready.
HNHH: Okay, so I want to know who you are. That’s the first place to start, 'cause I mean people know someone’s running everything that Gucci Mane’s doing behind bars, but who is it?
Sean: Well, I’m Sean Paine. I’m a personal assistant…
HNHH: How did you first connect with Gucci, how did this happen that you ended up being his man while behind bars?
Sean: Well, I mean from working at Patchwerk [studios] with Gucci. Basically, I went from interning at Patchwerk studios in Atlanta through Kori Anders, who was mixing and recording Gucci for the beginning of his career all the way up to Trap God.
HNHH: How long ago was that?
Sean: I wanna say 2011 maybe. That’s when I came from Full Sail University, I went from Full Sail to Patchwerk, and then at Patchwerk I went from interning to doing assistant engineering under Kori. So how I started was interning, and I got familiar with Gucci through that. My very first session was with Waka [Flocka], his engineer had pulled me in, that’s how I got taken off the intern list to assistant engineer of sessions, so my first paid session was with Waka Flocka.
HNHH: So in terms of your career path you were initially trying to be an engineer?
Sean: I mean I was tryna rap, producing and rapping, like Kanye, I do all that. So that was my way in the door, through engineering, I guess.
HNHH: Are you still rapping right now?
Sean: Yeah I still rap, I got a CD out right now with Lil B the Based God, Riff Raff, Bankroll Fresh, Icewear Vezzo…
HNHH: Okay cool. So you ended up becoming closer to Gucci Mane by becoming the assistant engineer at Patchwerk?
Sean: Yeah I was assistant engineer, then I became tracking engineer for him there. So I started recording more, cause at first I was sitting in, assisting, interning. Then I started tracking, actually operating the SSL boards, recording all his vocals.
HNHH: What’s your day-to-day like now that he’s behind bars, do you consider you work for him full time, or is it kinda freelance?
Sean: I’m a freelance engineer, currently in California or Miami and I go back and forth from there to Altanta. I’m between the three cities. Basically me and Gucci talk almost every day via CoorLinks.
HNHH: Via what?
Sean: Via CoorLinks, it’s a way to talk to prisoners in jail.
HNHH: So that’s how he can tell people what he wants to tweet and stuff?
Sean: Yeah, that’s how he communicates, through CoorLinks.
HNHH: Ahh ok, is he allowed to use the phone and stuff or he just does CoorLinks?
Sean: Yeah he calls, like once a month, just to check in and see how I’m doing or whatever. We talk besides music, and then when it’s something important he might call and record a verse, I might record a verse for him.
HNHH: Okay yeah, so some of his new collaborations, the recent ones, some of them are recorded through prison and some [are] old?
Sean: Yeah some of them are recorded through jail, he calls on my phone and I’m recording it.
HNHH: Is the quality there? Can you tell that it wasn’t recorded right in the studio?
Sean: Nah, I mean I kinda engineer it so you can’t tell that it’s recorded in jail.
HNHH: That also adds some mystery and confusion, like how is he hopping on this brand new song with a verse that sounds recent.
Sean: Yeah, Gucci calling in from jail doing that.
HNHH: Apart from just like, dropping songs, does he have a method in terms of what he wants to release while he’s locked up?
Sean: He’ll be out shortly, so the method was, let’s get everything on the hard drive and piece it together the right way, and market it the right way, and do it in segments. He’ll call me and he’ll tell me his thoughts, so like every month he’ll give me an agenda like, ‘SP, we need to drop two CDs this month, so go in the stash and see what we got, and if it’s any verses I need to do, hit me up and I’ll hit you and record ‘em.’
HNHH: So you kinda go through all the music he has in the stash and you figure out what’s good, what you wanna drop.
Sean: Right, and then I’ll go about on my own, cause we can’t communicate all day long, so he’ll tell me what to do, like drop this, this and that. Then I’ll be like okay, since I’m socially active and I see what’s going on, I reach out to these artists. He tells me to reach out to a lot of the artists he’s dealt with, but a lot of the new ones, that’s me knowing like okay this artist is hot, this artist is bubbling. Looking at fans’ comments, like you know, they was always saying Riff Raff and Gucci should do something so I bridged that gap. So when he gets out, shit he’s got more features than anyone else.
I’m also tryna touch him in the underground markets and reach out to artists in the underground scene too and get them on board. Even the new artists that pop up, like Fetty Wap hot, Gucci Mane’s on the #1 record. Gucci called me and was like, ‘I wanna get on “Trap Queen.”’
HNHH: He knows what’s up.
Sean: Yeah I mean, he can hear some of the music. I believe they can hear some of the stuff in there if it’s through a major distribution company, major release, I think they can get those in there.
HNHH: And you were saying he’s going to be out soon?
Sean: I believe he’ll be out soon…Sooner than later. I know his movie will be out very soon, 10/17.
HNHH: How long ago was this [movie] filmed or planned? Cause Gucci’s starring in it, right.
Sean: Yeah he’s definitely starring in it, he’s directing it.
HNHH: When exactly did this all come together, how long ago?
Sean: I mean he just hit me up through CoorLinks, 'I’m bout to drop this movie on my National Gucci Day, it’s my 10-year anniversary, I wanna give the fans something to appreciate.' He had it done right before he went in, he had it all done.
HNHH: The book too, was that something he had planned before he went to jail?
Sean: Nah, that was while he was in jail, we was just brainstorming. I was like, 'Wop, you could write a book, cuh.' Cause everyone got something to say about Gucci but don’t nobody really know Gucci. I don’t even really know who Gucci is, like through middle school, through high school. I was like, 'Wop you should really write a book.' Cause he a legend, I put him up there with Biggie and Pac and everybody. Gucci’s impact on hip-hop is huge. I’m riding around in Florida, people still listening to the old school shit, still.
HNHH: For the book, is he gunna have a co-author, someone he wants to write it with him?
Sean: I think he’s in cahoots with Neil [Martinez], I think he used to be with XXL. But Neil is helping him with the book, him and Neil would talk before he got transferred over. Him and Neil would have long conversations, Gucci just told Neil whatever. Me, I don’t even know what Gucci told him, off-press. This is secrets, the auto-biography on the real, on Gucci, his life. I think it actually might be a top-seller, to me.
HNHH: I think if it’s done right it could be really amazing.
Sean: But he’s doing a movie to the book too, I think that’s what gunna be big.
HNHH: Oh okay, so he’ll do a biopic after the book drops?
Sean: Right. But for now, 10/17 “The Spot” movie is dropping…He created a LinkedIn account.
HNHH: Yeah, was that Gucci Mane, from prison, was like I wanna do that?
Sean: Yeah that’s him. Me and him collab to come up with ideas, but he definitely says go with it or don’t go with it. He definitely comes forth with ideas and asks my take on it. Don’t get it twisted, Gucci is running his shit.
HNHH: Yeah, it’s just kinda interesting to find out how it works with him being in jail but still releasing so much content.
Sean: Yeah. With the movie we gotta get creative, this is his very first movie. We getting drops and all these entertainers and athletes…
HNHH: To help promote it since he’s not out to promote himself.
Sean: Yeah. That’s the way we’re promoting it now. The movie also has a soundtrack to it too, and that’s what I’ve been working on.
HNHH: Word yeah, the song we premiered was off it ["No Problems"].
Sean: Yeah that’s the one with Rich Homie and PeeWee
HNHH: Yeah it was really dope.
Sean: But it’s definitely way more songs. C Note is helping to produce a lot of it, London on Da Track is helping produce some of it, C4 Bombs is producing a track on there. But for the most part, it’s Honorable C Note.
HNHH: How’s the movie releasing? Is it releasing online?
Sean: It’s gonna be on iTunes and every other digital retailers.
HNHH: Once Gucci’s outta jail, what’s your plan?
Sean: He says as soon as he gets out he gon’ hype me up, he wants me to be on the executive shit. Of course we gon’ hit the road, he’s going on that tour, that’s gunna be crazy. Everything will be back rolling—it’s still rolling now though, while he’s locked up.
HNHH: How many people are on his team helping him do things while he’s in jail?
Sean: He got lawyers of course and all of that stuff, but it’s SP. Of course, Keyshia holding him down, but for the most part I’m the middle man, that’s why we on the phone. I’m doing a lot though, it’s just me and GuWop.
HNHH: Do you find you have less time to focus on your own career cause youre focusing on the stuff for Gucci?
Sean: I mean I ain’t even gunna lie, I didn’t really care to be a rapper like that, I just would be rapping and shit when I be bored. And then, hey, I was reaching out to these artists, and I said damn these some big names and they got on my shit for me. So I’m an engineer-turned-rapper, after this interview, fuck it! [Laughs]