This year, we witnessed Gucci Mane reinvent himself in previously-unthinkable ways.
Gucci Mane begins the prologue of his autobiography by recounting the lowest point of his life. On September 13th, 2013, he was days removed from a now-infamous Twitter rampage in which he burned seemingly every imaginable bridge with collaborators, friends, coworkers, and family, aiming nearly-incoherent accusations at everyone from Nicki Minaj to Waka Flocka Flame. In the prologue, he sits in his once-flourishing studio, surveying the arsenal of weaponry around him, keeping one paranoid eye on security cameras and the other on his court-mandated ankle bracelet. "I didn't know when it would happen," he writes, "who it would be, or what would force its occurrence, but one thing I did know: something bad was going to happen and it was going to happen soon."
Just over four years later, things couldn't be more different in the life of Gucci Mane. After serving his time for gun possession charges, he was released from prison in May 2016, and since then has gone through a much-publicized renaissance of sobriety, romantic commitment, and commercial success. While he had just over six months in 2016 to release three full-length projects and two collaborative EPs, get engaged, and guest on an NPR Tiny Desk Concert with Zaytoven, what he's done with the past twelve months has been even more impressive. No one's pretending that Gucci is still the trendiest, most groundbreaking rapper out there, but in terms of personal victories and outright success, nobody's had a better 2017.
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On January 1, 2017, Gucci Mane had a verse on the number one song in the country (Rae Sremmurd's "Black Beatles"). The single stayed atop the chart for seven weeks, remained in the top ten for fourteen consecutive weeks, and has now been certified 5x platinum, making it the most successful song for either artist. Gucci's unprecedented chart dominance didn't end there. As a featured artist, he went on to crack the Top 50 five more times this year, and with the Mr. Davis single "I Get the Bag," he scored his highest-charting track as a lead artist (it topped out at #11). Another top-50-charter for Gucci, the Drake-assisted "Both," also became his second platinum-certified track to date.
Although he didn't match his 2016 level of prolificacy, Gucci still dropped two albums, Drop Top Wop and Mr. Davis, and one EP, the 3 For Free collaboration with his longtime producer Shawty Redd. He could also add another album to that tally by year's end, as the oddly-titled El Gato the Human Glacier appears to be right around the corner.
Gucci sporadically performed concerts around the South in his heyday, but for the first time ever, he actually embarked on a full-blown tour this year, hitting 19 dates including two star-studded appearances at Coachella. Just months after completing those dates, he was named as an opener on The Weeknd's Legend of the Fall tour, which just recently wrapped up. That busy schedule might explain why he's no longer dropping music at his former pace.
Another feather in Gucci's cap has always been his presence as a record label owner and informal A&R in Atlanta. Over the past decade, he's been instrumental in breaking the careers of nearly every new talent coming out of his city, including Waka Flocka, OJ Da Juiceman, 2 Chainz, Young Scooter, Future, PeeWee Longway, Migos, Young Thug, Rich Homie Quan, and even a few from elsewhere in the country like Nicki Minaj, French Montana, Chief Keef, and Young Dolph. Because of contract disputes and Gucci's time in prison, the original 1017 Records all but fizzled out, but this year, GuWop announced a new imprint, 1017 Eskimo. In February, Ralo was named the first signee, and Hoodrich Pablo Juan and Lil Wop soon joined on as well. As those are three of the most exciting up-and-comers in ATL at the moment, it seems like Gucci's building his new label a solid bedrock of talent.
Then there's the nonmusical achievements that would seem completely improbable were we talking about the Gucci Mane of September 13th, 2013. For starters, there's the autobiography, a coherent and well-written tell-all that was named a New York Times bestseller and got written up in The New Yorker. Gucci spent the year being interviewed on ESPN, photographed with his wife for GQ Style, and even chopping it up with acclaimed journalist and author Malcolm Gladwell in a roundtable discussion. He may or may not have a BET reality series on the way. It's hard to believe it, but Gucci's now basically two degrees of separation away from doing an interview on Ellen.
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In his personal life, Gucci also achieved some big things this year. After proposing to longtime girlfriend Keyshia Ka'oir at an Atlanta Hawks game last year, the couple were married on 10/17 this year, celebrating their union with matching Rolls Royce Wraiths. Just a month ago, he renewed his contract with Atlantic Records for $10 million. Back in September, his probation was terminated two years early, making Gucci a totally free man for the first time in years.
Some longtime GuWop fans have lamented the softening of his image, the less volatile music, or his now-successful attempt at infiltrating the mainstream and becoming a pop icon. To be fair, it is a bit weird to see someone who was once the pinnacle of weird, aggressive trap music succeeding on the terms of corporate America. Do we really need a Gucci Mane-branded ice cream truck? Does Gucci Mane really need to collaborate with Steve Aoki? But Gucci Mane's doing Gucci Mane and making crazy money after years of struggling, so you really can't be that mad. The best illustration of 2017 Gucci is that he stooped so low as to guest on a remix of insufferable YouTube star Jake Paul's "It's Everyday Bro," but he charged the absolutely absurd fee of $250,000 for his verse. More power to him.
To Gucci though, all of these accomplishments seem secondary to what he views as his biggest accomplishment. Keeping things in perspective when considering that he used to be on the brink of bankruptcy, isolation, and even death, Gucci tweeted earlier today: