On The Autobiography of Gucci Mane
The first book on my 2019 reading list was The Autobiography of Gucci Mane. I got it as a Christmas gift but have been wanting to read it since it was published over a year ago. I didn’t grow up listening to his music, so my first real introduction to Gucci was through his fans who first advocated for his release and then rejoiced when it became a reality in 2016. I really had to pull a good-old-fashioned search to learn more about the “Godfather of Trap” and his music, most importantly, for myself. Reading the book was the most obvious and convenient second step to knowing more about his life; especially because I had heard such great things about it. I say all that to say I was pretty excited to get my hands on a copy.
Gucci Mane, born Radric Delantic Davis, wrote the book with Neil Martinez-Belkin, a former music editor at XXL. It covers his childhood in Alabama, his various run-ins with the law, and the one thing that kept him going - music. The amount of things that he dealt with in his life - family issues, drugs, addiction, a murder charge - demonstrates what he had to overcome. (A murder charge !!!) And all the while trying to navigate the music industry. Gucci’s story feels familiar in that it could have been the same as any black young person in this country. He’s experienced some loss in his life and it’s a blessing he was able to survive to tell this story while a lot of his friends and counterparts can’t say the same.
The biggest thing for me was how his story is written. It reads like a one-on-one conversation with Gucci - curses and all. I’m glad that he didn’t sacrifice his personality for the sake of respectability and/or mainstream success (The book is a New York Times bestseller regardless). The most interesting thing I learned was that Gucci Mane was originally the nickname of his father. The original Gucci Mane also provides my favorite quote from the book:
Most niggas cross the street, I cross the country. If I get enough cheese I will cross the continent. From Maine to Spain, I can play that thang, because I’m the original Gucci Mane.
Speaking as a veteran of the game, I think a lot of the younger ones coming up should pick up this book or talk to him about his experience. While a lot of the music coming out now normalizes drugs and addiction, those were things he himself had to fight to overcome. It is refreshing to see him talking so candidly about the way that the streets and drugs impacted his life.
Whenever music wasn’t going right I would fall back into the streets. Maybe it was a coping mechanism. Going back to something I knew I’d find success in when I wasn’t experiencing it elsewhere. Whatever it was, it was a habit that went on for much longer than you’d think.
This aspect is critical to the overall narrative especially because there are a lot of rappers who come from the same background and struggle with being as reliant on the same lifestyle. Overall, the book is very telling about the life and mind of one of the most influential rappers to come out of Atlanta. It can be said that Gucci had a lot to do with the music that came out of that city after him. Although I feel that there is something missing from the story, it’s a good read and I would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in him or autobiographies in general.