Living Out Our Truths, with Gucci Mane (A Book Review of “The Autobiography of Gucci Mane”)

I remember hearing Wasted for the first time in 2009, at the height of my Lil Wayne obsession (specifically Tha Carter III) and I couldn’t help but mouth off the catchiest line ever:

Rock-star lifestyle, might don’t make it, living life high every day clique wasted

Granted that I wasn’t really living a rock-star lifestyle (I was going to school full-time, working part-time), was only really getting wasted on the weekends–I took this song on as a sort of paean. On the worst days, I could always count on this song to lift me up, its beat thrumming wildly in my chest. Those days are seared in my memory as I navigated a tumultuous relationship, balancing my responsibilities as a student and a health professional, an immigrant still trying to find solid footing.

I remember that time when I picked up The Autobiography of Gucci Mane (Amazon | Shop your local indie bookstore) by Gucci Mane, Neil Martinez-Belkin and read this same line from Wasted, at a time when Gucci himself was at the crossroads of his life in the streets and in the studio. Born Radric Delantic Davis, Gucci was one of the first artists to pioneer trap music way before artists like 2Chainz and Fetty Wap started popularizing it.

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Call it being schooled on the origins of trap music or whatnot, but this book delivers a gritty account of Gucci’s life from when he was little up until his release from prison in 2016. After seeing the rapper pop up on my Instagram timeline recently after his #TheWopsters televised wedding to his wife Keyshia Ka’oir, I found myself asking: what’s up with Gucci? Apart from looking completely different (almost unrecognizable), I wanted to know more about him. My Wasted episodes were a thing of the past, although hip hop is still in constant rotation.

I once heard Ira Glass from This American Life say that it’s hard not to fall in love with someone once you’ve learned their story. With my Pisces sentimentality, that’s a pretty accurate statement. Coupled with Gucci’s tale, it was a done deal. It was like I was a part of his life even at a young age, but always there on the sidelines rooting for him.

As a young boy, he writes that he’s always had an interest with writing poetry, the process of putting words together in creative ways. He even recounted a time when he had to write a Valentine’s Day card to his mom in the first grade. Foregoing the standard “Roses are red, violets are blue” lines, he wrote something different, something that felt more authentic to him.

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This authenticity is a recurring theme in Gucci’s life, as he transitioned from selling in the streets to making music night and day. For one, his work ethic is unbelievable–the man has recorded 72 mixtapes with 12 studio albums! This does not even include singles, EPs or compilation albums. This just puts the saying “You have the same hours as Beyonce” mantra because if we’re talking about the kind of resilience when it comes to making music, Gucci is your god.

Consider the fact too that he was in and out of prison, a circumstance in his life that he always vowed to overcome. I don’t know much about the details of his incarceration, but it seems like he was wrongfully imprisoned a number of times which isn’t surprising. It’s the typical prison industrial complex at play, a uniquely American system that values profit over actual human lives. In spite of his circumstances, he put in work.

5This book was hard to put down and I finished it just after a couple of days. As soon as I put it down, I listened to Wasted once again and downloaded his free mixtapes because even though there’s plenty of Gucci features (most notably with Migos and Future) on the radio, there’s nothing like knowing the context of his music–all those mixtapes–on the raw.

Rock-star lifestyle, might don’t make it, living life high every day clique wasted

Burrrrrr!

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The Autobiography of Gucci Mane (Amazon | Shop your local indie bookstore) by Gucci Mane, Neil Martinez-Belkin
Simon & Schuster (304 pages)
September 19, 2017
My rating: ★★★★
The Autobiography of Gucci Mane

3 thoughts on “Living Out Our Truths, with Gucci Mane (A Book Review of “The Autobiography of Gucci Mane”)

  1. lauratfrey says:

    Great review! I was busy getting married and having babies in 2009, so I totally missed the boat one Gucci’s rise to fame, but I read this book recently and was captivated. It was really will done. I was also struck by how the probation system seems designed to ensure repeat visits to jail.

    Like

    • Pia Cortez says:

      Thank you! I agree with you — it was really well done, and I appreciate how easy it was to read. And you’re right, the system is designed to ensure just that. There were many times when I couldn’t believe what I was reading in reference to his arrests, but I was most amazed at his resilience and strength.

      Like

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