photo & text by nacrowe
a few years back, right after my return stateside after teaching abroad for almost a decade, i found myself interviewing a rapper from the BRONX that my cousin was producing and recording. i was gathering information for a future press release. one of the questions i had for him were his lyrical influences and what he drew from them. right away he said GUCCI MANE and THREE 6 MAFIA since they both kept it absolutely authentic and only rapped about their communities (ATLANTA and MEMPHIS, respectively) and their struggle in the drug game and music industry.
given this cosign, i was excited to read the recent memoir THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF GUCCI MANE (SIMON & SCHUSTER, 2017) hoping to get some insight into how this GUCCI MANE perceives his relationship to his community and artistic legacy. it was a little disappointing that for such an electric, effervescent personality, his memoir largely doesn't deliver on its promise, instead resorting to a paint-by-numbers literal walkthrough of his childhood, court dates and petty beefs with other rappers (YOUNG JEEZY) and various empty purchases. to an extent i understand and expect that memoirs are partly an exercise in self mythology except for that rare occurrence when an artist really feels the need for a MEA CULPA or to set the record straight on some aspect of their career/persona that has been misinterpreted by the public. neither seems to be the case here as again, the book focuses on the timeline of his life from the poor backwoods of rural ALABAMA to his move to ATLANTA as a young adolescent and his introduction to both HIP HOP and selling dope, which led to his rise to fame and battle with the authorities, rival gangs and rappers, drug addiction, mental illness, etc.
again, things here just seem to happen to him. its a pretty somnambulistic way of perceiving your existence, but its his book not mine. seemed a shame because his lyricism is incredibly inventive and humorous at that. as my friend from the BRONX properly surmised, he also has a distinct voice and persona that exudes authenticity. which is again why this book was a bit of a disappointment.
i wasn't looking for details into the inner-workings of the drug game or readouts of his numerous court appearances. most of that i can find elsewhere. i was looking to learn more about what makes the guy tick.
if you are a fan of GUCCI MANE and SOUTHERN HIP HOP than this might interest you, otherwise i'd steer clear and maybe consider other recent autobiographies by the likes of DARRYL "DMC" MCDANIELS of RUN-DMC (review linked HERE) or SCARFACE or THE GETO BOYS (review linked HERE).