The Redemption of Gucci Mane

Rapper Gucci Mane performs onstage as an opening act for The Weeknd at the Capitol One Arena on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017, in Washington. (Photo by Brent N. Clarke/Invision/AP)

The Autobiography of Gucci Mane is the story of Radric Delantic Davis, also known as Gucci Mane. The 37-year-old rapper started writing his memoir in 2014 while in prison, where he was serving a two-year sentence for possession of a firearm. At its core, the book is Mane’s redemption story. “Things had to be different this time,” Mane writes about the start of his final prison term. “If I really wanted to start fresh, I was going to have to find closure with everything that landed me here. Maybe I could do that in twenty-four months.”

The Autobiography of Gucci Maneby Gucci Mane and Neil Martinez-Belkin

Simon & Schuster. 304p $27

In 270 pages, the rapper, along with co-author Neil Martinez-Belkin, takes readers on a page-turning ride. Born in Bessemer, Ala., Mane was introduced to hip-hop by his older brother Duke. Together, they saw artists like Run-DMC, LL Cool J and the Beastie Boys in concert. “We’d focus on the lyrics, committing them to memory,” he writes. “Then we’d start rapping to each other, alternating verses.”

The rapper’s father, Ralph Everett Dudley, also heavily influenced Mane. Growing up, Mane watched as his father hustled people for money, and, along with taking his father’s moniker “Gucci Mane,” the rapper would emulate his father’s skills in his own life. “I learned a lot being around my father,” he writes, adding that Dudley taught him “how to size people up, how to read body language, and how to use that information for my benefit.”

Together, Zaytoven and Mane gave birth to the rap subgenre of “trap music,” described by Mane as “music that sounds as grimy as the world that it came out of.”

In the seventh grade, Mane began selling drugs, and in 2001, he was first arrested in Atlanta. As part of Georgia’s First Offenders Act, however, the 21-year-old accepted a plea deal and was placed on probation. This arrest inspired Mane’s decision to pursue a music career. He began working with Xavier Lamar Dotson, also known as Zaytoven, a Grammy Award-winning DJ and producer. Together, Zaytoven and Mane gave birth to the rap subgenre of “trap music,” described by Mane as “music that sounds as grimy as the world that it came out of.”

For the next 13 years, Mane would be in and out of jails and prisons. One of the worst stints was the time he spent at Fulton County Jail in 2005 for an aggravated assault charge. The rapper spent almost three months in solitary confinement. “But the hole started f--king with me. With no human contact the only person I could talk to was myself, and I was saying crazy things, over and over again until I believed them.”

Between 2005 and 2014, Mane released eight studio albums, including the well-received “The State vs. Radric Davis.” In November of 2013, Mane was indicted for felony possession of a firearm. He pleaded guilty the following May and received a 39-month sentence. He was released on May 26, 2016. Following his departure from prison, Mane released two albums in less than a year, “Everybody Looking” and “The Return of East Atlanta Santa,” both to critical acclaim.

The Autobiography of Gucci Mane brilliantly captures the 37-year-old’s struggles and successes, providing an inside look into one of the most influential and prolific rappers of the 21st century. Mane isn’t perfect—many of the violent details he documents will cause readers to shudder—but by the end of his autobiography, we see that he is truly transformed. Prison has not only been a humbling experience for him, it has also been his miracle, his “last chance.”

“It’s not a regrettable biography. It’s just truth,” Mane said in an interview on NPR. “I done made a lot of mistakes and I feel like I’m a resilient person. I shook it off and I kept going and I just want to let people know.” Written in a style that emulates the bravado, cool and effortless lyricism found in Gucci Mane’s discography, this book will appeal both to rap fans and to those who want to learn more about the music that defines a generation.

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