While some critics bemoan Migos’ massive Culture II album as a distended offering, it’s clear the group can’t help themselves when it comes to creating music. During an interview with Power 105’s Breakfast Club, Quavo bluntly revealed his requirements for collaboration: “when the price is right, we can work.” As he gave a “simple-as-that” shrug, I laughed because I knew exactly where that mindset came from: Gucci Mane.
Sure, Lil Wayne was the most prominent artist to flood the internet and mixtape market at such a prolific rate, but Gucci had his own successes in the same timeframe. In 2007, the FBI raided the mixtape pioneer DJ Drama’s Atlanta compound. The move abruptly halted the sale of mixtapes featuring remakes of popular songs. Gucci saw the breach in the market and revolutionized the mixtape game in his own fashion. While Wayne is considered a mixtape king for free projects that skillfully repurposed other artist’s songs, Gucci Mane is an innovator of mixtapes with full, original songs that could chart on their own.
Similar to Wayne — who had to hold the once-bustling Cash Money fort down on his own — Gucci’s rapid musical output arose out of necessity. After an infamous beef with Jeezy got bloody when he murdered an associate of Jeezy’s in self-defense, Gucci Mane was incarcerated for six months. He became a pariah in the trap music kingdom of Atlanta. Upon his release, the doors were still closed on him. That’s when he and go-to producer Zaytoven started recording and releasing music on their own at a breakneck pace that persists to this day. How productive is Gucci Mane? While incarcerated on gun charges from 2014 to 2016, he managed to drop 24 projects. Not songs. Projects.
While Gucci was away, many of the artists that he co-signed and collaborated with rose to prominence, becoming Atlanta royalty in their own right. He gave producers Zaytoven, Mike Will Made-It, and Metro Boomin some of their first breaks; Atlanta rappers OJ Da Juiceman and Young Scooter earned hits under his umbrella; Waka Flocka, Nicki Minaj, French Montana focused their craft and vaulted into national consciousness while affiliated with him. Rich Homie Quan was first heard on Gucci’s Trap House 3 mixtape, and he also began working with Migos, Future and Young Dolph very early on in their careers. Gucci says he gave Young Thug a $25K advance before even hearing a song, merely trusting the co-sign from then-1017 Brick Squad member Peeway Longway.