Following his release from prison, Atlanta rapper Gucci Mane debuts new music ... and a new persona 

A Tale of Two Guccis

click to enlarge gucci_mane_-_press_photo_2_-_johnathan_mannion.jpg

Photo by Jonathan Mannion

Radric Davis cleans up real nice for someone whose entire wardrobe consisted of a couple of orange jumpsuits not even eight months ago.

While finishing the end of a three-year prison sentence in his Marietta, Georgia, home, the rapper commonly known as Gucci Mane was known to have designer clothes delivered to his door by members of his entourage. He'd grab the garb himself, but his movements were limited; his court-mandated ankle monitor restricted more than his style. Physical constraints however, never dampened his ambition. In the days following his May 13 release from prison, Gucci Mane conducted interviews, dropped a dizzying array of new music (finishing the recording of October's Everybody Looking less than a week after coming home) and shocked the world when he appeared on social media with a new physique, a new style and, somehow, a new voice. Prison had changed the Atlanta rapper, an artist once known for slurred speech, blatant intimidation and violent episodes.

Before he went to jail, Davis had built an incredible legacy around his music career. Unfortunate choices early in life led him into a life of both selling and abusing drugs. Gucci himself admitted to XXL in a September 2016 interview that he hadn't been sober since he was 17 years old. His early music reflected his hardened lifestyle. His first album was titled Trap House, a blatant nod to his lifestyle.

Commercially the album had relatively minimal impact, but the sound was representative of a new era in Atlanta hip-hop. Trap music was being born, and Gucci was a pioneering artist in bringing this sound to the main stage. His music was gritty, heavily laden with over-amplified bass lines and quick-tempo snares. His lyrics were aggressive and raw, as he spit track after track about what life was like as a cocaine dealer running the streets of Atlanta.

Considering his choices, Gucci Mane was no stranger to trouble. According to an article on DJBooth.net, Davis was arrested and sent to police custody on no less than 10 separate occasions between 2005 and 2013. His charges ranged from simple possession to aggravated assault. He said to XXL's editor-in-chief, "During that time, I was just toxic."

Despite his reckless behavior in his day-to-day life, calculated moves in his dealings within the music industry led him to kick-start the careers of many superstar artists. He invested early in the careers of Young Thug, Waka Flocka Flame and Nicki Minaj, all multimillion-dollar artists today.

The life caught up to the artist, though, and in 2013, Radric Davis was sentenced to three years in prison on felony assault charges, stemming from an infamous altercation between Gucci and a fan. The moment he entered prison, however, Davis made a conscious decision to change his life.

He got sober, and lost a shocking amount of weight. While he was behind bars, he coordinated with his team to continually release a steady stream of music from his backlog, while simultaneously writing new songs in anticipation of his release. The Gucci Mane who emerged from the U.S. Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana, was unrecognizable. Rumors immediately began swirling that he was actually a clone, but the new and improved Gucci laughed at his haters, dismissing the controversy.

The ankle bracelet finally came off on Sept. 20, releasing Gucci from his prison sentence, and more symbolically, his past persona. When asked what inspired his lifestyle change, the artist gives kudos to his girlfriend, for keeping his spirits positive, and concedes that with age, he has grown as an individual.

"I'm just embracing maturing. As I get older, I think my tastes change," he said. "I'm having fun with just putting on clothes and dressing a different way."

Without a doubt, the Gucci Mane that is scheduled to perform at Venue 578 is going to be a different animal than his Orlando fans have witnessed before. The trap never changes, so the beats are the same, and to be frank, so are some of the themes, but the man and the overall message are different. Gucci Mane has come home to reclaim his throne and, damn, does he look good doing it.

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