Gucci Mane: Atlanta's Next Mainstream Star?

DJ Drama says the MC is 'on fire' all over the country.

Atlanta's [artist id="1938028"]Radric "Gucci Mane" Davis[/artist] may not be a household name, but chances are he soon will be. Almost four years after he released his debut, Trap House, Gucci is more popular than he's even been, and his star is rising.

Gucci has a catalog of songs that have been tearing up the streets for months. "Bricks," "Photo Shoot," "Shirt Off" and "Stoopid" and the "Make the Trap Say Aye" remix are just some of the titles. Some call him the hottest in the 'hood right now.

"What makes me the hottest MC right now is that I got that flavor," Gucci said on the Atlanta video set of [artist id="3067178"]OJ Da Juiceman[/artist]'s "Make the Trap Say Aye" remix, with a grin that showed off a bottom row of teeth covered in gold. "It ain't all about your swag. I got them spices. I'm seasoning it real well for these folk."

"I can't say he hasn't been hot for quite some time and he hasn't had a cult following," mixtape king DJ Drama testified. He linked up with Gucci for the popular street CD The Movie last year. "He's just somebody that the 'hood could relate to. He's on fire in Georgia, he's on fire in the Midwest. Detroit. Cincinnati or Columbus, Ohio. Pittsburgh. It's different areas where the guy is crazy and [his music] is starting to bubble everywhere. Last year Gucci was the man of the mixtapes. If it was [artist id="860639"]50 [Cent][/artist] one year, then [artist id="2479900"][Young] Jeezy[/artist] one year and Wayne one year, it was Gucci last year. He was on the cover of every single tape. That's when I know that's the person that every market is paying attention to."

"He's the voice box for the average trapper," said [artist id="3137995"]DJ Holiday[/artist], who's working with Gucci on a new mixtape. "The average dude trying to get his money right, he motivates you to go get your money."

Radio legend Greg Street managed Gucci almost five years ago and says his former artist is poised to blow if he handles his business correctly.

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"He's grown up a lot since that time," Street said. "He's grown into that character that the streets accepted a long time ago. Some people are gonna get mad when I say this, but Gucci Mane is the 2009 version of [artist id="958"]Master P[/artist], but not as aggressive. P was coming straight at you, straight-up hard. Gucci's not marketing himself to be a big music mogul like Master P did.

"Gucci hasn't really been exposed to know-how to get with different people at retail or people at MTV and BET," Street added. "He's like Master P without the No Limit Soldiers or the executive knowledge that P [has]. But it really hasn't been nobody like [Gucci] in a long time that's ghetto, 'hood and gutta. He's almost in a lane by himself. The people that love him, love him. You see how people are hating on Soulja Boy or other artists from the South that are not your [lyrical guys] such as [artist id="1269"]Jay-Z[/artist] or [artist id="1000"]Nas[/artist] or [artist id="1293"]Rakim[/artist]. They don't hate on Gucci like that."

The Bouldercrest native's approach to success hasn't been your conventional round-by-round road to victory. He's not a spitter, but he does have very simple, catchy choruses and tracks to keep the club bouncing. The Gucc has been able to gather instrumentals from some of the finest producers in the A in his cauldron.

"A big part of my success has been having them banging beats," Gucci admitted. "Shout out to Fat Boy, Zaytoven, Nitti, Drumma Boy, Shawty Redd."

And, oh yeah, Gucci has a style of his own on the mic.

"We've seen, the past couple of years, some of the most popular artists haven't been the most lyrical, but it's how they say it," said DJ Drama, who features Gucci multiple times on his upcoming Gangsta Grillz II album. "That's one of the reasons. Then his songs: He makes great songs."

He makes a lot of them, too. Gucci went to jail for a probation violation for more than six months, and he still put so much material out, some of his fans didn't even realize he was gone.

"I been many places where people was screaming, 'Free Gucci,' and there would always be somebody to turn around and say, 'Word, he's in jail?' " Drama said.

"It ain't like he's been in jail for 10 years," Street said. "He was only gone six or seven months. Gucci did a lot of records with a lot of people before going to jail when he wasn't real hot. Those records come to the surface when he was gone and helped him out now. Yola had a record with him, Polow had the record he did with him. Gorilla Zoe had records. He had all those mixtape records holding him down."

While he was gone, Gucci grew. His status in the streets is at its zenith. Holiday says as far as the streets are concerned, Gucci is as big to them as any of A-Town's other platinum rap acts.

"He hasn't reached the point where you know how that one artist takes that one good look and gets him over the hump?" Holiday said. "When they're accepted on MTV and VH1 and all the tabloids and magazines? But he's just as big as any of those stars who sell millions of records. He's just as big as any of them for his crowd, the street crowd."

Selling records has never been a Gucci Mane hallmark. In fact, he's given away more music than he's sold in a career doing mixtapes. Even his official albums are marketed independently. Still, the music tastemakers in his hometown feel that the prospect of mainstream fame isn't farfetched, especially if he stays focused.

"I have never seen that man more focused in my life," Holiday attested. "I've been knowing him three or four years. He calls me at 10 in the morning like, 'Let's go to the studio, I got stuff I want to get off my mind.' He wants to reach different people. He'll be like, 'Let's do a song for the girls today. Let's do a song about jewelry. Let's do a song where we stuntin'. Let me tell you what happened to me while I was in jail.' He'll record four songs in an hour."

Gucci's next album will be out in the coming months, with another mixtape scheduled to drop within the next two weeks.