Behind the Scenes of Gucci Mane's Early Recording Process

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Picture this. It's the mid 2000's, and the south has been steadily drawing out the blueprint for street music in the 21st century. Records in Young Jeezy's early canon such as Let's Get It: Thug Motivation 101 and T.I.'s Trap Muzik have all but literally set in stone the commandments for how music from 'hood should sound in this age. If you're a rapper and you want to base the part you play on what goes on in the trap, you have to be intimidating, you have to be true to your word, and most importantly your flow has to sound menacing over drums that resemble rattlesnakes and bass that blows out strip club speakers. And then, Atlanta's Gucci Mane & DJ Burn One release the the 25-track mixtape Chicken Talk and everything is turned upside down. Now, the playing field is spread wide open for levels of weirdness and eccentricity that don't usually come along with teardrop tattoos and cocaine trafficking.


This was essentially what happened with Gucci Mane's arrival onto the mixtape circuit. Before then, however, Gucci didn't even have any conception of what it was to have a mixtape out. DJ Burn One, the southern producer/DJ and spiritual guide/co-architect behind Chicken Talk , introduced Gucci to the mixtape racket, and from there Gucci Mane's herculean work ethic made the rest southern hip-hop history.

After hearing Gucci Mane's street single "Black Tee," Burn One sought out the rapper and encountered him where you would probably come across most hard-working artists -- in the studio. At the time, Gucci was nearly attached to the hip of local innovator and producer Zaytoven and would constantly be hanging around his studio. It was almost like the dirty south's take on Pete Rock & CL Smooth or Gang Starr, though with far more trips to the strip clubs.

Gucci and Burn One set out to record not too soon after, in what would be a two month period of studio sessions as unique as Gucci's public persona. "Gucci's crazy," laughs Burn One on several occasions, each time probably for good reason. Gucci would randomly get the creative urge in the predawn hours and set out to freestyle for a period long enough to host his own personal festival. At a time when his other associates would be leaving the club to go eat or go home, Gucci wanted to indulge the artistic urge. He partied all day and all night, and still somehow found time to put in a stacked shift of recording. Everyone raps about "grinding" and superhuman efforts to hustle and pound the pavement, but he was one of the few who acted off that mentality.

Within just a couple months, Gucci Mane and Burn One had a massive trap-rap epic on their hand. At the time, Gucci basically only had one photo shoot at the time, so Burn One personally took a picture for the cover art and from there their work was sealed. Chicken Talk was released and began to build and solidify his stature in hip-hop, and both Burn One and Gucci's careers went in separate paths.

It's been nearly seven years since its release, but Chicken Talk is still one of the few earlier trap classics that still holds its charm and its replay value. Like Burn One says, T.I. and Young Jeezy are the "cool dopeboys," but Gucci has always been the character. He's always been the capricious and quirky weirdo and the rapper whose wonky take on somber sides of life is always gratifying to the ears. T.I. and Young Jeezy have only become a bit more light-hearted over the years, but you could always count on Gucci for entertainment.

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