Even while behind bars for a probation violation, Gucci Mane is still one of the hottest acts in hip-hop. 2009 was definitely his breakout year, and due mostly to his string of guest appearances and definitely his mixtape grind.
All those mixtapes were became so popular that MTV names the Atlanta rapper the Mixtape Artist of the Year for 2009, a title he probably deserves.
"It always feels good to be recognized by the streets," Gucci told MTV this week from jail. "That's where I come from, that's where I draw my music from. That's my inspiration. It also feels good be recognized by MTV, [being someone] coming from the streets."
According to MTV, Gucci's bread and butter has been the mixtape circuit, with an estimated 150 songs landing on numerous unofficial tapes sporting his mug on the cover.
Much like Lil Wayne, Gucci's consistent work ethic has helped him build a huge buzz, which has resulted in high profile guest appearances on tracks with Mariah Carey, Usher, Trey Songz and others.
The rapper broke down some of his most popular mixtape titles this year with MTV. Here's what he had to say:
Writing on the Wall (with DJ Holiday): "I started recording that Writing on the Wall the day I got outta jail," Gucci explained. "It was a couple of hours out, and I went straight in and recorded almost half of that mixtape that day. Most of that material I wrote right on the spot. Maybe two or three songs I had wrote in jail. But the whole experience of everybody coming to support, it was like a party outside the booth. I wrote like I was participating in the party. I stayed in there and spit what I was feeling. I made 'I'm Back" that day I made 'Game' with Juice. It was a great time for me. I had a lot on my mind. After that, I kept working. After Writing on the Wall, that's when it all started." (Get your copy here)
The Movie 2 and The Burrprint: The Movie 3-D (with DJ Drama): "I feel like The Movie 2 was one of my best mixtapes ever," LaFlare declared. "I didn't put the campaign forward like I did the Writing on the Wall. It was a great collection of songs. It was better than some of my albums. The Burrprint, it was great mixtape. It was humorous, entertaining and my flow had elevated on that mixtape. So I went real hard by the time I made the Burrprint." (Get your copy here)
The Cold War Series: Guccimerica (with DJ Drama), BurrRussia (with DJ Scream), and Great Brrritain (with DJ Holiday): "I just like to say thanks to Scream, thanks to Holiday and thank to Drama," Gucci announced of the three DJs that helped put his box set of CDs together. "When I presented them with the idea, they was all for it. One day, me and Coach [K] was in the studio recordings songs. I came to Coach; I had a idea, 'Let's do three mixtapes in one day.' I had the titles before I had the music put together. A lot of people tried to follow after me and do the same thing. I appreciate them trying to do what I do. But I don't want to give the misinterpretation that I had a lot of music out there, and I was just getting rid of it. Half was done. The other half I finished when I had the titles. I had maybe enough for one mixtape. I had 13 songs per mixtape. So, in three days I did like 16, 17 songs and split em' all up. That's how I made the mixtape.
"I'm rocking with Drake," he added about getting Drizzy on Guccimerica. "Both of us did our thing this year. It was fun going back and forth with him. He had some ideas for what beats he likes. I had some ideas for producers. We was chopping up ideas. It was challenging, any time you work with an artist that's very creative, it's challenging and it steps everybody's game up." (Get Guccimerica here, or BurrRussia here, or Great Brrritain here)
Outside of mixtapes, Gucci's major label debut The State vs. Radric Davis is in stores now. The album earned the rapper his first top 10 debut on the Billboard 200, landing at no. 10 after pushing 90,000 copies in its first week.
Others to be honored with mixtape honors by MTV included Drake, who won Mixtape of the Year for So Far Gone, while 50 Cent, Lil Wayne and Lupe Fiasco were all runners up; and DJ Drama earned Mixtape DJ of the Year.