New York Magazine

Mixtapes Saved My Career

Gucci Mane on the failure of his major-label debut and his radical response: Make as much music as you can, as quickly as you can, and release it all for free.

BACK TO THE TRAP HOUSE debuted in 2007 at No. 57 on Billboard’s “Top 200,” selling fewer than 32,000 copies in its first week. My major-label debut was a dud. I knew those beats were not suited to my style. I’d taken too much outside advice. I should have stood up for myself and put out the album I wanted.

The label planned on following the “Freaky Gurl” remix with “I Know Why,” featuring Pimp C, Rich Boy, and Blaze1—the song Polow and I had been working on when he said Waka [Flocka Flame] was going to be a star. But two weeks before the album came out Pimp C died. Something about a sleep-apnea disorder, compounded by drinking lean [soda mixed with codeine-based cough medicine].

My own habits with the stuff had gotten bad. Over the years, there had been times when I’d gone too hard with the X pills, but that had always felt recreational. With the lean,

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