The Autobiography of Gucci Mane
September 13, 2013
The police had taken my pistol the day before but I wasn’t without heavy arms. I’d been stockpiling weapons at the studio. Glocks, MAC-10s, ARs fitted with scopes and hundred-round monkey nuts. All out in the open for easy access. I was in Tony Montana mode, bracing for a final standoff. I didn’t know when it would happen, who it would be, or what would force its occurrence, but one thing I did know: something bad was going to happen and it was going to happen soon.
I looked around my studio. The Brick Factory. It seemed like just yesterday this had been the spot. Everybody would be over here. At all hours of the day for days on end. But now the Brick Factory looked more like an armory than a place where music was made. I’d seen the looks on people’s faces when they came through. My studio was no longer a fun place to be. Onetime regulars started dropping like flies until I was the only one left. Alone.
Everyone was scared again. Not just scared of what was going on with me but scared of me. Scared to call me. Scared to see me. Keyshia had tried to be a voice of reason. She tried telling me the things I was stressing over weren’t as bad as I was making them out to be. That my problems were manageable. That we could figure them out together. But I was too far gone and even Keyshia had her limits. A few days earlier I’d snapped on her and she’d hung up the phone. She’d had enough.
A paranoid mess, I went and checked the CCTV monitor for any activity outside. None. The parking lot was empty. The gate was secure. If that brought me any peace of mind, it disappeared as soon as I looked away from the screen, down at my feet.
The ankle monitor. I was a sitting duck. Everyone knew I was here. And they knew I couldn’t leave.
That wasn’t entirely true. I wasn’t supposed to leave. But I had, the day before, when I’d gone to my lawyer Drew’s office and the police got called. They found a loaded .45 next to my belongings. They let me go but took the strap with them to get fingerprinted and turned in to evidence. I knew my days were numbered. I’d violated my house arrest and had a run-in with the law while doing so.
If I was going back to jail anyway, I might as well go find these niggas I’d been having problems with. These were my old partners, but things had soured and they’d been sending threats my way. I didn’t want to wait until I got out of jail to see if these niggas were about all the shit they’d been talking. We could handle this now. I grabbed a Glock .40, some smoke, and was on my way.
During my walk to their spot I’d fallen into something of a trance, mumbling incoherent thoughts to myself as I wandered
down Moreland Avenue. But my zombie-like state was interrupted by the red and blue flash of police lights. It immediately put me on high alert.
“Hi, Gucci,” I heard. “I’m Officer Ivy with the Atlanta Police Department. What’s going on?”
That was a red flag. No police had ever said “Hi, Gucci” to me like that before.
“Is everything okay? Your friends called us. They’re worried about you.”
Red flag number two. My friends were certified Zone 6 street niggas. They ain’t the type to call the law.
None of this was adding up. Even with codeine and promethazine syrup slowing me down, my heart jumped as I realized what was happening. Or what I thought was happening. This man was no cop.
I knew niggas who did this. They’d dress up in police uniforms, get a kit put on their Dodge Chargers, and pull someone over, impersonating police. They’d tell them it was a routine traffic stop and before they knew it they were tied up in the trunk of their own car.
“Gucci, do you have any sort of weapon on you right now?”
“I do got a weapon,” I barked back, pointing to the Glock bulging out of my jean pocket. “Don’t unholster yours. I ain’t surrendering nothing until you prove you’re for real. Call for backup.”
More officers arrived on scene but that didn’t calm me. The standoff continued. When I told them I’d shoot ’em up if they touched me, they moved in and took me down, arresting me for disorderly conduct. After they found the gun and weed, more charges would follow.
Cuffed or not, I wasn’t done fighting. I yelled, spat, and kicked
as officers did their best to restrain me. Paramedics arrived and scrambled to inject me with a syringe. Were they poisoning me? When one wasn’t enough they shot me up with another. Only then did I start to let up. I sank into the stretcher, a chemically induced calm putting an end to my nightmare.
August 14, 2014
Eleven months later I was in the US District Court of Georgia watching a conversation between Judge Steve Jones and Assistant US Attorney Kim Dammers. It was my sentencing hearing.
“. . . Nonetheless, the government thinks that this is in fact a just sentence. Mr. Davis has a substantial history of violence in the past. He has an aggravated assault in 2005 that’s in paragraph twenty-nine in the presentence report, a battery that was also a probation—”
“I saw that,” said Judge Jones.
“—in paragraph thirty-three. He has an aggravated assault pending in paragraph thirty-eight.”
“I saw that.”
“And of course there was the murder in DeKalb County that he was charged with but never brought to an indictment. And then there was also a battery in Henry County where the victims were unwilling to come forward. Reading between the lines, you could fairly say—”
“So given that, the government was not willing to enter in a low end of the guideline range. It’s only two months’ difference. It was more a matter of principle than anything, but I think thirty-nine months is a significant enough sentence for Mr. Davis to understand the seriousness of the offense.”
A few minutes later Judge Jones was ready to make it official.
But before he handed down my punishment, he had some words for me.
“Mr. Davis, again, I want to explain to you why I’m accepting this binding thirty-nine months’ confinement. You have a serious offense here. Possession of a firearm by a convicted felon is a serious offense and I think in looking at the 3553(a) factors, I have to take that into consideration, the history and characteristics of the defendant, and also deterrence. You are not supposed to have a firearm. I also look at the overall record and looking at everything—the factors and the presentence report—I find this to be an appropriate and reasonable sentence under the circumstances. Now, the sentence you are going to receive, the rest of it I’m going to tell you about in a minute . . .
“You are still a young man. You still have a full life in front of you. From what I’ve been told by my nieces and nephews, you have a very famous life. But I’m an old man and I’ve seen a lot of things in these years and I’ve seen a lot of famous people lose out in life. And I won’t go down the list. I’m sure your lawyers can tell you who they are. I’ve seen a lot of famous athletes, a lot of famous people in music, movie stars. If they continue—if you continue down the track you continue down, you are going to be like a lot of them. You are going to wake up one morning broke. You are going to wake up one morning back in prison again. Or worse, you’re not going to wake up at all one morning.
“You have a talent. Again I apologize, I’m still a Four Tops guy. It’s hard to keep up. I’ve been trying to find out more things. According to my nieces and nephews you have a great career in front of you. You’ve got a prison term that you’ve got to do and after that you are still a young man. You can do a lot if you abide by and follow the law.
“The law applies to everybody. No matter who you are, what you do, the law applies to you. It applies to me. It applies to Ms. Dammers. It applies to the agents. To your attorneys Mr. Findling, Mr. Singer-Capek. Everybody in this room. You follow it, and again from what I’ve been told you have a lot you can get done.”
Thirty-nine months. No surprises there. I’d agreed to it as part of a plea deal I’d accepted back in May.
While the judge, Ms. Dammers, and my lawyers went on to review the terms of my confinement and probation period, I started doing the math. A calculation I’d made a thousand times since they offered me that plea deal.
Thirty-nine months. I’d already served eleven, so that meant twenty-eight more. I could handle twenty-eight. Maybe only twenty-four if they let me serve the end of it on house arrest. Drew seemed certain we could make that happen. Twenty-four months. Two more years. Three total.
Give or take a few, thirty-nine months was about the amount of time I’d already spent locked up over the course of my life to date. But that time had been spread out over a series of different bids. Thirty-nine months straight up wasn’t going to be easy. But I could get through it. And when I got out I’d still have some time to make things right.
When I did come home I’d have to start moving a different way. I was getting another chance but this was the last one. They were making an example out of me this time. Next time they were throwing away the key. No room to make the same mistakes.
Good. Things had to be different this time. I’d already started making changes. But I wasn’t done. If I really wanted to start fresh I was going to have to find closure with everything that landed me here. Maybe I could do that in twenty-four months.
Talking about my life has not been easy. It’s been that way for a long time, really ever since I caught that murder charge right as I was getting my start in the rap game. I remember walking out of DeKalb County Jail the day I made bond and seeing the line of reporters waiting for me. I wondered how long they would follow me. I wondered how long the events of that night would follow me. That was such a strange time.
I hated doing interviews. I’d try to keep my composure but inside I’d be festering, fuming that people were putting me in a situation where I had to speak on things that were the last things I wanted to speak about. I’d tell myself to give them the benefit of the doubt. That these were journalists doing their jobs. That they didn’t know how fucked up it was to ask me those questions. That they weren’t trying to disrespect me. Still, I always felt disrespected.
Over the years I tried to numb those feelings, to forget them, to pretend they didn’t bother me. Didn’t work. There are some things in life you can never completely walk away from, as badly as you might want to.
But I could try to make peace with all that had happened. And a lot had happened. Ups, downs, and all that led up to those ups and downs.
“Mr. Davis, is there anything you want to say before I sentence you?” Judge Jones said, bringing my attention back into his courtroom. “Anything you want to present?”
“I just want to first say that—”
“Stand up, please,” he interrupted.
I stood up.
“I want to say that I thank you and I definitely don’t want to withdraw my plea. I just thank you for your time.”
“Okay. Thank you, Mr. Davis.”