Wednesday, December 27, 2017

The Autobiography of Gucci Mane by Gucci Mane with Neil Martinez-Belkin


The Autobiography of Gucci Mane is generating a lot of excitement in my classroom. So, I borrowed a copy from a student and read it. Y’all, I love this book...

For those who are not quite familiar with Gucci Mane, he is a rapper who is known for Trap Music. According to Gucci Mane himself: Trap Music is “something raw. Something that has not been diluted. Something with no polish on it. Music that sounds as grimy as the world that it came out of.” (P. 52)

Also, after a little research, I also found out that Gucci Mane has a reality TV show and lots of lots of fans, including a new fan, Jacqueline Stallworth. Yep, I’m a fan.

This story matters.....

I was not reading this book, just like with most of the books that I read, to disagree or agree, but to get an understanding, develop a little more empathy, and to enjoy. AND, with this book, I did all three.

Here are some things that are on my mind after finishing this book:

1. “I was playing around with my voice, my cadence, and my diction and after awhile all those reservations I’d had slowly started to fade away. (P. 51)

Gucci Mane may have been born with a gift for rapping, but he had to work to cultivate that skill. Gucci Mane worked on his voice, studied rap, and practiced. Overtime and with lots of work, he became Gucci Mane the rapper and created music that folks love.

Now, doesn’t that sounds like most of us? We have to work at things in order to get better and maybe even good. I hope that when the youth read this book, and they are reading it, they understand that we have to put in work to achieve dreams. This man was writing music relentlessly while in prison... and produced projects as soon as he was released that received a lot of praise.

To develop our skills; we have to put in the work....

2. “I was rapping for the young boys on the corner with dirty T-Shirts on. The ones cooking up in the kitchen. The car thieves. The shooters. The n-----ers breaking into houses. I was rapping my reality. (P. 110)

Stories matter... Whether or not I like what he says in his rap, he is rapping his reality and the reality of folks similar to him. I think that many of us love stories that we can relate to, and we have respect for folks who courageously tell their stories, because it gives us courage to tell ours.

Recently, a student gave me a book that she really connected to, and she wanted me to read it. Well, I read the book and found the student and desperately wanted her to tell me that this extremely sad story was not her story, and it was. This book helped me to connect to this student, and I am grateful that the writer wrote that story. Telling our stories matter...

So, Gucci Mane’s story matters, and him telling his story may be helping a whole bunch of folks, and maybe giving folks courage to speak their truth.

3. "This would become a trend throughout the course of my career. Whenever the music wasn’t going right I would fall back into the streets. Maybe it was a coping mechanism. Going back to something I knew I’d find success in when I wasn’t experiencing it elsewhere. Whatever it was, it was a habit that went on for much longer than you’d think." (P. 119)

I read this and thought: “Yes, Yes, Yes!”

Under stress, many of us go back to what we are familiar and comfortable with, and it seems like what we go back to are things that are not good for us: folks, food, drink.... and a whole bunch of other stuff that is within our comfort zone.

I want Gucci Mane to know, “Brother, you are not alone."

4. “... freestyling proved to be much quicker way for me to knock out songs. So that’s what I started doing and did so relentlessly. I became a machine. I would record six or seven songs a day. Easily.... My work ethic paid off.” (P. 140 -141)

Hard work pays off... PERIOD!

5. “It did not sit well with me that I was this gangster rapper talking about hitting licks and moving bricks in my music, but then I was hiding with rats when I got locked up. I wanted to be treated like everyone else. So when I returned to Fulton County in the fall of 2008, I signed a waiver to be in the general population.” (P. 145)

I totally respect the fact that Gucci Mane did not just “talk the talk but he walked the walked.” He was not writing one thing and doing something else.

At the end of the day, “To thine Own self be True.” I can’t tell my students that reading is important, and I not take the time to read. Folks are watching... “Walk the Walk."

6.“With all I’d been through of late I’d never felt more alienated. I was an outcast, a rebel, a weirdo. More than anything I was tired. Tired of running away from my reputation, tired of trying to convince people I wasn’t a bad person. I wanted to embrace the villain. (P. 191)

I’m wondering how many of us are living out what we believe people think about us....
How many folks are pretending to be things that they are not, because that is what folks expect...
What if we could be free of other folks' thoughts or what we believe they are thinking, and live our lives?

7. “Prison is time. I tried to use the time to better myself. I kept up the exercise... I lost nearly eighty pounds... I was able to work the cafeteria staff and eat a little better....I followed changes I’d made to my body by working to strengthen my mind. I was devouring books. A lot of self-help, inspirational stuff. Tony Robbins. Deepak Chopra. Malcolm Gladwell. James Allen. The biographies of Pimp C. and Jimi Hendrix. Mike Tyson’s autobiography.” (P. 254)

Discipline and Reading, Discipline and Reading, Discipline and Reading........
I truly believe that the amount of discipline that a person has, has a lot to do with his/her success.... AND, reading saves lives, reading changes lives, WORDS matter!

8. “If you keep lookin’ back you gon trip going forward.... I’ve taken heed to that. To start a new chapter you’ve got to turn the page on the last one. Still, every now and then I do think it’s okay to stop and look back, just for a moment, before continuing on your way. Especially when it’s a hell of a story.” (P. 270)

Not much I can say after that.... Gucci Mane basically summed it up!

I am excited about this book, and I can’t wait to get back with my students to hear their thoughts and takeaways....

In all of your getting, get an understanding....

Consider reading this book!


1 comment:

Beverly Armstead said...

I'm going to have to put this book, on my reading list. I never knew Gucci Mane biography.

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