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Gucci Mane has put in the work to be called the ‘So Icey King’. Starting his rap career in the ‘00s, Gucci became a pioneering star, showing off his sedated flows and sizzurp-sipping demeanour, which debatably started trap music (although T.I might disagree). Hailing Atlanta and the dirty South, Guwop was always trying to stay ahead of his peers by being the business-minded individual he always has been, including starting his own label, So Icey Entertainment, in 2007.

After many label reforms due to his problems in-house (mostly with his once-protége Waka Flocka and his mum Debra Antley, who actually is a legendary rap manager), the newly named 1017 Records is now where Gucci Mane gets to flex his A&R muscles. It’s about time he was recognised for his accurate picks on who’s the next big rap star. There are plenty of successful rappers today whose career Gucci has had a hand in – and we’ve put some of the best in a list for you.

Waka Flocka Flame

Coronavirus
Waka Flocka Flame performs in concert during the “PTSD” tour at The Tabernacle on March 11, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. Credit: Paras Griffin/Getty Images

It’s common rap trivia that, at one time in the late ‘00s, Waka Flocka and Gucci Mane were as thick as thieves. And, with Gucci’s old manager being Flockavelli’s mother Debra Antley, it was inevitable that rap would play some part in Waka’s life. Tagging along with his mother, he and Guwop became the best of friends, and when Waka wanted to become this glitzy rap star, Gucci Mane took him under his wing. He became the first-ever signee to Gucci Mane and 1017 Brick Squad, and the two were inseparable – the Batman and Robin of the trap game. It’s a shame they’re no longer on good terms with each other anymore.

OJ Da Juiceman

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After meeting the So Icey King, who once lived in his apartment complex back in the early ‘90s, and watching him blow, the 39-year-old always been in the shadow of his famous best friend. Yet you can’t discredit Gucci Mane for introducing his talented friend to the world. Releasing his acclaimed 2009 debut ‘The Otha Side of the Trap’ under the old So Icey Entertainment, as well as his follow-up 2014’s ‘The Otis Williams Jr. Story’ under 1017 Records, OJ has been able to show off his lazy, nonchalant flow. He’s rocked with Gucci for over 30 years; this type of loyalty is rare in rap.

Young Thug

Young Thug performs live in 2018. CREDIT: John Parra/Getty Images for Live Nation

Before Thugger was dipping his foot in the A&R world with his record label Young Stoner Life, he was scouted by La Flare and signed to 1017 Records in 2013. Within his year-and-a-half at 1017 Records, Thug and Gucci were having loads of fun in the musical world; Young Thug’s fourth mixtape ‘1017 Thug’ was critically praised and featured on Best of Year lists, and the duo even did a joint mixtape ‘Young Thugga Mane La Flare’ in April 2014. Praised for his uniqueness by the big leagues, Gucci will forever have bragging rights as he did indeed sign the YSL crooner first.

Future

Future drops new mixtape
Future drops new mixtape

Gucci wasn’t the first to find only one seminal rap crooner – he also discovered Future early into his career too. Right before Future’s huge record deal with Epic Records, Gucci made  another one of his famous collaborative mixtapes with Future, lending some of his rapper icon clout to the budding star.

Gucci gave Future that little celebrity boost to bring up Future’s rap validity, proving the latter can roll with the big dogs. This was all happening in 2011, a confusing time for music since everyone was moving from the TV and radio to YouTube and Datpiff for the hottest songs, so a familiar name helped. And with his early Gucci Mane co-sign, Future was destined to be a force to be reckoned with.

Migos

Migos
Migos performing live. Credit: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for iHeartMedia

Another shocking one! Of course, being an Atlantan himself, Gucci Mane seemingly knows where the talent in his hometown is at. Gucci certainly was one of the first mainstream stars to give them a verse, featuring on their 2013 third mixtape ‘Y.R.N’, as well as creating 2014’s ‘The Green Album’ with them (a part of the ‘World War 3D’ trilogy Gucci released from prison). They’re now managed by QC co-founder Coach K – who was Gucci’s ex-manager as well – and there seems to be a bunch of connections between the ‘Freaky Girl’ rapper and the younger pop stars. It doesn’t matter whether Gucci Mane did give them his chains or not back in 2013 (which lead to a huge Instagram beef in 2019) – he still proved he was ahead of his time by jumping on a Migos track all those years ago.

Zaytovan

Zaytovan has made a lot of hits in his time, but many don’t know that he too was once signed to 1017 Records under a management deal. In love with his beats, Guwop made Zaytovan his right-hand musical man, which was one of his smartest smart moves. The plethora of hits that the two have have together (like their 2005’s smash ‘Icy’ featuring Young Jeezy and Boo) is undeniable. Zaytovan and Gucci Mane have an almost indescribable, unmatchable synergy, similar to JetsonMade and DaBaby’s, and it’s all due to one of Zaytovan’s friends at Barber school introducing the two. How cool!

Peewee Longway

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Known as the last rapper signed to 1017 Records before Gucci Mane’s three-year-long imprisonment for two counts of possession of a firearm, Peewee Longway had a lot to live up to since the rap world had their eyes on the guy who was meant to keep 1017 relevant. Longway became another one of Gucci’s acclaimed protéges as he too – just like the Migos – had a whole album with Gucci Mane on ‘World War 3D’, and — if that wasn’t enough — made a supergroup with fellow signee Young Dolph and the CEO himself, Felix Brothers. Gaining enough notoriety to be on tracks with Young Thug (fun fact: PeeWee put Gucci onto Thugger, according to Genius), GoldLink, and NBA Youngboy, PeeWee is this high figure only rap’s biggest fans know of.

Chief Keef

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The Glory Boyz leader was definitely popular before he ever met Gucci Mane: ‘I Don’t Like’ was already a certified Chicago banger getting loads of airplay. After the hit went viral through the rap community in 2012 — with the help of the internet, especially Twitter — the bidding war for Keef was brutal; even trap legend Young Jeezy wanted him. So, after he was reluctantly dropped from Interscope in 2014, the 25-year-old allegedly actually signed a deal with 1017 Records. Whether it happened or not, Gucci didn’t really help Keef’s rap career because that was already thriving, but La Flare helped a lot with his production career. He produced 16 out of 20 tracks on their joint collaborative album ‘Big Gucci Soca’, which was the start of the Chicagoan’s producing career.

Asian Doll

A part of the dubiously dubbed SoundCloud ‘female rap’ influx, Asian Doll gained great Instagram and SoundCloud followings due to her knockout rap freestyles over popular beats like Playboi Carti’s ‘Lame N****s’ and Nicki Minaj’s ‘Itty Bitty Piggy’. However, she wasn’t getting much acclaim nor that many streams – somewhere along the line she wasn’t getting the exposure she needed except the small SoundCloud community. In comes Big Guwop himself, freshly out of jail and, doing a complete 180 degrees with 1017 Records, this internet star became the First Lady of 1017 Records, signing in 2018. Taking her from the phone screen to the red carpet at the 2018 VMAs, Gucci Mane was the first to help bring the rapper to the mainstream eye before her on-and-off-again relationship with late drill star King Von.

Pooh Shiesty

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Yes: Gucci Mane is also famous for his signature ad-libs, most popularly his “brrrr”s. However, his latest protége – Tennessee star Pooh Shiesty – has borrowed them for himself. Something like the gen-Z version of Gucci Mane, the new Big Brrr has been making waves with his deepened nonchalance that mimics his mentor, and it’s taken over rap very swiftly.

After the colossal success of ‘Back In Blood’ with drill sergeant Lil Durk, everyone is falling in love with the 21-year-old – and all Gucci had to do was sign him. Pooh Shiesty is part of the brand new 1017 ‘Brick Squad’, the roster of newcomers that Gucci Mane has co-signed – alongside Memphis’ Foogiano and Big Scarr – and it seems he has finally polished his strategies when it comes to running a successful label.

The post 10 artists who prove that Gucci Mane is one of the best A&Rs in rap appeared first on NME.

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