INTERVIEW: Gucci Mane On 'Everybody Looking' | Music You Should Know
By Nicole Mastrogiannis
July 22, 2016
Gucci Mane is officially back. After serving time in prison from a 2014 firearm felon, the 36-year-old, Atlanta-born rapper was released in late May, and now just two months later, he's releasing his ninth studio album, Everybody Looking. He did not waste any time while incarcerated or after getting out by launching the first single "1st Day Out Tha Feds" a day after his release, and then announcing Everybody Looking less than a month later. The new record was released by his own independent record label Guwop Enterprises, distributed via Atlantic Records, and features 14 new songs including guest appearances from Kanye West, Drake, and Young Thug.
We recently caught up with Gucci Mane, and he told us everything there is to know about his new album, including what it was like to create while in prison, which songs are the most personal to him, working with not only the featured rappers on the record, but producers Mike WiLL Made-It, Zaytoven, and Drumma Boy as well, during an exclusive interview.
Gucci Mane tells us that he did a lot of the writing for his new album while he was away in prison. He wanted to document everything he was doing and thinking while he was locked up. Then, as soon as he was released, he recorded the songs right away, to capture the emotion behind every lyric.
On how he created 'Everybody Looking' while away in prison
"It was a challenge putting together my album 'Everybody Looking' while I was away in prison. I did a lot of writing on that album and just channeling all my emotions and my feelings during that time, and what I was going through, I wanted to document it. So, I would write the songs and I would mail it to my girl. I would mail it to my assistant, and when I got out, the first six days I was out, I recorded. I recorded those songs because I wanted people to just get a glimpse of what I was going through, and how I was feeling during that time."
A photo posted by Gucci Mane (@laflare1017) on May 28, 2016 at 7:40pm PDT
Part of the challenge of creating an album while away in prison is working with producers while your'e writing the songs. On Everybody Looking, Gucci Mane worked with several talented producers, including Mike WiLL Made-It, Zaytoven, and Drumma Boy. The rapper explains, he would tell them the direction he wanted to go in, sharing the song titles and explaining what the tracks were about. "I had to trust that they would make the sounds coincide with what I had to say." He adds, "[We've been] working together for so long that I knew they were going to get it. I knew that they were going to have a good canvas for me to paint what I wanted to say."
Gucci Mane put a lot of thought into every detail of his new album, and has described Everybody Looking as a "stream of consciousness." He knew exactly what he wanted to say with the record, how he wanted fans to grasp it, the song order, track listing -- every detail was calculated.
On describing the album as a "stream of consciousness"
"I describe this album as a stream of consciousness, and what I mean by that is, it's an album where I'm extremely self-aware. I'm extremely conscious of what I say, what I record, how I want to be perceived, and how I want this album to be received, so I put a lot of thought in that. I put a lot of thought in what song would go as an intro, the album track listing, the titles. Everything was well thought out. So, I think when people hear this, they're going to hear, not only some great music, they get a chance to glimpse of my thought process."
Gucci Mane says he decided to call his new album Everybody Looking because he feels like everybody is watching him right now. Now that he's out of prison, he says everyone from his fans to his peers are watching to see what he's going to do and say, etc.
On the meaning behind the album title 'Everybody Looking'
"The main thing behind the album title, 'Everybody Looking,' is basically me just getting out of prison, I feel like everybody's watching me right now. All the executives are watching to see what I'm going to do, who I'm going to sign. All the artists are watching to see what I'm going to say, what I'm not going to say. All the producers are watching and reaching out to be a part of what I'm doing. All my fans are looking at me. They're in awe at just how I didn't change my appearance, change my body, change my approach. My whole mindset didn't change, and I feel like the world is watching me."
On the Everybody Looking album cover, Gucci Mane is standing shirtless, facing a colorfully painted wall, with both of his arms up in a "V" and both pointer fingers extended, and the rapper tells us the artwork is very meaningful and important to him. He thought about the concept before he even got out of prison, and knew exactly what he wanted.
On the meaning behind his album cover of Gucci facing a multi-colored wall
"The album cover art on 'Everybody Looking' is very, very, very meaningful to me. I had a huge hand in creating it. I knew exactly how I wanted my cover to be. I described to my team what I wanted, and we made it come to life. So, me standing like I just won a heavyweight championship of the world. The actual colors and the whole photo shoot, I thought about that before I even got out of prison."
The very first single Gucci Mane released when he got out of prison, and the first single released from this new album, was "1st Day Out Tha Feds." He tells us the song serves as a "time capsule," showing fans what he was going through while he was incarcerated with lyrics like "I'm hearing shooters load pistols while I'm brushing my teeth/I get so many death threats it's getting normal to me."
On the meaning behind his single "1st Day Out Tha Feds"
"'1st Day Out Tha Feds' was the first song that I released on the album and the first song that I released from prison. This song is super personal. It's super real. It's super graphic. It's like a time capsule. It shows people what I was going through in prison. So, I wanted them to be able to experience that with me without having to actually make the same mistakes I made, and go into a prison. I wanted them to know that there's nothing to be glorified, that it was hard, that it was scary, that it was real."
"1st Day Out Tha Feds" is definitely one of the more personal songs on Everybody Looking, but there are a few more that are just as sentimental to Gucci Mane. He tells us "Back On The Road" and "All My Children" are also very important to him.
On the most personal songs on the new album
"The most personal songs on my new album are, 'First Day Out Tha Feds,' 'Back On Road' and 'All My Children.' I feel like they're personal to me because, 'First Day Out Tha Feds' is really aggressive and just shows how I was feeling when I first got out. 'Back On Road' describes how I'm thinking like, 'If you wasn't there for me then, there ain't no need for you to be there for me now.' And 'All My Children' is, in a way, paying homage to all the artists that I influence, because at the same time, they appreciate me, I'm grateful that I have the chance to help them be heard."
Featured as guests on Everybody Looking are Kanye West, Drake, and Young Thug -- only three. So why these three? Both the Kanye and Drake collaborations came naturally, sending him music that captured what Gucci was thinking at the time. Meanwhile, he explains his Young Thug collaboration is a little more of a sentimental moment. He says he's "proud" of the young Atlanta-born rapper, and wanted to include him on his new album.
On how he chose who to collaborate with on his album
"There are only three features on my album, 'Everybody Looking'; Kanye West, Drake and Young Thug. They ended up being the only three features because ... I wanted to put Young Thug on my album because I feel like I'm proud of Thug. I like what he's doing. I feel like I helped him do it, and I'm proud of that, and just to see him doing it, living his dream, I wanted to make him a part of me getting out and doing my newest album. Kanye West and Drake, they were really organic. Kanye West reached out, so it was a no-brainer, and Drake had a hook for me and a beat, and he sent it to me. He captured how I was thinking when he said, 'You wasn't there for me when I was all alone.' So, that was just a no-brainer."
On the decision to make a music video for every song on the album
"I decided to shoot a video for every track on my album because I wanted people to actually see what I was saying. I wanted to bring to life the things that I was thinking. I didn't want people just to hear it. I wanted people to actually get a visual. This is where I'm at with it right now. I wanted to give them a chance to see me start over."
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