I did not expect that I would finish the book in two sittings over the course of 24 hours and find my head swirling with lyrics, ideas, and a profound new understanding of what a 21st century memoir can look like. The Autobiography of Gucci Mane, written with music journalist Neil Martinez-Belkin, quietly defies the conventions of the celebrity memoir genre; in parts, it reads like what I can only describe as pop culture poetry.
All out in the open for easy access. Not just scared of what was going on with me, but scared of me.
Scared to call me. Scared to see me. Over the course of the book, the life of Alabama-born and Atlanta-based rapper Gucci Mane real name Radric Davis blooms into technicolor through effortless-feeling prose.
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He also maps the growth of trap music throughout Atlanta and beyond; now-famous names like Migos, Young Thug, and Future are documented in their formative moments, making the book both historical record and autobiography. While subjects like drugs, music, and money are not atypical for any book chronicling the fast-paced life of the rich and the famous, the differences lies in the way that Gucci and Martinez-Belkin approach the reader: conversationally, gently, earnestly. It is not PR spin, but a text of facts, no detail spared.
We have simply been invited to witness them. Flashy celebrity memoirs are by no means a rarity on the book market. It seems as though everyone with a certain level of social capital believes that the entirety of their upbringing warrants a glossy hardcover complete with insets of grainy childhood photographs. While some memoirs become bestselling classics, below them lies a sizable pyramid of trite, premature, and just plain poorly written books.
Regardless, many publishers are happy to print celebrity memoirs of any size, shape, or quality because no matter what, readers will buy them. In fact, celebrity memoirs aimed at both adults and teenaged readers are responsible for a recent uptick in book-buying. Memoirs written by Britney Spears, Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus and so, so many unremarkable others have all sold a fair number of books, but received tepid critical responses at best.
Historians of the future will hang their heads after looking to these books for dates and facts, only to find a handful of silly stories, spread thin.
Gucci Mane, Reborn
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