Gucci Mane Co-Sign Or Contract? Analyzing The 1017 Label Track Record - The Sauce
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Gucci Mane Co-Sign Or Contract? Analyzing The 1017 Label Track Record

Whether he’s adding new tracks to his own expansive catalog or keeping up with new waves of hip-hop as they happen, Gucci Mane is never a person to stay stationary.

Instead, the man that’s often cited as a pioneer of trap music is always trying to push himself forward and bring an entourage of budding talent along with him. Built from the ashes of the original, Mizay Entertainment-backed So Icey Ent, Gucci’s 1017 Records is now a well-established brand name and has an illustrious distributor in Atlantic. As Gucci told XXL in July 2020 his primary goal with the label is to equip new rappers with everything they require to escape adversity and succeed.

“I wanna share [with new artists]. I feel like I got a lot of knowledge,” he revealed. “That which you can be charitable with…. I always embraced the hardcore rapper that don’t nobody want to fuck with, that everyone blackballed or whatever. Those be the people I open my doors to.”

“Gucci’s definitely a mentor figure,” production kingpin Metro Boomin told Noisey in 2014, “He’s the big homie to everybody. In Atlanta, he’ll get anyone to shine… Gucci definitely has one of the best ears in the industry.”

It seems that the East Atlanta Santa’s knack for spotting talent remains as attuned as ever– even if it doesn’t always work out in his favor. When that does happen, like when he missed out on the chance to sign Mulato he still featured on one of her early breakout tracks anyway (“Muwop”). Despite Gucci’s renown as a benefactor to generations of MCs, retracing his steps as both an informal tastemaker and an A&R for own his label highlights a sharp contrast between the two; between those rappers who’ve simply received a public endorsement, or a series of collaborations, versus those who’ve chosen to sign on the dotted line.

When it comes down to it, 1017 has always presented talent that impresses, but never necessarily inspires devotion or shakes the fabric of the genre– or the culture– in the way that many of the artists whose paths have more casually, or perhaps more briefly, intersected with Gucci, have been able to.

Now, tasked with overseeing the careers of a new crop of prospects in Memphis’ Pooh Sheisty, Foogiano, Big Scarr, Roboy and his So Icey Girlz, K Shiday, and Enchanting, it seems a fitting time to examine whether placing your eggs in 1017’s basket maximizes your chances of success or if, in reality, it’s best to avoid contractual ties to the ATL legend in favor of unofficial support and public co-signs.

READ: The Seven Newcomer Rappers to watch for in 2021

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To examine where things go wrong for 1017’s artists in comparison to those that are simply co-signed by Guwop, we need to first consider the reason that they put pen to paper. When you look at the rationale behind the deals, Gucci’s track record doesn’t tend to come into the equation. Instead, these new artists tend to focus on their, either imagined or genuine, personal relationship with Gucci, perhaps even from a fan-level.

Scooped up by the label after Gucci heard one song, Memphis Pooh Shiesty has already achieved more since he was signed in April of last year, than the entire previous crop of signees did during their entire season. 

With his debut project Shiesty Season clocking in first-week units of 65k, it’s Gucci’s biggest success as an A&R that didn’t bear his name, since friend-turned-nemesis Waka Flocka Flame’s Flockaveli. It also suggests that there’s a new pace for 1017’s current class to try and match. And when you look at it from a sheerly numerical standpoint, this new wave of signees that he showcased on October’s So Icey Gang Vol 1 are already far outweighing what Lil Wop or Asian Doll were commanding in terms of views or sales, and are positioned as stars in a way that Gucci perhaps failed to achieve with his previous acquisitions.

Armed with well over a decade of experience as an A&R, talent scout, and label head, it seems that Gucci is learning from both the success stories that he’s played a part, just as much as the failures. By placing the New 1017 centerstage, alongside one flagship artist in particular Pooh Shiesty as he once did with Thugger, OJ Da Juiceman, or Waka Flocka, Guwop has given not only Pooh, but the artists that will take up the label’s mantle afterward, a better chance at succeeding.

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