The Making of Icy
The prospect of a collaboration between new comers Gucci Mane and Young Jeezy had the streets of Atlanta salivating, and after running into Gucci at “Walter’s” shoe store, Kevin “Coach K” Lee (manager to Young Jeezy at the time) helped to make this combination a reality. When the trap duo of Jeezy and Gucci entered the studio for the first time they began to work on a few tracks, but it was Gucci who couldn’t manage to get a certain catchy hook out of his head…
Upon hearing the news that he was going to be collaborating with Young Jeezy, Gucci immediately reached out to his partner and right hand man, Zaytoven -who was working in a barbershop at this time- to tell him about the news. Although Zay didn’t know who Young Jeezy was at the time, Zay quickly went home to make a beat. According to Zaytoven, “[him and Gucci] didn’t have stuff already pre-prepared or none of that. Gucci was just like, 'I got the hook I want you to make the beat around.' He sung the hook, I made the beat, and we went down [to Patchwerk Studios].” What they ended up coming up with would lay the ground work for the smash single “Icy.” However, when Zay and Gucci played the beat for Young Jeezy and his people at the studio, they apparently weren’t feeling it. Jeezy claimed that he wanted something more street. However, those sentiments would soon change:
"They start working on another record. But Gucci kept singing this damn hook. He was singing the hook to everybody. Eventually, I pull Jeezy, and I’m like, 'Yo, man, this shit may be kinda dope. It’s got a melody. He keeps singing the shit. We need to go ahead and cut this record.' So they went in and cut the record.” - Coach K
With Lil’ Will of the Dungeon Family on the hook and Gucci and Jeezy each bringing their own flavor on the verses - three months after they made “Icy” - the song blew up. Peaking at number 46 on the billboard charts for hip hop and R&B the song spread through the country like wildfire.
Who’s Song is it?
"Both of these guys need the song real bad. Jeezy didn’t even want the song, but he needed it. He had the streets on lock, he just didn’t have a song that defined 'Jeezy got the hottest song out,' or, 'Have you heard the new guy, Jeezy, on the radio?' He didn’t have one of them. So “Icy” was that. And for a guy like Gucci Mane, it was like, 'This is my only shot. This is my only shot in the game so I’m not fixing to give this up to nobody.' “Icy” sounded like a Jeezy single because he’s rapping on the first verse, talking about jewelry—and him and the people he was with was always in the fancy cars, with all the jewelry, popping all the bottles—so it almost fit him. It just wasn’t his song. It was Gucci Mane’s song." - Zaytoven
The struggle for rights to the song began. Jeezy's label, Def Jam, supposedly wanted to claim the song as Jeezy’s in an attempt to use the single to launch his career. However, what both Jeezy and his label failed to acknowledge was the fact that the song belonged to Gucci and Zaytoven (remember Jeezy originally didn’t even like the song).
Everything began to escalate when Jeezy released a Gucci diss track entitled "Stay Strapped." In the diss Jeezy placed a bounty on Guwop's prized chain saying, "I got a bounty on that shit, nigga. 10 stacks. So if he come to your town, and you just happen to snatch that motherfucker off his neck, I'm gonna shoot you the 10-stack man. So I can cremate that motherfucker." Gucci responded quickly with his track "Round One," proclaiming that beef between the two was only beginning. It wasn't long however, before these verbal shots turned into the firing of actual shots. On May 10th, 2005, during what should have been a time to celebrate the release of his debut album, Gucci Mane was ambushed by multiple gunmen, one of whom was Henry Lee Clarke III, better known as Pookie Loc, an aspiring rapper under Young Jeezy's Corporate Thugz Entertainment label. Legend has it that the men began pistol whipping a nude Gucci Mane and, upon being threatened by death, Gucci was somehow able to grab a weapon from one of the assailants and fire off shots that hit and killed one of them while sending the others fleeing for their lives. Then - as the myth goes - Gucci proceeded to bury the assailant's corpse in the woods behind a local school. Just a few days later, on May 19th, Gucci turned himself in after a warrant was issued for his arrest. Although he would beat the murder charges - as he famously brags about in one of my personal favorite songs, "Already" - he would find his way to jail after being found guilty of a separate aggravated assault charge in Fulton County for which he would serve 6 months behind bars.
One major pre-requisite for aspiring artists in the rap industry is authenticity. If you aren't authentic then you lose credibility - especially in the trap genre where guns, drugs, and being respected in the streets are the primary topic - which can most likely result in the loss of fans and the loss of a career. So, after the altercation Gucci was inadvertently able to further legitimize himself and become a living, breathing legend in the eyes of many. It also certainly doesn't hurt that he churns out successful songs by the baker's dozen. For a more in-depth look at this famous altercation, check out this Noisey segment on Gucci Mane.
The Birth of Trap
Although there are many artists that were earlier contributors to the building of the transformative sound of trap music like T.I., Pastor Troy, and Shawty Redd; anyone who's anyone knows that Young Jeezy, Zaytoven, and Gucci Mane are the true creators and ambassadors for the sound that embodies Trap Music. Just ask Zaytoven:
Although T.I. had released an early album entitled "Trap Muzik", the sound really wasn't created until Young Jeezy and Gucci Mane came around. In fact, one could even say that Jeezy and Gucci brought this new sound to the forefront with "Icy." More than just a geographically centric movement, Trap Music goes beyond the confines of the city limits of Atlanta. Of course there are the successful Atlanta based artists like Migos, Future, and Young thug, but trap music's influence has even extended to the likes of Houston rapper, Riff Raff, the New Jersey phenom, Fetty Wap, Chicago rapper Chief Keef, and the Los Angeles born rapper iLoveMakonnen (although he moved to Atlanta as a teenager). This sub-genre has certainly had a global influence and the trend is apparent in the mainstream radio waves today in the form of Fetty Wap, Migos, Young Thug, and Future, and embodied by the Future and Drake Collaboration What A Time To Be Alive. And the mastermind behind it all still sits behind bars. Somehow, even while in jail, Gucci Mane has remained influential. Since being locked up in 2013 on weapons charges, he has remained one of, if not the most consistent artist dropping 27 projects in total (even grossing a reported $1.3 million in 2013 alone).