Gucci Mane has built a mountain out of mixtapes, an empire of Brick Squad, but it almost never happened. In 2005, just as it was starting off, Gucci's career was already at a standstill: he had just released "Back to the Traphouse" on Warner, his first major debut guest-starring the likes of Ludacris, Pimp C and a green Trey Songz; the world shrugged. (Reviews from the time called him "unskilled," "mushmouthed" and "uninspired.") For many rap fans, Gucci was simply known for being involved in a war of words and fists with Young Jeezy.

From nothing he cooked something: his long-ignored words suddenly connected with the streets, where they were rediscovered by critics and bloggers. Where some saw insanity, they saw genius. (It doesn't much explain the ice cream tattoo on his face, or, actually, maybe it does.) Four years of grinding led to server shutdowns and a Mariah Carey collaboration in 2009, "Obsessed."

While arrests and general weirdo behavior have limited his potential, he is considered a bold-faced name; his dodo-brain activities warrant TMZ headlines. Gucci's career could've been left for dead on the side of the road, but because of hard work and invention, that fate was reserved only for a woman he famously shoved out of a moving vehicle.