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Gucci Mane’s iconic career has been marred by several high-profile beefs, the most notable of which was his longstanding feud with Jeezy. This tension has come to a head multiple times, but the pair decided to try to move past their issues by participating in a not-so-friendly Verzuz battle in November. In a new Billboard cover story​, Gucci finally touched on the evening and explained why feelings were still so raw even decades later. 

“Looking back at it, it was tense but it was real,” Gucci bluntly told the magazine.

Guwop’s beef with Jeezy was a rap feud that got all too real, leading to the death of Jeezy’s associate Pookie Loc at the hands of Gucci. The 1017 boss was acquitted for this murder due to self-defense. He then rapped about Loc’s death in his scathing Jeezy diss record “The Truth.” During the Verzuz battle, Gucci performed the track in front of Jeezy, then poured salt in the wound by disrespecting Pookie after the song ended. 

Despite this, tempers stayed in check and the two were able to finish the battle. They even performed the song that tore them apart, “So Icy,” at the end of the evening. 

“It was a good step forward,” Gucci told Bilboard. “For us to do that and for nothing bad to happen, that was great.”

Posting his magazine cover on Instagram, La Flare flexed, “I walked out of federal prison May 26, 2016 I had a 5 year plan to run my bread up and get my life together. Plan accomplished.” (The story is billed as “The Gucci Mane Five-Year Plan: Get out of jail. Get it together. Build a label empire.”)

Gucci is often hailed as the most influential artist in trap music history for the way he keeps his ear to the streets and gives up-and-coming rappers a helping hand. Without Gucci, the world may have never known Young Thug, Metro Boomin, Waka Flocka Flame, and so many more as they are today. Upon his release from prison in 2016, Gucci rededicated himself to rebuilding his 1017 brand. This led him to discover two of music’s hottest young artists, Pooh Shiesty and Foogiano. 

Pooh told Billboard Gucci wasn’t just interested in his music, he was also enamored by his lifestyle. Pooh said Gucci wanted to learn how to do the money spread—a skill that nearly strung Shiesty into a beef with Kodak Black—as well as gave him autonomy to run his own label outside 1017.

“He had fresh new hundreds so thick. I had nothing but raggedy 20s,” Shiesty said when talking about introducing Gucci to the money spread. “He’s like a big brother. We get on FaceTime and talk for four or five hours.”

Unfortunately, on the other side of this coin, Foogiano was recently arrested for several charges related to a gun case and fleeing authorities which he admits dampened the label’s spirit. “Foogiano getting arrested and locked up, that put a damper on everybody’s spirit,” Gucci confided in a sympathetic tone. “He’s going through the same things that I went through. It has been tough seeing him go through that, especially with him having a little boy. Me and him had a son right around the same time. He’s in good spirits, but it’s still unfair to him, and we’re going to try and appeal it.”

Still, the New 1017 is forging on with Gucci at its helm. He told the magazine he dreamed as a teenager not to become an artist, but to discover huge acts like Kriss Kross. “I wanted to be a Jermaine Dupri. I never got into music thinking, ‘I’m going to be this rapper and just chase this solo career.’ It was like, ‘Let’s all put our heads together to help [each other].’ It takes a village to do anything. You need that community,” he reflected.

The CEO is setting the tone for his artists now. His infamous ice cream cone face tattoo is literally fading away, mirroring the new space his life has entered. He’s now all about his business, building up his brand and taking no less than $100,000 for a show. 

“He doesn’t travel with a gun anymore,” his wife Keyshia Ka’Oir said. “When we first met, the gun was on his lap at all times. Now, he’s definitely a businessman.”