XXL’s fall 2016 issue features a special cover shared by Gucci Mane and Young Thug. For Guwop’s interview, he sat with XXL Editor-in-Chief Vanessa Satten to discuss a range of topics including his “toxic” past, struggles with drugs, making amends, the Atlanta hip-hop scene and his role in it, plus much more. Watch XXL’s full video interview with Gucci Mane above or check out some excerpts and info about the magazine cover story below. The fall issue of XXL hits stands everywhere on Oct. 18.

It’s been six years since XXL’s last in-depth interview with Gucci Mane. Since that time, the Atlanta rapper has been on a roller coaster ride of successes and failures. Most recently, he celebrated getting off of home confinement, which he’s been on since being released from the Federal Correctional Institution in Terre Haute, Ind. on May 26, after serving a 39-month bid for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Just 58 days after getting out of prison, Gucci put out his ninth solo album, Everybody Looking and received positive reviews. Since leaving prison, life has been good for Guwop, but the changed man still finds himself making up for some of the not so happy moments from his past.

Most of Gucci’s drama went down in 2013, a bad year for the MC who found himself struggling with a long-term drug addiction. His music wasn’t connecting with the hip-hop audience like it used to. He was alienating business partners, friends and fans left and right, and regularly getting locked up or going to court, looking bloated and broke down.

On Sept. 7 of that same year, Gucci launched a three-day vicious Twitter tirade dissing an assortment of people including Nicki Minaj, Drake, T.I., Rick Ross, Yo Gotti and Monica plus members of his own Brick Squad crew, industry heavyweights, women he had allegedly slept with and more. When his Twitter rant was done and dozens of people were offended, Gucci deleted the tweets and claimed he was hacked, a story no one believed. On Sept. 12, an embarrassing video surfaced of the rapper almost getting into a messy fight with a shopper at Atlanta’s Lenox Square Mall. Two days later, Gucci was arrested for threatening cops and charged with disorderly conduct, possession of marijuana and a firearm, which was a big problem for the felon. Gucci remained in custody for the next 11 months before being sentenced to 39 months in federal prison.

This spring, Gucci was released from prison after serving three-plus years, coming home a few months early to a hero’s welcome. While locked up, Guwop managed to beat his drug addiction, drop tons of weight and get focused. He put out 24 mixtapes filled with unreleased material, communicated with fans via social networking, and built a cult following made up of young rappers and fans eager to see Gucci return to hip-hop. Another major move he made was freeing up any artists he had signed to his 1017 Records so they wouldn’t be held back by his bid. This included Young Thug, a then unknown Atlanta rapper who Gucci discovered and has since blown up during his absence. But since his release, Gucci, 36, has thrived. He immediately resolved any problems he had with his label, Atlantic Records, and went straight to work on Everybody Looking, wrapping up the album in just six days. Now, he’s gearing up for the release of his next LP, Woptober, due in October and his movie, The Spot, which he’s executive producing, plus a biography and a major tour in 2017. On this fall afternoon at a photo studio in ATL, Gucci is a completely different character from before all the drama.

He’s a survivor, overcoming legal problems, drug addictions and more to get to this point in his life and oh, what a journey it’s been.

On His Toxic Past
“During that time, I was just toxic. I really was just high as hell, out my mind. And I don’t blame…I’m not using the drugs as an escape. It was me. I was in a bad place and I was just so high that I felt like in my mind at the time, like, maybe the only way I could feel good, maybe if I hurt somebody else. I was just that frustrated and that stressed out. I had like six open cases, so it was like, could nobody do right. Everybody was wrong. You know what I’m saying? Even if you was trying to help me, you ain’t do it quick enough. Your timing was off. You really don’t care. You were being manipulative or you just doing it to get something outta me. I just seen things through a clouded lens, so the whole Twitter rant was an example of a person just self-destructing.”

On Quitting Drugs
“If you would’ve told me before I went to jail that I could stop drinking lean and smoking weed…I knew people could do that and I had heard stories of that, but I never wanted to do that. I never ever wanted to not be high. I enjoyed doing it so much so…but I was thinking about putting my plan together, after, like, a year of being away from drugs, it became part of my plan. The way I’m handling business now and the way I think now is way more sharper than how I was before. Maybe if I don’t do that, that’ll keep me from keep going back and forth to jail. I just kept building on that and making that a part of my life. Once I embraced that, it just made me treat everything different. And I think that’s why I’m getting better results now ’cause my whole approach is just different.”

On His Protégé, Young Thug
“I always used to tell Thug, ‘You signed to me, but at the end of the day, you the boss of Young Thug Entertainment. You Young Thug Records like I’m Gucci Records. I gotta manage me. If somebody tell me to be somewhere, I gotta make sure I’m there. Can’t nobody make sure I’m there but me.’ I used to always preach that to them. Don’t think just because somebody may be the financier right now, things change. You might be on a way bigger level than me or whoever behind you, but you got to handle yourself like you a business, like you a brand, so that everybody that meet you be like, ‘I want to do business with this guy. He talented, but at the same time, he understand what’s going on.’”

On the New Atlanta Hip-Hop Scene
“There’s a different sound to some of the stuff that’s going on. I’m forcing myself to like it because, it’s different. It’s not what I grew up listening to. It’s not the stuff I would generally play in my car, but if everybody else like it, who am I to say they’re stupid or that they’re wrong? ...Yeah, so that’s kinda how it ended up, like if I keep saying that it’s stupid, then that means the next four, five artists that’s hot, I don’t sign them. I don’t got no part in what they got going on because I alienate myself. So, I’m forcing myself to see what’s going on now. I be like, They’re creative. They’re smart. They’re marketing themselves. They some little geniuses. That’s how I’m thinking now, so when I see them, “Hey, I like what you got going on” and I’m not being fake about it even if I’m not the biggest fan of their music or whatever.”

 See Exclusive Photos From Gucci Mane's XXL Magazine Fall 2016 Cover Story

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