In light of Gucci Mane's desire to "handle" Eminem back in 2009, one has to wonder what a beef might have looked like.
Throughout his career, Slim Shady has fielded no shortage of opponents. Cage, Everlast, Fred Durst, Canibus, Benzino, Ja Rule, Mariah Carey, and Machine Gun Kelly have all taken up arms against Em’s banner, only to be cast aside. Diss tracks like “Girls,” “Quitter,” “The Sauce,” “Can-I-Bitch,” “Nail In The Coffin,” “The Warning,” and “Killshot” have all but cemented Em as one of hip-hop’s most formidable opponents. Yet a narrative has long pestered the rapper, in which he carefully sets his sights on “soft targets,” neglecting to engage with rappers ostensibly on his level.
It’s not entirely a fair assessment on Em’s character, seeing as his longstanding beef with Murda Inc. certainly escalated beyond hip-hop, but one that exists nevertheless. Some are quick to point to Em’s perceived ducking of Royce Da 5’9”, who previously let fire with the scathing “Malcolm X;” through, Em sent a few subs on “Conspiracy,” but it was hardly the tete-a-tete fans were hoping for. In any case, the nature of Em’s carefully curated shit-list is up for debate. One thing, however, is not. Em has been known to fly off the handle at the slightest sign of disrespect, lashing out at pop stars with a bully’s brash confidence. Yet what happens when a battle-hardened entity like Gucci Mane enters the arena?
Today, Nick Cannon opened up about the beef between Mariah Carey and Eminem, which found his name dragged across “The Warning’s” piano-driven instrumental. Speaking with Vlad, Cannon explained that Gucci Mane was one of the first to reach out. “When me and Eminem so-called had the beef, the whole thing with Mariah, [Gucci Mane] was one of the first people to be like 'Hey bruh. We can go handle it,” laughs Cannon. Seeing as “The Warning” dropped in summer 2009, it stands to reason that Gucci’s offer popped off in the autumn season. By that point, Gucci and Em seemingly never crossed paths. Still, given Wop’s proposition, it’s clear that animosity had managed to brew nonetheless.
On top of the “handling” of the situation, Guwop made his alliances known by appearing on Mariah Carey’s “Obsessed (Remix),” which many have come to view as an Eminem diss track. On its own, Guwop’s appearance is seemingly innocuous. Viewed in the context of Cannon’s revelation, it takes on a far more antagonistic light. “I guess shorty mad he don't got you no more, so just like Pinocchio, his nose gon' grow,” raps Gucci, in the track’s opening lines. “Gucci been about that smoke,” cackles Cannon, reflecting on the situation. The implication being that Gucci had little to no respect for the rap superstar; why else would one be so quick to seek a feud?
That’s not the only time Gucci Mane proceeded to poke the bear, as it were. In 2013, not long before Gucci Mane found himself imprisoned for three years, the rapper went on a truly surreal and no-fucks-given Twitter rant. During the course of it, Guwop disavowed his then-label Atlantic Records, claimed to have slept with Nicki Minaj, called out Drake, Quavo, TI, 2 Chainz, and Eminem. Though far less inflammatory, Gucci Mane spoke on Eminem a few times since his release from prison. In a 2016 Fader profile, Gucci praised Eminem’s skill, but dismissed his value to the streets. “Do I recognize he’s super talented? Hell yeah!” he said. “But do I want to play that when I jump in my Maybach?” In December 2018, Guwop seemed to have shifted ever-so-slightly toward his dismissive angle. When asked whether Em was worthy of “King” status, Gucci appeared incredulous. “You gotta come with a better name,” he said. “I don’t play Eminem in my car.”
Given his pedigree as both a fearsome street presence and prolific recording artist, Gucci Mane cast an imposing shadow across the game. In fact, he still does, despite his seemingly docile nature. In his prime, Gucci was a boogeyman of sorts, though by Nick Cannon’s estimation, never a bully. Still, Wop was no stranger to warfare, and never hesitated to handle his business beyond the recording studio. His year-spanning feud with Young Jeezy is well documented, and the battle eventually reached a violent peak. For those unaware, Gucci Mane found himself attacked by several of Jeezy’s entourage in 2005, which prompted Guwop to kill one of the men in self-defense; he was later acquitted of the charge, though he would eventually boast about the act in the ruthless Jeezy diss “Truth.” Unlike Eminem, who declared an armistice with 2004’s “Like Toy Soldiers,” Gucci seemed to welcome all comers. One has to wonder, what might have happened if Gucci Mane and Eminem squared off? The answer likely depends on when.
Gucci Mane - "Truth"
DRAWING A PARALLEL
Interestingly enough, despite their differing styles, Eminem and Gucci Mane actually underwent a similar trajectory in the early millennium, at least where attitude and demeanor were concerned. Few have come to associate Eminem with “street credibility,” in the way that Gucci’s reputation seems to invite, but we must recall a brief period between 2003 and 2004, in which Em found himself thrust into an increasingly heated Murda Inc feud. The change was reflected in his music, which seemed to take on an increasingly aggressive tone; what once was a depiction of cartoonish insanity became seeped in a thuggish reality.
Consider songs like the Trick Trick assisted “Welcome 2 Detroit City,” in which Trick’s presence alone felt like a statement of authenticity. “911,” which dropped in 2003, featured the Samoan rap group Boo Yaa Tribe, a formidable band of Carson rappers. His turns on Jadakiss’ “Welcome To D Block” and Obie Trice’s “There They Go” seemed to revel in painting hellish depictions of urban landscapes. To paint a picture of Em’s mentality at the time, consider this reflection from Bang Em’ Smurf, who previously opened up about the “In Da Club” video shoot that almost went left. When Suge Knight rolled through with an alleged gang of Mexican bangers, Em held it down alongside the G-Unit and Shadyville soldiers, donning a bulletproof vest. As intimidating as Gucci Mane might have been, there are few capable of striking fear like Suge Knight; yet Em has always set his sights on dissing the Death Row mogul, only staying his hand out of respect for Dre.
Eminem, B-Real, & Boo Yaa Tribe - "911"
In that sense, it’s almost fortunate that the pair did not clash during that particular era, though Gucci only started rising to prominence long after Eminem swore off hip-hop violence. Of course, Guwop soon found his hands full, dealing with the constant threat of Jeezy and his people. By the time Gucci actually wanted to “handle” Nick Cannon’s Eminem situation, Em was only coming out of rehab, riding the success of cult-favorite Relapse; in reality, Gucci would have been more likely to contend with Trick Trick, who many view as Detroit’s unofficial gatekeeper. Still, Gucci was not one to play. Unlike the majority of the rap game, the man actually has a body under his belt; instead of “Toy Soldiers,” we got “Truth.” By the time his eventual downfall and incarceration rolled around, his Autobiography details a man holed up in his studio, drugged out and packing a larger arsenal than Tony Montana. In hindsight, had the situation popped off in 2003, when 50 Cent, Young Buck, and the G-Unit soldiers rolled deep for the Shady cause, who knows what manner of violence might have ensued.
For the most part, Eminem has largely avoided sending subliminals at Gucci, though he has sent a few licks in Guwop’s direction. Reaches they may be, yet in hip-hop, we take what we can get. In “A Kiss,” Em makes direct mention of Gucci pushing a woman out of a moving car, and on “Forever,” he flips Gucci’s aforementioned “Pinocchio” reference with a well-placed warning shot. Yet perhaps the timing proved fortuitous for Gucci, who seemingly missed the cutoff period for a Kamikaze jab. We have yet to see post-prison Guwop’s energy, though shades have since certainly emerged. It wasn’t long ago that he posted, and swiftly deleted, a celebration of “Truth’s” brutal nature. Yet both rappers are indeed family men, and have put their reckless days behind them. Yet that doesn’t stop fans from wondering what might have been, had two disparate, yet seemingly unstoppable forces, engaged at the height of their recklessness.