Gucci Mane Is In The 'Zone'; Teams Up With Waka Flocka Flame; Aims To 'Superserve' Core Fans

Gucci Mane, who just released another full-length street album, "The Return of Mr. Zone 6," on March 22, has teamed with fellow Brick Squad rapper Waka Flocka Flame for a joint album-and hopes to have another proper album hit stores later this year. But lately most people don't ask the rapper about his ambitious music plans: He fields a lot more questions about the large ice cream cone newly tattooed on the right side of his face.

"Everybody wants to know why I got the tattoo, did it hurt, what it means," says Mane (real name: Radric Davis). "I just tell them it's my trademark. It represents being the coldest in the game."

Mane, 31, hopes that "Mr. Zone 6," the Atlanta artist's first release since getting the eye-popping ink in January, will return the focus to his music and away from his recent personal exploits. Since last fall's release of Mane's third studio album, "The Appeal: Georgia's Most Wanted" (which has sold 155,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan), Mane has been arrested twice. He was then admitted to a mental health treatment center in January. (A rep for the rapper says Mane was admitted for an evaluation but wouldn't provide further details.)

Mane notes that recording "Mr. Zone 6" from December to February was a therapeutic process. "The past few months are in this album," he says. "I work through my problems. I work through my pain. So when I was going through all the things I was going through . . . I just stayed in the studio. It definitely helped me. The studio is where I go to just let everything out. I can go and just speak my feelings and what's on my mind-just get it off my chest."

"Mr. Zone 6," which features guest spots by Waka Flocka, Birdman, Master P and Wale, features a darker tone than Mane's playful hit singles "Wasted" and "Lemonade." Tracks like "Trick or Treat" and "Reckless" showcase nihilistic rhymes over grimy beats. Instead of releasing the album as a free mixtape online, Warner Bros. Records issued "Mr. Zone 6" to online retailers and local music outlets-similar to the rollout for previous Mane releases "The Burrrprint 2" and "Trap-a-Thon." The soft retail release has worked for Mane before: "Burrrprint" debuted at No. 19 on the Billboard 200 last May.

"This album was completely about superserving his core versus broadening the fan base," marketing director Shari Bryant says. "We focused more on mixshow promotions and viral activities to help spread the word on this album."

Mane has released music videos for the "Mr. Zone 6" tracks "24 Hours," "I Don't Love Her" and "Mouth Full of Gold," and will perform at San Diego's Club Decos on March 27. He's already eyeing a spring release for "The Ferrari Boys," which will equally showcase Waka Flocka Flame and himself and feature production from Drumma Boy, FATBOI and Shawty Redd. Since last October, Waka Flocka Flame's first Asylum/Warner Bros. album, "Flockaveli," scored a top 10 debut on the Billboard 200 and spawned the hit "No Hands," which peaked at No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Mane says "The Ferrari Boys" is going to be "the hardest album of the year. The songs are so clever, the beats are so slamming, and the lyrics are just so aggressive. There's so much energy that we bring to the studio. Nobody's going to be able to top what me and Waka are coming out with."

As for the follow-up to "The Appeal," Mane has already pegged it with a title that's appropriate, considering his new tattoo. "I'm titling my new album 'The Ice Cream Man,' and it's dropping probably this fall," he says. "I've got a very busy year."