Frannie Kelley

Gucci Mane has had a roller coaster of a career. Born Radric Davis, he grew up in his grandfather's house in a small town in Alabama. He made his name in Atlanta, over time becoming a central figure in Southern rap and a mainstay on commercial radio. But his successes were interrupted by time in jail.

Gucci Mane's smile makes you feel like there's still some good in the world. He's really earned it, and that thing is infectious.

Note: NPR's Audio for First Listens comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify playlist at the bottom of the page.

Last year you heard Terrace Martin's work on YG's album, Ninth Wonder's compilation, Big K.R.I.T.'s Cadillactica and, just this week, a new song by Kendrick Lamar, called "The Blacker The Berry." In the space of less than six months in 2014, the LA-based producer and multi-instrumentalist also put out a full solo album, 3Chor

T-Pain's fingerprints are all over pop and R&B and hip-hop. He wasn't the first musician to use Auto-Tune as an instrument — he noticed it on a Jennifer Lopez remix, and remembers "Deep" well — but it was, as he says, his style. For a while, in the mid-2000s, he lived at the top of the charts. He dominated that brief moment of our lives when ringtones were a thing.