Keyshia Ka’oir didn’t expect to fall for rapper Gucci Mane. She didn’t even expect to work with him.
But more than seven years after meeting on the set of Mane’s “911 Emergency” music video— and entering a relationship marked by multiple prison sentences for Mane — the beauty mogul and platinum-selling artist are set to tie the knot in a ceremony to be broadcast on Tuesday for the first part of “Gucci Mane & Keyshia Ka’oir: The Mane Event,” a 10-part series on BET.
With final preparations for the nuptials underway, Ka’oir, 32, says her walk down the aisle will cap off an emotional journey.
The Jamaica-born, Florida-raised beauty first caught Mane’s eye in 2010, when she posed for XXL magazine’s “Eye Candy of the Year” feature after working as a model and video vixen for artists such as Timbaland.
At the time, Mane (born Radric Davis) was nearing the end of a prison term for probation violation — and conceptualizing the music video for his next mixtape single. The moment he flipped to Ka’oir’s revealing magazine spread, he was smitten.
“He called my publicist and was like, ‘Who is this new girl? Find her. I’m coming home soon. I have a new video [in the works], and I need you to book her,’” Ka’oir tells The Post.
Ka’oir initially hesitated to accept the offer. She was launching a beauty line — Ka’oir Cosmetics — and wasn’t sure if the gig suited the brand’s image.
“I did not want to do it at first, but I finally agreed,” she says. “They flew me out and paid me.”
Despite her businesslike attitude, Ka’oir says her chemistry with Mane was impossible to ignore.
“I think it was love at first sight,” she says. “He was nothing like I expected him to be. I was charmed and confused at the same time. I was expecting that straight gangsta hood s–t, and it was none of that.”
Mane — who had grown up in a rough Atlanta neighborhood and was notorious for being “the coldest in the game” — had a formidable rap sheet, with convictions for aggravated assault and cocaine possession. Ka’oir saw no sign of that bad boy during their first meetings.
“The man was a straight gentleman,” she says. “I was shocked. He opened the car door — held my hand and everything.”
Despite her attraction, Ka’oir kept things professional on set.
“He asked me for my number and I said, ‘No, I will see you tomorrow for the shoot,’” she says. “I did not give it to him because I did not know him. It made him think, ‘This girl is different.’”
After the video wrapped, the two coupled up, keeping their relationship mostly quiet. Individually, however, they were in the spotlight — for very different reasons. Ka’oir’s cosmetics empire grew, spinning off a line of exercise gear, Ka’oir Fitness, in 2011. Meanwhile, Mane’s mental health seemed to deteriorate, resulting in a string of violent incidents with fans and, in 2014, a felony conviction for unlawful possession of a firearm.
Ka’oir remained at the couple’s home in Atlanta while Mane, now 37, was shipped off to a high-security federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind., to continue serving a three-year sentence (which began while he was awaiting trial). Ka’oir says she constantly batted away fans’ concerns during this stretch.
“I did have the question thrown at me many times: ‘Why are you with him?’ — both before and when he was locked up,” she says. “I would tell him about it. It did not bother me because they do not know the real Gucci, so I did not care.”
The couple stayed close during their time apart by following a daily routine together.
“We had a schedule where we worked out from 8:00 to 10:00. Then we’d shower, eat and get on the phone,” she says. “It did get lonely when it was my birthday, Christmas and Valentine’s. Those were my worst days. I would get down and tell him. He would feel bad.”
Mane was released from prison in May 2016 to begin a period of house arrest. Ka’oir took pains to make his confinement at home as comfortable as possible.
“He couldn’t leave the house for six months,” she says. I would cook for him every day — healthy stuff. Sunday was our cheat day: oxtails, jerk chicken, curry chicken, and rice and peas and coconut water.”
It was also during this time that Kanye West released the single “Champions,” with guest lyrics from Mane that raised questions about his relationship with Ka’oir.
“I don’t really f–k around / I gave my bitch $2 mil’ ’cause she stuck around,” Mane rapped on the track.
As a result, many fans speculated that Mane had paid Ka’oir to remain faithful while he was behind bars. The couple says the money was an investment in Ka’oir’s business, which went on to gross $6 million.
“He did not pay me to be faithful. That is just dumb,” she tells The Post. “Gucci is not that type of a man.”
She adds: “I did have more money for him when he came home, and I will just leave it at that.”
By the time Mane’s house arrest ended last fall, he certainly wasn’t hurting for cash. Following a Nov. 22 halftime performance at an Atlanta Hawks game, he publicly proposed to Ka’oir on the team’s kiss cam with a diamond engagement ring reportedly weighing in at 25 carats.
“The kiss cam came on, and I was looking at him like, ‘You better kiss me. Don’t embarrass me.’ Instead, he stood up and proposed,” Ka’oir says.
On social media, some fans blasted Mane for not getting down on one knee, but Ka’oir says the old-fashioned move wouldn’t have worked on her.
“If he got on his knees, I would have been like, ‘Get the hell up,’ ” she says. “I did not want him on his knees.”
With critical buzz building for Mane’s 11th studio album, “Mr. Davis,” set to drop tomorrow, Ka’oir is modest about her positive role in the rapper’s reinvention.
“I have [been given] credit for Gucci’s style and swag now. But a man is a man no matter how good of a woman you are,” she says. “You cannot make him do nothing he don’t want to do. He was willing to change. These are things we both spoke about when he was locked up.”
In allowing the couple’s wedding to be filmed, Ka’oir says she hopes fans will get a peek at the pair as they truly are.
“It is something that I wanted to do, and Gucci just supported it. I always wanted a show showcasing my business because people get me misconstrued — ‘Oh that is the girl that is dating Gucci,’ ” she says. “I wanted to show the world that I am a businesswoman. That was always in my mind. Let me showcase my wedding as a classy event.”
The $1 million ceremony and reception promise to be memorable thanks to a star-studded 200-person guest list, two planned dress changes, and a style code designed to keep everyone’s attention on the bride (“I don’t want my guests to come with blond hair unless they are white,” she says).
But for Ka’oir and Mane, the day’s deeper meaning is most important.
“We’ve become best friends,” she says. “Our respect for each other is mutual, and I think we love each other more and more every day.”
Could children be far behind?
“I want kids, of course. I don’t know how [many] I want, but I am not getting pregnant right now,” Ka’oir says. “For now, I am going to focus on my man, the business second, and everything else will flow after.”
Source: NY Post (Tashara Jones)
Photo Credit: HipHopDX
Photo Credit: SOHH.com