Insight, integrity and influence. Yo Gotti has become one of hip-hop’s most respected street griots just by doing what he’s always done; speaking the truth on his records and being relentless with serving his product. This fall he commences a brand new business venture with the release of his CMG/Epic records debut I Am.
“I Am is an adlib I started using a few years ago,” the Memphis magnate began to explain. “It fits perfectly. I am real, I am a hustler, I am the streets, I am a business man, I am a father, I am a brother, I am success.”
In the 13 years since he’s started recording professionally, Gotti, has been one of hip-hop’s remarkable success stories. While some of his peers have basked in the mainstream spotlight with commercial success, the chiseled street King has become the people’s champ; amassing millions of fans and dollars, largely with his independently released magnum opuses such as the Cocaine Muzik series. With I Amhowever, Gotti says he’s finally found the perfect partner to distribute his music widely to the world.
“I feel good about the partnership with Epic,” Gotti says about his joint venture for his CMG imprint. “All the work I put in, has gotten me to this point where I can elevate my career and the other artists I signed. I had a few deals with major labels, it just took me a while to find the right partnership. The other deals I had, the companies weren’t on the same page with me so it wasn’t worth it.”
The I Am rollout commences with the thunderously thumping club anthem ‘Act Right,’ which features one of Gotti’s closest friends in the industry and multiple time collaborator Jeezy. West coast rapper, YG is along for the ride as well.
“This one is the perfect soundtrack for that nightlife,” Gotti says with a grin of the record. “I felt it was great to launch my album. ‘Act Right,’ can mean whatever you want it to mean really. When I recorded ‘Act Right’ I was just in that I ain’t turning down for nothin mood “trying to break a record like a DJ” I felt like I was at the club turnt up to the max in every element, swag, bottles, women….just everything. It’s a feel good party record!”
The high class revilement continues on “Going Down,” with Grammy Award winner T.I.
“You know, making songs with people like Jeezy and Tip, it’s just natural Gotti continues. They’ve been good friends of mine for quite some time and there’s always been mutual respect both professionally and personally. ‘Going Down,’ we just had fun with it, using different flows, riding on the beat. Tip is always going deliver, so you know I had to come with my best. It’s that party vibe, that will be an anthem for years to come.”
Other hip-hop royalty included on the project is Lil Wayne, who raps “Pray if I ever come out the sky, I’m lightning rod” on “Turnt Up On My Haters.’
But even with the high powered cameos, I Am’s most poignant moments come when Gotti is alone, reflecting on his life’s hardships. “He gives searing commentary on “Ghetto America,’ while “Pride To The Side” details his personal relationships with his girl that led to betrayal and one of his best friends getting addicted to drugs and stealing money.
“That’s a personal joint,” Gotti details. “If you follow my music, you’ll know what I like to do. My favorite music to me, where I’m best at is where I talk about what I’m going through, shit I seen. Records like ‘Pride to the Side,’ all them personal records are my favorites. It’s not tough to make em, because they are so real. It’s like you’re having conversations on the beat. It’s real life. Straight like that. People are going to accept it because it’s nothing I’m going through, they haven’t gone through or couldn’t relate to.”
Gotti was introduced to the Memphis underbelly almost from birth. Both of his parents were hustlers, so were several of his aunts and his older brother. He later followed in their footsteps.
“I remember our family, we had Benzes, six, seven cars, lived in nice areas. Then one day the police came in the house,” he remembers. “I was in second grade. They kicked in everybody’s doors at the same time, my grandma’s house, my aunties’ house, they shut the whole operation down. Like 25, 30 people’s houses. Next thing you know, we don’t have no cars, we don’t get new clothes or shoes, no food in the refrigerator. You notice the drastic change, but you don’t understand why.”
With most of his family in jail, and the remaining members struggling, the then youngster would find himself in the streets as a time to provide for his household. Slowly however, Gotti began to gravitate towards music, especially when he saw he could make music from it. In 2000, he released his first LP From The Dope Game To the Rap Game. Five years later, he got a production deal from Cash Money Records to bring new talent to the label. Meeting Cash Money’s Birdman, was a life altering experience, because it was then that it clicked that you can become wealthy from rap music. In 2012, Gotti released his first ever major label LP, Live From The Kitchen through Polo Grounds/RCA, , but soon decided to split ways with the company after his album was under shipped which resulted in an outrage from fans not being albe to find the album in common outlets. “I believe that if you’re not doing business in good faith that it’s best to move on”.
He chronicles his journey both with illegal and legal lifestyle on “Been Through It All.”
“I got hustling in my blood,” he added. “In any situation I can adapt. Although I’ve been making music for just about a decade and a half, I’m still young, but have that experience. It’s definitely exciting to give my loyal fans this great music and I’m also looking forward to showing my new following just how consistent I’m going to be.”