B.G. and Mobb Deeps Prodigy joined forces years ago to create a song called, Young Black Entrepreneur. A lot of new artists claim to be just that; however, when you do a background check or examine current affairs, few actually measure up. Created in Memphis, comes an independent workaholic, Yo Gotti. Gotti swears he doesnt need radio or big attention, he just wants good production and hell sell.
In 2003, Yo Gottis Life was an independent heat-seaker that Gotti hopes to build upon. With Lil Jon and Pitbulls future with TVT Records in deep rumor talk, Yo Gotti and Ying Yang may be the future of the label. On the verge on releasing Back to Basics, with a mixtape in heavy rotation in the South, Yo Gotti speaks to AllHipHop.com about his formula, upcoming projects, his inspirations, plus why Three-6-Mafia is letting the people of Memphis down.
AllHipHop.com: So, how long have you been rappin? It seems like I have heard your name for years
Yo Gotti: I been doing s**t since I was 12 13, we started f**kin with Skinny Pimp on mixtapes or whatever, then went on to doing things myself – being my own boss, having my own people around me. Thats how I was able to start my own company and put out my own albums independently.
AllHipHop.com: So, as I understand it you are the CEO of I and E Records, correct?
Yo Gotti: We got myself, with Back to the Basics through TVT Records. We also got a production deal with Cash Money/Universal, which is Block Burnaz: the first act we took through that route and All-star out of Nashville, as a solo artistthe second act we taking through Cash Money/Universal. We still do the independent s**t through Select-O [Hits]. I got Blackout Squad, most all the rappers from Memphis, we do an album and I put it out independently. I got Gangsta Boo, La Chat, Gangsta Black, all these artists who are independent doing it big, something like the Dungeon Family in Atlanta. We got like three deals, last year we closed out three deals through our company.
AllHipHop.com: So, will you be releasing an album through Cash Money?
Yo Gotti: No, I am part of the Block Burnaz [group to be released through Cash Money]. De Niro, Tris Eye, and Shane.
AllHipHop.com: Who is Yo Gotti as an artist?
Yo Gotti: Yo Gotti as an artist, is a n***a come from these streets of North Memphis. Its real you feel me, you feel me, like my style the subjects that I am talking about. Its reality music, I know they are going to label it gangsta music, but its reality music. If I aint seen it or done it, or right there, somebody next to me; I aint saying it so, its real. Its the truth. We keep it as real as possible, but at the same time you make it bouncy, and you make it catchy.
AllHipHop.com: Listening to the Life album, your stories have a lot of depth, beyond the flash and bling. Do you feel you have a greater message?
Yo Gotti: Yeah, the message is you got cats like me that come out the streets, thats really, really in the streets. The Rap s**t didnt take me from the streets, I still deal with the same people. The people who came over me, the people I grew up with, I took them from doing what they was doing to passing out posters and making some money, there is always something positive that can come out of negative.
AllHipHop.com: What are you feeling right now?
Yo Gotti: I like Jay, I like 50. I like Young Jeezy, cause I know em. I knew him before he got hot. I listen to his music, and I respect realness. Everybody you listen to you dont know if they really live that life or not. You feel me like that; some people swear that they did. Jay-Z, 50 [and G-Unit]. I like 8 Ball and MJG too.
AllHipHop.com: What do you like about Jay-Z, that you can use towards your career?
Yo Gotti: How to paint a picture, you can paint a picture with your rap. I can take you from where you from and when you listen to my song, I know how to get so in detail with it to where you see what I am talking about. You dont just hear it, you feel me, its like you watching a movie. Some people you hear, you could be driving in your car and its like you watching a movie or something. As you listen to the words you daydream, you see it. Something close to something you done.
AllHipHop.com: As far as the monetary value of Hip-Hop, are you still chasin the paper?
Yo Gotti: Im still chasin the paper because I am a hustler, I was raised like that; I was raised to profit. Its easier now, as I am seeing it legitimate, more often lots of it.
AllHipHop.com: You say you are getting lots of it; have you found friends that turn foe and all the other things that come with success?
Yo Gotti: Ive seen all that, but to me, stuff like that is just part of life. Because where I come from, in the streets, aint nobody straight. If they aint family, and even some family you watching day to day. So, this rap game shit, its nothing. 98% of this s**t is fake, you handshaking with DJs. To me, that aint nothing in the real world, so that aint nothing I aint used to.
AllHipHop.com: So are you still attending college?
Yo Gotti: I went to Southwest College, once this Rap s**t got crazy, I couldnt keep up with it – missing too many days. I was going for business and radio broadcast. When I was little, I wanted to be a lawyer because of my history, a lot of people in my family went to jail. Not knocking college or school, but, right to this day, financially, I have seen more money than the average person that goes to school; but coming up in the real world where your momma got bills and your family needs, your dont have time to wait, not me! I cant stand to see my people suffer! I had to go get me, know what Im sayin, do what I had to do.
AllHipHop.com: I heard that radio was not really playing your music a lot when you first came out.
Yo Gotti: In our tri-state area our credibility up, we give them a song, they know we only producing that hot s**t anyway, so they f**king with us. But day one, they didnt play the music. Radio wasnt even part of our plan, wasnt part of our blueprint; the streets was our blueprint, man, we gonna get these CDs, sell em. We didnt even know the ropes about going to the radio. You dont need the radio to crack a buzz, you dont need the radio to make no money.
AllHipHop.com: Growing up in Memphis, who was your favorite rapper, when you were coming up?
Yo Gotti: 8 Ball and MJG on a big-scale. On a small-scale, Playa Fly, because he was with 3-6 in the beginning. There was 8 Ball/MJG and Three-6, but Playa Fly was the only one who stepped out on his own, as his own person, as one, and still successful around here selling 100,000 copies independently; that showed me that you could do it. You could do it on your own, you can be the one-man gang.
AllHipHop.com: What has been your worst experience with Rap?
Yo Gotti: Dealing with other artists, it aint nothing like the streets so much of this s**t is fake, counterfeit. When you got other artists in your city that play straight but they aint straight, but they dont be grown men about the situation, they try to sneak and do stuff. Just the fakeness of the people, being able to adapt to them.
AllHipHop.com: Do you have any particular situations, or you dont speak on that?
Yo Gotti: I aint sweating it like that you can check around here me and Three-6 dont get along like that.
AllHipHop.com: I notice you have a lot of respect for their music, from what I understand from listening to your music?
Yo Gotti: They deserve credit for what theyve done, I give credit where it is due, regardless of the situation. I am just on another mission, you feel me. Its certain things people didnt do around here right, thats one of the main reasons every time I am doing an interview people ask me, What happened to the Memphis music scene? or Do you think that Memphis got the credit it deserved? Of course you going to think it got the credit it deserved, I think that half of the reason is because of the artists. You shoot videos, but you in Atlanta shooting em, you in Miami shooting em, with Atlanta hats on, you feel me, like you got something to hide around here, like you dont want to show the world Memphis.
AllHipHop.com: So, your goal is to show the world what has not yet been displayed from Memphis.
Yo Gotti: Show the world Memphis, not a Rap group out of Memphis.