(AllHipHop Features) Geechi Gotti carries the West Coast battle rap scene on his back like a sprawling tattoo.
His accent drips the lazy gait of a gangsta’s tongue. He walks cool like he is not in a hurry, but there is a silent intensity and urgency in his presence. Born six weeks and five days before NWA dropped Straight Outta Compton, he embodies the community of his birth with the prideful tribalism that we’ve seen in Kendrick Lamar, The Game, YG, DJ Quick and King T. He personifies the best attributes of the town’s most beloved Hip-Hop figure, Eazy-E.
This is a heritage that he is acutely aware of but never thought was his to grasp.
“When I grew up Compton was lit for sure,” Gotti shares.
When asked about artists like NWA, and the group’s impact on the very streets that molded Champion’s “Champion of The Year” for two years in a row, he admits that Eazy-E was the member that he connected to most.
“In NWA, my favorite member was Eazy-E, off the rip. Even when he wasn’t with them anymore, the neighborhood that I am from still rocked with Eazy. So, I was a fan too. I was young, but at the same time, I was listening to the music. I understood what it was about.”
“And Eazy was getting big money.”
For most kids that grew up in the late 80s and 90s, when money, gangs, and drugs flooded the communities like never before — everything about how Eazy moved had to be attractive to the young Comptonian.
“He also had the real Compton swag. Not to knock the rest of them, but Eazy epitomized what a Compton dude was supposed to look like in the streets … at least in my eyes.”
A young Gotti was watching.
Not only Eazy-E but the other men that decorated his hood like stop signs. The ways of his hood, traditions of the land, early on he adopted and applied those survival skills. Thus making him such a brilliant rapper.
Over the last six or seven years, people have come to know the wordsmith for his authentic gangsta talk. No one does it better. There might be folk who have been vetted in the streets just as long as he has … and might even wear the same flag … but got them.
One reason is that Gotti does not try to convince people that he is a “G.”
Nicknamed “Baby,” if you are ever wondering if his version of history matches up with the folklore of his hood (located between Central Avenue to Wilmington, and Greenleaf and Alondra Blvd), just remember his slogan: “when it’s real, y’all can tell, y’all can see it in they eyes.”
“Growing up in Compton, you kinda learn to stay in the cut and be more observant; slow to speak and quick to listen.” He says that this is a lesson that he lives by because the wrong move can “put you in a position that you probably wouldn’t put yourself in.”
Gotti says that not paying attention can cost you. He knows. The wrong moves almost cost him everything.
It is no secret that Gotti was in the streets. Despite the best efforts of his birth family, the street family that he found as a Crip had a magnetic draw over him. But it is also no secret … that he is a smart man. He knows how to get money, he reads, he is articulate and his assessment of situations can be lighting fast. Like an Eazy-E or even a Malcolm X, his swift thinking and knack for vocabulary made him a leader even before he knew he was. It also served, unbeknownst to him, as his segue into rap music.
Because let’s be clear … he was good in the streets … rap music was the last thing on his mind.
“When I was still in high school, I recorded music in my friend’s closet. He had a little studio set up and he took it seriously. He was making beats and all that back then. He was pushing me like ‘Man, you dope. Keep it going.’ I wasn’t taking it that seriously. But as years went by and people started rocking with it, I started to believe that there might be something in this.”
After graduating high school, the emcee went to college. First, he attended Compton College, and then he transferred to Grambling State in Louisiana. I went there for like a year.”
His biological family supported him in going to the HBCU.
As a student, he joined the ranks of other celebrity GSU Tigers like E-40 and Erykah Badu. While there, he was working toward his Bachelor of Science degree, majoring in Criminal Justice. He didn’t know what he might do with it. People recommended to the teen that he take the major so that his probation officer would be impressed and get him off his paperwork quicker.
At the school, he also was exposed to a different influx of rap music that helped develop that elite pen that has made him one of the most feared rappers on the Ultimate Rap League.
“I like West Coast rappers, but the music I was listening to was down South or East Coast dudes.” Gotti explains, “I was listening to Cassidy and all his mixtapes. Cam’ron is one of my favorite rappers. Jadakiss. I was listening to Project Pat and the Hot Boyz. Three 6 Mafia and all that. That’s kinda where my style comes from. I emulate that street talk, but at the same time I also keep it lyrical.”
The year was 2006, he was enjoying himself as a rising sophomore and going home to Compton for the break. While home for the summer, he caught a burglary case and that stopped him from returning to the historically Black college.
“I was like, now I got to take stuff seriously. I’m sitting in jail. I am like ‘I was in school doing my thing.’ Now, I have to figure stuff out.”
Remember, the lesson Gotti shared earlier about one wrong move could cost someone everything? He slowly earned that lesson honestly.
“Just that fast, I kinda messed everything up. Before I even went to college, I was in juvenile. Even my family getting me into that school was a blessing and for me to come back and mess up again … felt like I was letting my family down.”
“I was kind of young and I didn’t take it seriously. But I did learn some things, even though I did not recognize the whole magnitude of the situation.”
“That whole time, I always felt like I could rap.”
That very thing that he took for granted in High School — that past time that he thought had no value and was just something to do — actually became his life-line. Forget the money and the fame that he is experiencing now, this was the Kairos moment that opened his universe all the way up. It was the birth of Ruthless Records for Eazy-E. It was the finding of the Nation of Islam for Malcolm X. It was the universe’s gift that saved him from himself.
“I started getting into my music heavy. I am putting out songs in my neighborhood around this time and I am getting my buzz. People are starting to know me.”
The music became his redeemer. Then in 2013 or 2014, another friend and battle rapper named Crown Vic took him to Kevin Parks’ league, The Riot. One day, Parks threw a battle and lined up an opponent for Gotti. He told him that the winner would get a purse of $100 and being the hustler that he is … he primed himself to snatch the bag. That win was on the humble, but Parks saw something … that millions of fans have come to see … Gotti is a god in this space. Parks booked him with King Rico as Gotti’s first on-camera battle.
Gotti battled a rapper named Yak the Rippa and in the audience was the URL talent scout, Norbes. Shortly after that, the rapper did his first PG and within no time he found himself on a larger stage battling Cave Gang’s assassin Ave on the URL Traffic card.
“When they responded to my first haymaker, that sh*t was crazy. That’s when I knew that I arrived. They were listening to me now. I’d say some sh*t and they’d catch it all. I said my slogan, ‘You’ze a B*tch’ and they screamed. That’s when I knew that they f*cked with me.”
Geechi Gotti’s slogan “You’ze a B*tch,” is one of those trademarked sayings that you just remember. It packs just as much of a punch as Shotgun Suge’s “What’s Your Life Like?”, John John da Don’s “Multiple Choices” or Hitman’s “Remixes.” It actually has just as much power as his NOME X opponent, Aye Verb’s “Showtime.” But how did he come up with it?
“The first battle that I used it in was against this battle rapper called 65 Hunnit. I used it on him because of his image as a bully. That was my whole goal: to make him look like he wasn’t one. ‘You big to them but when you battle me you’ze a b*tch to me.’ I used that in all three rounds and people f*cked with it. So, I kept it.”
And they have been not only f*cking with the slogan but him as a battle rapper.
He is one of the few in his generation (who in a few short years) has not only graced big stages but has a resume of competition that could easily match any first-generation vet.
Since his debut on the Ultimate Rap League, a little over 3 and a half years ago, he not only counts 2 COTY under his belt (a feat that no other battler in history has ever done), The Source Magazine’s “Battler of the Year,” BET Hip-Hop Awards, but has faced the following names: Glueazy, JC, T-Top, K-Shine, Marv One and Quest McCody in a tag team with B-Dot, Shotgun Suge, Rum Nitty, Arsonal, Tsu Surf, K-Shine (again) and DNA with Rum Nitty as his partner in the West Coast supergroup “EFB,” and he went in front of the face of URL, Tay Roc.
He has appeared on Traffic 3, Born Legacy Supreme 2, Initiation, Summer Madness 7 and 8, The Strike 2.5, SMACK Vol. 3, 4, and 5, Born Legacy 6 and 7, NOME 9, Summer Impact, Lock Down, Royalty, Genesis, Quarantine Sterilized, and now he is on the biggest stage of his life at NOME X.
— RUIN YOUR DAY (@AvocadoIsGod) June 29, 2020
NOME X is a remarkable accomplishment for the lyricist. The card will feature pioneer rapper Loaded Lux against Tsu Surf, Tay Roc against Daylyt, John John da Don will stand before Ill Will and Th3 Saga and Mike P will dance. Gotti goes up against the Island G*d Aye Verb, who is probably the only rapper ever to bloody the lips of both Mt. Rushmore rappers, Murda Mook and Loaded Lux.
As the story goes, Gotti called all the vets out but Aye Verb, being the warrior that he is, stepped up and responded.
“I have had some wars as a battler. I can’t even pick who was the most difficult. Everyone I have battled has always brought their best and I don’t see Aye Verb bringing nothing but his best.”
“What’s deadly about Verb is that he is a vet. It is always deadly when you are battling those dudes who have been in the game that long. They know how to win. They have all fought different types of wars. I can’t say I’m going to be something that he has never seen before because he has seen a lot of different styles of battling. That is always dangerous. Plus, he is a rapper. He is a rappity rap type of dude. In a small room environment, he might excel.”
Geechi Gotti knows that this is one of those battles that over ten years ago when he was watching old SMACK DVDs … when he was trying to figure out his life … he would have never thought would be possible. Having Smack White as a friend and mentor, reacting to his bars while he is rhyming on stage, celebrating him as one of the best rappers in the history of battle rap, was something he never thought was possible. The stats were against him. Compton streets knew the right way to call his name. And the criminal justice system was waiting with a warm bed. But the salvific spirit of Hip-Hop won again.
“The streets were supposed to have me. All kinds of hood sh*t. But God changed all that (going to jail, getting shot, that really wasn’t about nothing positive). Today, I definitely look at it as a blessing. I have been able to live and grow. I am a testament to that you can overcome any little thing that might not come in your favor. You can always refocus yourself. We all be having a bad vibe when we lose focus and start doing other stuff. Take it seriously and make it worth your wild.”
The Ultimate Rap League’s NOME X will be on Saturday, July 11th at 5 pm, exclusively on Caffeine.TV.