Black Music Month: A day in the life of rapper Yo Gotti

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - The most popular emerging rapper in Memphis will soon release his first album under a major label after a decade in the rap world.

Yo Gotti's star is still rising fast, but his lyrics have drawn criticism from many.

A typical day for rapper Yo Gotti is far from typical.  He grew up on the streets of North Memphis, but these days he cannot even get a haircut without a fan waiting in the wings.

Yo Gotti is all over the internet and the charts.  He has become a hit on Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and Twitter.  You may know his hit songs, such as 5-Star Chick and Women Lie Men Lie, featuring multiplatinum rapper Lil' Wayne.

Gotti just finished his first album on a major label, J Records, and even performed at last year's Memphis Madness at FedEx Forum because several University of Memphis recruits are big fans.

"I believe in a team," Gotti said.  "An army can always go farther than one soldier."

After a haircut, Gotti hopped in his signature white Lamborghini and headed to Ridgecrest Apartments.

"I remember a teacher told me that when I was in elementary school, anything you want to be you could be," Gotti said.  "I didn't believe it at the time, went in one ear and out the other.  I think I'm living proof you can be that."

His arrival at Ridgecrest Apartments is a homecoming.

"This building right here is where I recorded my first verse at," Gotti said.

Gotti has faced scrutiny for rapping about his days as a drug dealer and for dubbing his scratchy voice, gritty lyrics and Memphis street anthems as "Cocaine Muzik."

"Scrutiny comes with being successful," Gotti said, "just like hate comes with it."

Born Mario Mims, at 13 years old, Gotti ran with an older crowd.  He said they named him Gotti, possibly after crime boss John Gotti.

"It doesn't mean because I'm a hustler I know how to do something negative," Gotti said.  "I know how to hustle music, I know how to hustle real estate housing.  I'm a hustler."

Gotti started out distributing his own music independently with the help of his friends and family.

"I was selling CDs at school, down on Beale Street, on the road," Gotti said.

Despite his cult following, Yo Gotti still said he has not made it.

"I feel like I've got an opportunity to make it," he said.  "I feel like the door's open, but I still have to make my way through it."

Gotti's caravan of 20 cars then headed from Ridgecrest Apartments to Cook Convention Center, where he was set to be on stage for the Dub Car Show.

Gotti arrived for his performance and managed to fit in an outfit change.

"Just a little Gucci swag," he said.  "Gucci t-shirt, shoes, belt, a whole bunch of jewelry."

Peppa Williams of Mouth of Tha South Management described Gotti's lyrical style.

"You have preachers and pulpits that preach sermons.  That's the way they perceive life," Williams said.  "Gotti grew up in Ridgecrest Apartments.  He grew up in an urban area so he's preaching his reality music."

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