Hip Hop artist Yo Gotti opens up about Memphis success

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Memphis-born rap and hip-hop artist Yo Gotti will host his fifth annual Yo Gotti & Friends Birthday Bash in Memphis. For the first time, the show will be held at FedExForum.

Born Mario Mims, Yo Gotti knows there is no place like home after traveling the world.

"I'm a kid from north Memphis, I grew up in the Ridgecrest Apartments," Yo Gotti said.

He said he was surrounded by poverty and violence, and his childhood mentors were drug dealers.

"You hear teachers say you can be anything you want to be, everybody hears that in school, but you really halfway don't believe it," he said.

From the streets to the stage, music was his liberation.

At 14, he sold his own CDs as an independent artist. More than two decades later, that hustle has catapulted his music to the mainstream.

His 2013 album "I Am" debuted at No. 7 on the Billboard 200 chart and was Yo Gotti's highest charting and best-selling album at the time. It also earned him a 2014 BET Hip Hop Awards nomination for Album of the Year.

Yo Gotti's most recent album, "The Art of Hustle," debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 last year with the help of chart-topping single "Down in the DM."

In 2016, Gotti signed with rap mogul Jay-Z and Roc Nation, home to acclaimed recording artists like Rihanna, J. Cole, and Shakira.

"I never confused money with success," Yo Gotti said. "It's about growth. First the Orpheum, The Cannon Center, and now the FedExForum."

On the eve of the concert, WMC Action New 5's Jerica Phillips sat down during rehearsal to talk exclusively about how Yo Gotti's success is creating opportunities outside of hip-hop. Click here to watch an extended cut of Jerica's interview with Yo Gotti.

"We entrepreneurs; we own real estate in this city; we pay taxes in this city; we own restaurants in this city; we employing people in this city," Yo Gotti said.

His message to young fans is to stay focused and never let critics kill your dream.

"Use that same energy as motivation to prove them wrong," he said.

Past performers at his summer jam include Nick Minaj, Jeezy, and Meek Mill.

Lil Wayne is set to join Yo Gotti on stage this year, and he said to stay tuned for more special surprises.

"I have a lot of friends coming," he said. "They don't want to miss it."

For more information on Yo Gotti & Friends Birthday Bash 5, visit this link.

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