You all know who Jay-Z and Diddy are, but there's an up-and-coming mogul in hip-hop that you probably haven't heard about just yet, Yo Gotti. A rapper and businessman out of Memphis, TN, he has been climbing his way to the top for 13 years, and it is finally his time to shine. Having just signed a joint venture for his label CMG with Epic Records, a fashion endorsement deal through Rocksmith Clothing, and music consistently at the top of the charts, he's someone to really pay attention to. I sat down with him this past week just to get some insights into his ascent to success, and loved what he had to say.
When most people think of hip-hop, the places that come to mind would be New York and California. Of course, New York is the birthplace of hip-hop, and California has released countless legends, but Yo Gotti believes that his Memphis, TN upbringing has been very similar, saying, "The culture I grew up in is similar to New York or Compton. It prepared me for the cutthroat of the business. You always need to be on top of things, with your I's dotted and your T's crossed." And he's definitely been someone who's been handling his business well, having been involved in hip-hop for over 13 years and counting.
Anytime the name of a hip-hop mogul comes to mind, you always are able to associate them with their record labels. Jay-Z is paired with Rocafella Records, Diddy with Badboy Records, and now Gotti just signed a joint venture with Epic Records for his label, CMG. When asked why he chose to sign with Epic Records for his label, Gotti spoke on the fact he felt it was the best place for him for a variety of reasons, citing:
There was a lot of deals available, but this one was special because it was all about teamwork for me. Teaming up with L.A Reid and Epic, we get to collectively work together as one. My staff and their staff have the same goals. I only recently met L.A Reid. I was very familiar with what he's done in his career, but had never met him. I was very excited to be able to though.
Of course, L.A. Reid is known as a legend in hip-hop circles, having brought music figures including Justin Bieber, Rihanna, Kanye West, Usher, OutKast, TLC, Toni Braxton, Avril Lavigne, Paula Abdul, Pink, Ne-Yo, Rick Ross, Young Jeezy, Ciara and Dido to multiplatinum sales. It's obvious that L.A. Reid is someone who can spot talent, and that must be why he's working with Yo Gotti now.
Typically, moguls also have their own clothing lines, such as Rocawear and Sean John, and with his newest venture with Rocksmith clothing, Gotti has started on that path. Gotti says that this is just the beginning of his plans in the fashion world, and says he's looking to release his own line in 2014. Other than music and touring, Gotti also creates income from real estate in Memphis, both commercial and residential, as well as investments in small businesses in his city. While doing all this, he still makes time to give back. In fact, he feels that it's very important to organically want to give back to the people, and better their situations, especially if you've become successful because you understand the struggle it takes. Gotti personally helps schools in his neighborhood the most because he feels education is very important, and invests in local businesses to help create jobs.
I asked Gotti what he thought the best piece of advice he could offer to anyone reading this, and he said:
I think you can't be afraid to work. You can't let everyone do the work for you. I will hang the posters, promote, write, and make the calls to book shows, if necessary. You have to be willing to do what everyone else is. No work is under you. If you can ask someone else to do it then you should be able to do it too.
I couldn't agree with him any more, and every reader can take a lesson from that advice.
This past year was a great one for Yo Gotti. He released his album, I AM, which has been doing well on the charts, his joint venture with Epic Records for his label CMG is complete, he's working with Rocksmith Clothing, and is looking to release his own clothing line later this year. Also, he's focusing on starting the process of getting a new album in the works. It seems like anything Yo Gotti puts his hands on turns to gold, so definitely keep your eyes peeled for what he has in store for the future, because he's a rising star.