Live from the kitchen, its Yo Gotti himself. With his sixth album, Live From The Kitchen on the way, Gotti aka Mario Mims, 26, is a bonafide vet in the game, even though his face-time has been relatively short. His hit single, “5 Star” thrust him into the spotlight last Fall, and his own star has been flickering ever since. He gave Parlé some of his time out of his hustle to discuss his upbringing, how a natural-born hustler became a rapper, and the people chose him to be the “King of Memphis.” Our Yo Gotti interview…
Parlé: How’d you come up with the name Yo Gotti?
Yo Gotti: They gave it to me in the hood that was my nickname before this rap shit popped off. At around14, 15, 16. The older niggas gave me it, so when I started rappin’, I just kept the same name
Parlé: Where you from exactly?
Yo Gotti: North Memphis, Ridgecrest. You could call it the projects, apartment buildings, Section 8.
Parlé: What was it like growing up there? Upbringing?
Yo Gotti: It was like any typical hood. Niggas hustlin’, the hood life, it’s all the same, just different in different cities. It was typical.
Parlé: What were the upsides and downsides to living out there?
Yo Gotti: The upsides was, as hustlers, we got money, basically. The downsides, was, you playin’ with your life, you was playin’ with your freedom. Fortunately I did somethin’ different.
Parlé: Who’d you grow up listening to?
Yo Gotti: I listened to everything that was out. Independent shit, shit in Memphis, 8 & MJG, stuff like that.
Parlé: Do remember when you wrote your first rap?
Yo Gotti: Oh, hell naw. (laughs). That was a while back…
Parlé: So how did you start rapping?
Yo Gotti: Dudes in the neighborhood I grew up in who was in my crew when I was younger wrote the raps for people to hear. We would just be playin’ around. Then other people would go rappin’ after him. He had wrote me four bars, and I just took to how he wrote those four bars, then I wrote my own rhymes the same way he did those four. I took the four bars he wrote and that’s how I said them.
Parlé: With five albums out already, would you consider yourself a rookie artist?
Yo Gotti: Nah, I been in this shit for a minute. But I’m still grinding, still tryin’ to get to the next level.
Parlé: What’s the next level for you?
Yo Gotti: The top. I aint get to the top yet…
Parlé: Is Rap the only genre you listen to?
Yo Gotti: Naw, but Rap is the only shit I’ll buy a CD for.
Parlé: So would someone be surprised if they heard Yo Gotti listening to a Taylor Swift record?
Yo Gotti: (Laughs) Shit, I would.
Parlé: I can dig it…How did you meet Gucci?
Yo Gotti: A few years back, me and him went to the studio and knocked out a couple songs, and we just stayed in touch.
Parlé: Did you two ever consider each other competition?
Yo Gotti: Naw, we was never competition, just two niggas doin’ the same. We just wanted to do music and make money.
Parlé: How did you get in contact with Cash Money?
Yo Gotti: They contacted me, a few years back. I got a deal wit TVT Records, and Cash Money gave me a situation where I could put out other artists.
Parlé: How did you get in contact with J Records?
Yo Gotti: When TVT went bankrupt, and I got out the contract, everyone knew I was a free agent. J Records contacted me. They understood where I was takin’ my shit.