Memphis rapper Yo Gotti is on tour for his new album, "I Am," dropping Nov. 19. Credit: Epic Records
Yo Gotti played the historic Orpheum Theatre in Memphis in June.
The evening itself was also historic as well: It was the theater’s first hip-hop show.
“That was a very special moment for me to play at the venue and knowing the history of venue,” says Memphis native Yo Gotti, aka Mario Mims. “It was a very big deal to me, and on top of it we sold it out.”
The show was also an example of Yo Gotti’s DIY attitude.
“I booked the theater myself because it was my birthday and I do something big in the city every time,” he says. “Everybody was like, 'They don’t do rap there' and they don’t do this and they don’t do that. I have the type of attitude where if I’m trying to achieve something, I don’t believe in not trying. It took a lot of work but we got it done.”
Yo Gotti, the street-smart Memphis wrecker with a hard Southern drawl, gets it done. He’s about to embark on a new chapter in his career, as an Epic Records artist. “I Am,” his Epic debut featuring guest artists T.I., Ne-Yo, Wale, J. Cole and Meek Mill, drops Nov. 19. The video for “Act Right,” the album’s lead single featuring Jeezy and YG, has been viewed more than five million times on YouTube.
Yo Gotti is currently touring the country to promote the album.
“I’m on the road and there’s a lot of energy,” he says. “We get up close and personal with the fans, they get up close and personal with me. It’s a good ride.”
Yo Gotti’s career so far has been a good ride, if at times a little bumpy. He started out on the north side of Memphis and sold mixtapes on Beale Street. In the last 10 years, he’s released numerous mixtapes and also albums on TVT Records and RCA. His biggest hit to date is the 2009 single “Women Lie, Men Lie,” which featured Lil Wayne.
It’s all about bringing that little touch of the Memphis streets.
“I find a lot of my inspiration comes from the culture I come from, a lot of struggle and pain,” he says. “I think being from Memphis puts a lot of soul in my music.”
Yo Gotti with YG, Zed Zilla, Shy Glizzy and Ca$h Out
Philadelphia: Sunday, Nov. 10, 7 p.m. Trocadero Theatre 1003 Arch St. $22/$25 day of show 215-922-6888 www.thetroc.com
New York City: Tuesday, Nov. 19, 9 p.m. B.B. King Blues Club and Grill 237 W. 42 St. $25/$35 day of show 212-997-4144 www.bbkingblues.com