It’s been nearly 20 years since Memphis native Yo Gotti -- then known as Lil "Yo" -- began detailing his street chronicles on record with the release of his 1996 debut album, Youngsta's on a Come Up. Like most underground artists with his background, the rhymer moved away from hustling and transitioned to become a well-known indie rapper with a string of independent projects including From Da Dope Game 2 Da Rap Game (2000), Self-Explanatory (2001), Life (2003) and Back 2 da Basics (2006).
Gotti will explain just how he made it all possible and reveal some tricks of the trade on his fifth studio album, The Art of Hustle, the follow-up to 2013’s I Am. The new effort features the 33-year-old in honest and raw form. Like usual, he's not holding back and giving fans lyrical access to his triumphs and struggles.
The Collective Music Group founder (his imprint through Epic Records) will deliver trap and club music to vibe to but also offer what he describes as “pain music,” in which he is “telling verbatim details” about his life and being raised in Memphis by female hustlers. Songs like “Mama” are dedicated to the women in his family who taught him the code of the streets -- six of his aunts have done time in federal prison -- allowing fans to further understand Gotti’s reasoning and respect for the ladies.
The Art of Hustle could be Gotti’s best work to date. He teamed with top producers, Cool & Dre, Metro Boomin, DJ Mustard and Drumma Boy to achieve a diverse sound. According to Gotti, this LP will provide something for fans old and new and satisfy those hip-hop heads who just enjoy good music. “Errrybody,” the lead single off the album featuring Lil Wayne and Ludacris, finds Gotti challenging rappers to be honest with themselves and as opposed to everyone having the same story, the same cars, the same jewels and so on. He's "bringing authenticity back" with this effort.
We caught up with Yo Gotti at the London NYC Hotel in New York City to discuss the new project and being the natural born hustler that he is, he decided to share some of his wealth. Whether you're trying to climb the ladder of success in the music business, score that big corporate gig or take your street smarts to the boardroom, he's got the answers to hustling smart. This is how Yo Gotti Puts You on the Path to Success With 10 Tips to Perfect Your Hustle.
Understand What You're Signing
“It is super important to know what you are getting yourself into when signing a deal. I learned that the hard way. I signed a couple contracts that I should have never signed in my life and it cost me. I signed a deal where I received $40,000 for signing to a record label for one of my first deals ever and ended up spending $500,000 of my own money to get out of that same contract. The label actually profited off me. But that was just when I was a youngin’ and I thought the plan was get in and you cool. Now I know trust nobody.”
“I think you could get a good accountant, but I think I am the best accountant for me. Can’t nobody count my money like I can count it. I hear a lot of stories… but I just come from the game where I just don’t see it, I don't get how people lose track. Numbers is numbers.”
“The streets taught me investments. It’s basic math. You learn two plus two is four, so I started getting into real estate. I know if I buy I house for $400,000, I sell it for $700,000 that’s $300,000 profit. For me, when I first started dabbling in real estate, it was the closest thing to the streets -- cut and dry. It’s like buying a pack for 50 and flipping and making profit. I could identify to that easy and it’s like when I was in it, I learned more about real estate and contracting and how to rebuild a home. So that’s another business, an investment to see more income.”
Separate Your Business & Personal Life
“I am one of those cats who doesn’t believe in putting everything from your personal life out. I come from the motto 'if they know less it’s better.’ As far as business and personal, you can look at in different ways. I believe in family, so if you have the opportunity to put your family on then you should do it. But I don’t believe just paying for everybody, to me that’s hurting them, you enable. One thing about me if you are [in my family] and you get a check from me, you are working for it.”
“It’s risk versus reward out here. If you do not take risks, what do you expect to get? It’s a gamble and I am a gambler. I am going to take that risk every time.”
“I think people may regret not following their instincts a lot. As an artist, no one can create your music but you. No one knows what’s going on in your head at the time. Sometimes you don’t even know, it just comes to you. But you go in and put the s--- together then everybody has an opinion. A lot of times, all you have are your instincts. Do you go with your gut or listen to what the people around you have to say? But I think music is about feeling, not just the sound. Is it going to make people move? How are they going to feel when they hear it? That’s something not every critic can point out.”
Don't Forget Your Day One Supporters
“Some people forget about the people who were down with them since day one, but then again some of those day ones forget about you. It goes both ways. Then some people look at it like how much do you owe them? If you were really there from day one keeping it real with me and I been keeping it real with you, there is not a dollar amount on that. The fact that we still around each other when I am broke or have money is enough, but it turns into a different story when people start putting a dollar amount on the wrong things."
Keep Your Inner Circle Small
“You have to do that. I don’t feel comfortable if there are two many ears around in the room when I am talking about business -- or anything for that matter. I don’t want anything I say to travel.”
“I feel like I learn s--- everyday because everyone around is doing something special or spectacular. I look at them and I want to know how they did it. I look into it. I want to know where they come from and more. Some people do not want information but I do. It’s important.”
Find a Mentor to Inspire You
“I have a lot of mentors. I have a few cats in Memphis in the streets that I have always looked up to. Who they are now may not be who they were back in the day; I mean regarding money and material things, but what they still have mentally I respect that. I can hit them now sometimes, if I am in a situation and I need to know what the big homie thinks because I respect their opinion. In the music industry I have mentors who don’t even help me directly. Like somebody like Jay Z or Diddy, who makes moves publicly that I can look at and study.
"I feel like they are mentors without being one-on-one and directly doing it. People like 50 Cent are also influential. I had the chance to talk to Fif and he taught me a lot about the game. He gave me so many tips.”