Yo Gotti is one of the few rappers who has achieved mainstream success after many years of underground activity and has maintained it well into the 2020s. Ten years after the North Memphis native debuted on cassette, he first touched the Top Ten of Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart with Back 2 da Basics (2006), and has since strung together Top Ten pop entries including I Am (2013), The Art of Hustle (2016), I Still Am (2017), and Untrapped (2020). While no one would classify the gruff street hustler as a pop-rapper, Gotti has often achieved gold and platinum status, counting “Down in the DM,” the number eight Hot 100 hit “Rake It Up,” and “Put a Date on It” among his biggest RIAA-certified singles. He released his 11th LP, CM10: Free Game, in early 2022.
Originally known as Lil Yo, Yo Gotti (born Mario Mims) made a name for himself during the ’90s when he was a teenager. Performing in and around Memphis with support from Kingpin Skinny Pimp and DJ Sound, he also issued the tape Youngsta’s on a Come Up, and in 1999 moved forward with his first album as Yo Gotti, From da Dope Game 2 da Rap Game, issued on his Inevitable Entertainment label. Gotti continued to expand the Inevitable catalog and struck a nationwide distribution deal with TVT, which enabled him to hit Billboard’s R&B/hip-hop chart for the first time with 2003′s Life, an album boasting appearances from Lil Jon and Lil' Flip. After having his track “Full Time” featured in the Memphis-based film Hustle & Flow, Gotti hit the Top Ten of the R&B/hip-hop chart in 2006 with Back 2 da Basics. A series of Cocaine Muzik mixtapes, along with the gold singles “5 Star” and “Women Lie, Men Lie” (featuring Lil Wayne) carried the rapper into the early 2010s.
A couple major-label deals resulted in greater commercial success during the rest of the 2010s and into the 2020s. Live from the Kitchen, Gotti’s second straight Top Ten R&B/hip-hop album — also a number 12 entry on the Billboard 200 — landed on RCA in 2012. Gotti then settled with Epic and put together several consecutive Top Ten Billboard 200 albums. This began in 2013 with I Am, highlighted by the gold singles “Act Right” and “I Know,” and continued through the end of the decade with 2016′s The Art of Hustle and 2017′s I Still Am, the former of which also topped the R&B/hip-hop chart. These two LPs included the double-platinum “Down in the DM,” the gold “Law,” and the triple-platinum Top Ten pop hit “Rake It Up” among their triumphs. During this hot period, Gotti also issued supplemental mixtapes — such as the high-performing White Friday (CM9), another Cocaine Muzik installment — and scored one of his biggest hits as a featured artist with Kanye West’s “Champions.” In 2019, Gotti notched another platinum smash when he and Lil Baby teamed up for “Put a Date on It.” The track was included on his fourth consecutive Billboard 200 Top Ten album, 2020′s Untrapped. He also paired with Lil Baby for the non-album track “Drop,” which arrived in June 2021. Gotti’s 11th album, CM10: Free Game, appeared in February 2022, preceded by the single “Cold Gangsta” featuring 42 Dugg and EST Gee. ~ Alex Henderson & Andy Kellman