Yo Gotti gave local hip-hop fans the concert they deserved this past Sunday night at his annual birthday celebration. Known for guest appearances and multiple surprises, Yo Gotti and Friends Birthday Bash at Mud Island Amphitheater didn't disappoint, with Nicki Minaj, Meek Mill, O.T. Genasis, Dej Loaf, Shy Glizzy, Snootie Wild, Wave Chappelle, Zed Zilla, and Monica making guest appearances, in addition to DJ Paul and La Chat of Da Mafia 6ix joining forces with Yo Gotti on stage for the first time. Those following the Memphis rap game know that DJ Paul and Yo Gotti were once considered enemies, with Yo Gotti calling out Three 6 Mafia on his smash hit "That's What's Up" from the 2006 album Back 2 Da Basics. All beef seemed to be squashed when DJ Paul appeared on stage to do the classic Three 6 Mafia club jam "Who Run It," alongside Yo Gotti, as confetti shot out of cannons and fireworks exploded over the Mississippi River. Later, Yo Gotti called the on-stage performance "a victory for the whole city," and residents of every section of Memphis cheered loudly in appreciation of the unity the performance symbolized between two of the biggest rappers the city has ever produced.
When asked about holding the event at Mud Island, Yo Gotti (whose real name is Mario Mims,) said that a much larger venue was mandatory for this year's bash.
"We've done the Orpheum and the Cannon Center, and we sold them out so quick that I knew I had to go somewhere bigger," Mims said.
"I felt like there were thousands of people who were getting left out, and if you looked around tonight, you saw that we were top-to-bottom, and this place is twice as big as the other venues."
The rapper also acknowledged that he's come a long way since his days of playing all-ages clubs and places like the Plush Club.
"When I was coming up, I just wanted to perform anywhere. When I first heard my music in Denim & Diamonds, I was really excited about it," Mims said.
"The first time I ever performed at Cactus Jacks or The Premier was very special to me. I have always loved to get on the stage. It seems like Memphis rappers have to work twice as hard as everyone else to get some recognition, but if you keep grinding, it will happen for you."
Lil Boosie received one of the strongest receptions of the night (along with Monica), and after a few songs, Yo Gotti (who calls himself the King of Memphis), joked that Memphis might actually belong to Louisiana-based Lil Boosie. Other highlights included O.T. Genasis doing his mega-hit "CoCo," Monica's amazing vocals, and Nicki Minaj appearing on stage seemingly only to take selfies and wave to her fans, who were all collectively losing their minds. Backstage at Mud Island, Cîroc and Patrón seemed to be the drink of choice, along with enough blunt smoke to choke Snoop Dogg. Each rapper had an extensive entourage, who seemed to each have their own separate mini-entourages as well.
Lil Boosie might have had the biggest entourage of them all, with 30 or so people pouring out of a tiny dressing room before joining him on stage for multiple songs. Behind the stage sat Yo Gotti's white Lamborghini, though sadly it did not become a part of his performance in the same way it did at his Cannon Center Birthday Bash the year before. When asked how he will manage to top this year's festivities, Mims said he's already started planning.
"Im just going to keep grinding, keep trying to make it bigger than it was the year before. We don't have Summer Jam in Memphis anymore, so this is the new Summer Jam."
• O.T. Genasis had the best style of the evening, rocking a Day-Glo motorcycle jacket and at least three seriously impressive gold chains.
• Rappers really do drink as much Patrón as they say they do.
•Monica might have reached the peak of her career in the '90s with hits like "The Boy is Mine" and "For You I Will," but her vocal performance Saturday night was spine-tingling. She's also sold over 10 million records, so there's that, too.
•Yo Gotti's hype men deserve a bonus for keeping the crowd thoroughly crunk throughout the evening, as they rarely stopped moving during the show's five-hour duration.
• After the show, Nicki Minaj went to Blues City Cafe to pick up a to-go order, and was immediately swarmed by fans. Minaj handled the fanfare with ease, taking selfies with her fans and posing for multiple photos before getting back in her SUV.
• Memphis showed that it could hang with the big dogs in terms of getting premier hip-hop talent, which is amazing for our city's entertainment industry. Don't be surprised if Yo Gotti's next birthday bash is in the FedExForum, or better yet, the Mid-South Coliseum.