Q&A: Yo Gotti 

Memphis Rapper

Yo Gotti possesses more than a baby face and a mouthful of platinum: The Memphis rapper, born Mario Mims, has a propensity for catchy rhythms and nimble rhymes. Delivered in his thuggish drawl, battle cries like "Full Time," "Dirty South Soldiers," and the infamous "Shawty" help to define Memphis' now sound. Yo Gotti's third full-length album, Back 2 Da Basics, was released on TVT Records in May.

-- By Andria Lisle

Flyer: First things first: There was a shoot-out at your birthday party at the Plush Club. What happened?

Yo Gotti: I was in another part of the club when it happened, so I don't really know what went down. But I think it was a typical club thing, some people gettin' into it.

Is there any truth to the rumor that you've relocated to Houston?

I got a house in Atlanta, and I'm in the making of getting a house in Houston -- but I still live in Memphis, in the Collierville/Cordova area now. I'm buying houses because I'm traveling a lot. I'd spend the same money on hotel rooms.

You were also enrolled at Southwest tennessee Community College at one point.

I was studying business for like a semester. I started traveling a lot, so ...

On your third album, Life, you rap, "All I ever wanted to do live the life/Money, drugs, cars, clothes, hoes/Bricks, paints, pounds of dro fa sho." Are you living that life now?

It's bigger than that. It's all about taking care of your family. Success is about taking care of your people, you know what I mean? And about the streets, which is what I rapped about on "Shawty."

"Shawty" was the biggest song in Memphis when it dropped in the summer of 2004.

"Shawty" got me my deal with TVT and my situation with Cash Money. We cut it in one night [at Memphis' Ardent Studios]. The thing that's exciting about that song is that it went exactly how we planned.

Your song "Full Time" was featured in Hustle & Flow. What did you think of the movie?

It's good that it was shot down here, and I was glad to be a part of it. But I don't see nobody come from Hollywood and do Memphis 100 percent perfect. We don't run around in no Caprice box Chevy with a bad paint job; we run around in Benzes. Our clubs don't look like no houses. Otherwise, I think they got Memphis across.

TVT kept pushing back the release date for Back 2 Da Basics. How did that make you feel?

When you're dealing with a major company, you've got their schedules and dates to contend with. On my end, I been recorded, I been ready. I mean, sure, I understand how it is, but it can be frustrating. I'm used to doing what I want when I want, so all this is new to me.

The New York Times reviewed your last mixtape, North Memphis Survivor, and the new album. That's pretty high-profile stuff.

I heard about it, but it didn't mean nothing to me.

What's next?

Maaaan, I'm still dreaming! If I've done good, I'm gonna take that next artist and bring him up.

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