The act of hustling is simple. Get on your grind. Whether you’re flippin’ bricks, pencil pushing or hitting the books, do it like it counts when it matters.
The art of hustle, however, is anything but simple.
There’s rules to this shit and Yo Gotti wrote the manual with his eighth studio album, The Art of Hustle.
“What’s the strategy of being a successful hustler,” Gotti asks. “Your family is straight and being able to switch careers before you run out of time. You can make all the money in the world but if you don’t have the exit route you failed the art of hustle. The goal is to take care of your family forever and be stable.”
“I learned what I learned in the house….” —”Momma”
Gotti’s instincts as a hustler were honed right where he laid his hat: in the house. The Memphis rapper grew up in a home of hustlers, six to be exact. His mother and aunts pushed weight when he was a toddler and he saw things that weren’t the result of youthful indiscretions—trouble was on his front porch.
“When I get out of the bed and go in the kitchen, there’s bags of money in the deep freezer when you going for a popsicle,” Gotti explains. He details these experiences in “Momma,” an illuminating story where he recounts his upbringing. The emotional record is piercing with honestly and the vivid account Gotti delivers about his mother, aunts and the stakes they faces.
“I’m fighting pain, fame, I never wanna change….”—”The Art of Hustle (Intro)”
What a young Gotti witnessed wasn’t just the glitz and glamour of hustling. He saw a first-hand account of the consequences: a cycle he viewed early, when his mother’s father was jailed and then his big brother after him. These incidents inspired him: to become shrewder, to focus on his path and forgo the shine. There was more value in the re-up and the process. It’s what created the work ethic that’s seen him release a wealth of independent projects, from the startling Youngsta’s On A Come Up to his most recent project, 2013’s I AM.
Now, with The Art of Hustle, he’s marrying both of his crafts, from his past and his future, in a vivid account that is soon to mark a classic album in his growing catalog for fan favorites, including his Cocaine Music mixtape series.
“I feel like I’m fighting to be the person who I wanna be, but I’m naturally the person that I am,” he says. “Dealing with the fame and the change and to be 100 percent positive and all those things. The majority of your life is what you know and how you move and how you respond to different things. That’s always one of my biggest challenges.”
With collaborations ranging from Meek Meek and Pusha T to Rico Love and production from Jim Jonsin, Metro Boomin’, DJ Mustard and more, it’s not hard to see how Gotti responded to expectations.
“Get Out Ya Feelings,” produced by Kane Beatz is a thrilling menace. Gotti’s flow is as direct as ever and a terror on the chorus with his whispered braggadocio.
With its airy and open production from Ben Billion$and Schife, the single “Down In The DM” flaunts an immediately catchy hook as Gotti drops bars about the “benefits” of private messaging on social media. “Down In The DM” immediately became a ubiquitous catch phrase as the song charted at #31 on Billboard’s Hot 100 and #1 on the Mainstream R&B/Hip-Hop chart. It properly set the stage for The Art Of Hustle in late 2015, cementing itself as a signature track.
Throughout the project, Gotti is clear-eyed and resolute, his intentions firm.
“If I wasn’t a rapper, the streets would get annoyed, cause nobody tell it like I tell it,” he raps on album’s introduction.
If you think about what Yo Gotti means to the game, “I’m one of the ultimate hustlers,” he says. “When you talking about number for number, dollar for dollar, guys with the awards and plaques, I can’t count anybody else’s pockets but I don’t think they’re too far from me.”
That stature has commanded the respect of fellow street generals like 50 Cent, Jeezy, Bun B and more.
And with The Art of Hustle, it’s come for Gotti to cash in his product and cash out on his steely tales in search of even more recognition.
“If you know the obstacles, you know the goal is to get out of the streets,” Gotti shares. “You know what comes with it…. you go to jail or the other thing.”
Or, if you’re Yo Gotti, you take the stage.