I’ll admit my own bias, I’ve been anxiously anticipating this album since I first heard Yo Gotti’s “Full Time” last year. Even with the actual album having arrived I still find it difficult to stray from having that one track on repeat. But thankfully, “Back 2 Da Basics” is filled with enough quality music to give me reasons to venture away from Yo Gotti’s super-catchy lead single. The Memphis veteran may not be familiar to many and “Back 2 Da Basics” will probably not be the album to break him through the mainstream, but none of that is Yo Gotti’s fault. Having dominated the Memphis underground, which is no easy task, Yo Gotti’s mainstream dreams lie in the hand of TVT records, a label that is woefully inept at pushing any type of rap act on its own. The label has had much success as of late in the rap field with Lil’ Jon and the Ying Yang Twins, but without the larger than life personas and self promotion possessed by the aforementioned acts Gotti’s quality music will probably fall on deaf ears.
Yo Gotti’s much delayed album already has had 3 monstrous singles out which for some reason failed to catch. “Full Time” was released at some point last year and features a catchy slithering beat from Swizzo. “Gangsta Party” finds Carlos Broady of Bad Boy fame manning the boards and delivering a soulful and sweet beat that’s laid back while still being a clear party track. The latest single delivered to the radio is ” I Got Them,” which features enough bass to knock pictures off the wall thanks to Fate Eastwood’s beat. Even with heavyweight guests like Baby, Lil’ Wayne, Eightball, and Bun-B on two of the singles, Gotti’s airplay isn’t where it should be. Outside of the lead singles, Yo Gotti delivers plenty of material worth hearing and improves on the foundation he laid with his TVT debut, “Life.” Those not familiar with Gotti’s style shouldn’t expect anything different or life changing as Gotti is a street rapper through and through. What separates Gotti from others peddling the same wares is his style, unique voice, and new age Memphis production. While Gotti was doing his thing way before Young Jeezy ever showed up, his voice is best compared to the ATL newcomer. Gotti’s voice has a melodic almost slurred quality to it, making Gotti much more interesting to listen to than most.
The production on “Back 2 Da Basics” is mostly handled by Swizzo and Carlos Broady and tends to stay at a consistently solid level. The only big name producer that makes an appearance is Scott Storch on “That’s What They Made It Foe” where he delivers a Caribbean influenced track. Elsewhere, Producer Kellen delivers a clearly Memphis track on “Shawty Violating (Wup That Hoe)” that is decent but sounds a little too much like other Memphis tracks that were featured in “Hustle and Flow.” Yo Gotti does his best with most of the tracks, though he never strays far from the streets that made him an underground star. “Cold Game” is a dark tale relating the toughness and cold-hearted nature of the streets. Other tracks, like “U A Gangsta Rite?” and “I’m A Thug,” touch on similar subject matter with good results. Gotti also touches on more mainstream tracks with the Jazze Pha assisted “A Part of Thugs” though Pha is surprisingly absent on the beat. The track reaches its goal of making an R&B influenced track, which is a good or bad thing depending on where you stand on those tracks. “Shawty” meshes the hardcore Memphis underground with more mainstream appeal as the track is obviously influenced by buck music but isn’t too rowdy that it can’t be played on the radio.
“Back 2 Da Basics” is a solid album but isn’t for everyone. Gotti is a dope rapper and has a very interesting style. Tracks like “Full Time” show he can flex lyrical muscle when he wants, but for the most part Gotti stays true to his street roots. The production is solid and maintains a clear Memphis feel to it by meshing buck, crunk, and Texas funk to create a new but familiar Memphis sound. If you mind tracks filled with street tales, dope boys, and gangsters then you should probably pass on Gotti’s latest. But those who enjoy that type of music will find plenty of trunk rattling tracks and street anthems. If Gotti evolves from more than street rapper he might reach a wider audience next time, but considering his underground success it seems Gotti doesn’t want nor need the mainstream to get his grind on.