Gangster rap is ‘disliked’ for all the wrong reasons. Sure, it’s violent, rude, and disrespectful, but, artistically, that’s irrelevant. Good content can come of any genre, since, by definition, Art is a matter of care, arrangement, precision, etc, even if ethically sparse. Of course, typical gangster rap is made by simple-minded people – Trick Trick, 50 Cent, et alii – but that’s the artist’s, not genre’s fault. For every several dozen abominations, there is at least one Sean Price, who, while not socially astute or philosophical, is technically good, and even better stylistically. At bottom, gangster rap is usually style over substance, although both are possible. It’s problematic, but at least when talented, such artists have a well-crafted attitude to fall back on – the listener gets something.
In Yo Gotti’s music, however, there’s little of that. In “Intro (CM2),” for example, Yo Gotti adopts a raspy, sing-song drawl against some typical drums and pretentiously dull organs. Yo Gotti, however, is neither evocative in his violence, nor divulging any one-liners. I’ve heard this stuff before. “Shoot Off” sounds like a near-rehash of the intro, but at least Yo Gotti is introspective and has a pretty solid flow, better than the above. This could have used a well-crafted, wise-ass hook – it needs some meat if content is so thin. “Meeting Da Plug” has a crunk feel, complete with the incongruous keyboard, and, given the confluence of the ‘jagged’ sounds and Yo Gotti’s start-stop vocals, it works. Again, however, no substance, and no attitude – the track slightly works for other, more technical reasons.
“Sold Out” is another bit of filler, like the first two tracks – absolutely no difference between them, and instantly forgettable. “Off Da Top Of Da Head” sounds like a freestyle, but that’s no saying much. At a minimum, one must be a great songwriter first before taking on freestyles, and, since Yo Gotti lacks that qualification, the result is relentless noise. “Drum Play” is worthless gun-talk, not clever and astute, like Talib Kweli’s “Gun Music,” but unelevated and crude. “Dope Boy Life” is almost appealing, in a pop-esque sort of way, but, again – no style, no substance. I really can’t differentiate Yo Gotti from any other gangster rapper, save for his good flow. But, that’s it.
“Definition of a G” is ‘triumphant’ – horns, steady drums – if such a thing is possible —
“I’m a definition of a G
interpretation of the streets
distribution of a key
You will never be as ill as me
never be as trill as me
never be as ill as me
I already did the shit you did
bitches I already hit
money I already spent”
— but that’s as close as Gotti gets to depth. Stylistically, the confidence – while having no realistic place here – nonetheless gives it a little bit of edge, beyond mere violence and gun-talk. Still, does that mean quality? No, it’s simply a light, minor bit of distinction, not artistry, or even attitude.