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Hitting and Missing with Yo Gotti
Boasting appearances from the likes of DJ Khaled, Kanye West, Kodak Black, 2 Chainz and Big Sean, Memphis rapper Yo Gotti releases the latest in his CM series of mixtapes, 'White Friday (CM9)'.
‘White Friday (CM9)’ is hit and miss. The mixtape's worst tracks are too undemanding to gain traction in a hip-hop industry that’s currently being spearheaded by a wave of intelligent, reflective and fearlessly progressive rap artists. The tunes on the release’s front end are dangerously catchy - however, they can get brainless. The longevity of cuts like ‘Blah Blah Blah’ (a worryingly vacant effort in which Gotti speaks about losing patience with his girlfriend’s constant bickering) is low.
Although ‘Power Of Money’ is sincere and provides a glimpse into 35-year-old Gotti’s self-starter mindset, the cut has been done umpteen times before. While Gotti doesn’t do anything game-changing on the proudly street-level ‘White Friday (CM9)’, the rapper is admittedly easy to listen to.
An Alert, Ever-Ready Approach to Hip-Hop
A handful of tunes on the tracklisting are saved from becoming completely skippable by Gotti’s readied presence and alert approach to hip-hop. ‘Lifestyle’ with LunchMoney Lewis flickers with clout, and it’s impressive how swiftly listeners are immersed into the rapper’s personal life on opener ’81’. Gotti impacts as if he was born to rap on the mixtape’s better tracks. The emcee can be surprisingly versatile and nimble when he wants to be.
Within the release's mixed bag of beats, there are points on ‘White Friday (CM9)’ where Gotti sounds completely unworried. These moments stand out, and feature the rapper actually outperforming many of his industry peers. Ultimately though, these instances are few and far between on ‘White Friday (CM9)’.
Kodak Black and YFN Lucci Take the Lead
Atlanta rapper YFN Lucci takes the lead on ‘They Like’, while Florida’s Kodak Black does the same on single ‘Weatherman’. Thanks to an insanely instant piano loop, ‘They Like’ contains tons of fleeting singalong appeal. YFN Lucci’s singing drawl on the tune’s hook is just as contagious. That said, ‘They Like’ is pretty basic, there’s nothing overly challenging about it. Also, compared to all the other hip-hop tracks out there, ‘They Like’ can sound amateur production-wise.
To his credit, Kodak Black shows no signs of self-consciousness on the superior, ridiculously hooky ‘Weatherman’. The 19-year-old rapper brings an unbridled energy to the tune. Its deep basslines and beats are low-riding in a way that’s truly hard to resist. Still, an inexplicable immaturity surrounds 'Weatherman'. Listeners over the age of twelve years old will most likely get bored of the track after a few plays.
Words of Encouragement From DJ Khaled
Drawing attention away from anything Gotti does on ‘I Remember’, DJ Khaled gives an entertaining pep talk during the track’s outro. Like some kind of omnipotent sage, Khaled uses ‘I Remember’ to promote his self-confident, unwavering life manifesto. Khalid is heard recalling a time when he was surrounded by people who wanted to ruin him. He then tells listeners that he eventually defied his detractors by making “twenty-five million in eleven months”.
Coming together over an unperturbed, elementary hip-hop beat, rap artists Kanye West, Big Sean, Quavo and 2 Chainz join Yo Gotti for single ‘Castro’. ‘Castro’ is inspired by the Cuban revolutionary and politician Fidel Castro, who died a couple of weeks before the release of ‘White Friday (CM9)’. The track certainly sounds like it didn’t take too long to put together, it’s lyrics aren’t exactly profound.
Utilising the tune’s tireless bump, the super circle of emcees spend ‘Castro’ playfully putting words together, trading boastful rap bars and referencing Jennifer Lopez. Despite making an effort to sound united, the rappers make more of an impact individually. ‘Castro’ becomes more enjoyable the less it's taken seriously.
Making Money on the School Playground
Signed to Gotti’s CMG label, Memphis hip-hop artist Blac Youngsta co-stars on ‘Free Lunch’. Both Gotti and Youngsta use the tune to take listeners back to their eventful school days. Gotti explains that because he lived in public housing as a kid, he was awarded free school lunches. The rapper’s animated lyrics describe him messing around with senior year girls, being sent to juvenile detention and trying to make money on campus.
Shouting out his rap heroes Tupac, Biggie, Jay Z and Nas, Gotti repeatedly alters his flow for ‘Off Da Top (3am)’. In doing so, Gotti manages to separate the otherwise straightforward hip-hop/trap cut from the pack. A unique sense of momentum is introduced to the tune as an unidentified male voice cheerleads Gotti towards its finish.
Gotti Pays Tribute to His Music Manager on "What Happened"
‘What Happened’ is unexpectedly sentimental and touching. The song's emotional pull makes it stand out. Though ‘What Happened’ can feel somewhat overdone at approximately eight minutes long, Gotti uses the track to process the recent loss of his manager, Mel Carter. With his heart firmly on his sleeve, Gotti starts the tune by muttering, “never thought I’d be making this song”.
Chronicling the various experiences the two shared together, ‘What Happened’ is littered with anecdotes. The rapper is heard recalling a time when Carter convinced him to fly overseas to London, after Gotti had initially dismissed the idea of travelling. The emcee also explains how he hired more security after taking Carter's advice. Gotti then speaks about Carter convincing him to drop many of the minor disputes in his personal life.
As ‘What Happened’ climaxes, vocalist and producer Eddie Tate can be heard in the tune’s background singing, “how can I go on? I can’t thank you enough…” 'What Happened' not only immortalises Gotti’s feelings for his much-missed manager, it successfully channels an authentic, relatable sense of loss.