%cYo Gotti% was born Mario Mims on May 19, 1981 in Memphis, Tennessee. He was raised in a notorious crime-ridden neighborhood in Ridge Crest housing projects. His father, mother, uncle and aunt were hustlers. They were arrested by cops when Gotti was in second grade. Consequently, he started thugging on the streets to fend for the household.
At the age of 14, Gotti turned to hip-hop. He started rapping in 1990s along with his Memphis underground crew. He released his first cassette titled "Youngsta on a Come Up" as Lil Yo in 1996. The record soon became a local hit, making Gotti the leader of local underground hip-hop group and one of the brightest rappers in Memphis. His rapping style was influenced by non-Southern and Southern hip-hop music and was inspired by rap icons like %cMaster P%, %cDr. Dre% and %cTupac Shakur% among others.
After performing around Memphis in the 90s, Gotti started paving his path as national hip-hop star in early 2000s. Between 2000 and 2006, he released a string of independent albums, including "From Da Dope Game 2 Da Rap Game", "Self Explanatory", "Life" and "Back 2 Da Basics".
Yo Gotti's first major effort "Live From the Kitchen" was released in 2012 via Polo Grounds/RCA record label. The album was a big commercial success. It successfully landed at No. 4 on the U.S. Rap charts and at No. 12 on Billboard 200 after selling more than 16,000 copies in its first week.
In the following year, the rapper released another effort titled "I Am", which blasted to No. 7 on Billboard 200. It marked Gotti's first official release through a label he founded, CMG (Collective Music Group). He released a series of mixtapes through the label between 2014 and 2017.
The follow-up to "I Am" was another commercial success. Titled "The Art of Hustle", the effort arrived in 2016 via Epic Records and CMG. It debuted at No. 4 on Billboard 200 with more than 45,000 copies sold in its first week. Meanwhile, a single called "Down in the DM" off the album reached No. 13 on Billboard Hot 100.
In the same year, %cMeghan Trainor% tapped Gotti to assist her on three songs off her album "Thank You". In late 2016, Gotti announced a deal with %cJay-Z% and Roc Nation label in partnership with his CMG imprint.
On June 1, 2017, Gotti released a collaborative mixtape with %cMike WiLL Made It% called "Gotti Made-It". Its lead single, "Rake It Up" featuring %cNicki Minaj%, peaked at No. 10 on Billboard Hot 100, marking Gotti's highest-charting single in the country.
In September, Gotti was accused of being involved in fellow rapper %cYoung Dolph%'s shooting. The disagreements between their crews allegedly led to the incident. Gotti later was cleared of the accusations, but his pal Corey McClendon was arrested shortly after the incident for attempted murder.