This story is part of Billboard’s 2021 R&B/Hip-Hop Power Players package. Read the list in full here.
With a career spanning over three decades, Yo Gotti has always dreamed of building the next big-time rap label. After watching the likes of JAY-Z, Birdman and Master P transition from artists to boardroom executives with their respective imprints, Gotti saw himself following their path, bringing his Memphis flair into the mix.
Today, his label, the 14-year-old CMG, not only boasts a formidable roster — including Moneybagg Yo, 42 Dugg, EST Gee, Bloc Boy JB and Blac Youngsta — but also announced an eight-figure partnership deal with Interscope Records in June.
“I’m a student of the game. I try to look into everybody’s story and history,” says Gotti. “When we talk about Cash Money — Birdman and Slim — and Roc Nation, some of these people I was not only able to study but almost sit in the classroom [with] because I was there to experience it firsthand. I take everything I can learn, take it in and do my thing.”
Throughout Gotti’s 25-year-plus career, he has recorded as an artist with RCA Records and Epic Records. In 2016, he joined forces with Roc Nation for management and has since used the knowledge he has acquired to shape his CMG label. While Gotti signed Moneybagg Yo, Bloc Boy JB and Blac Youngsta from his native Memphis, he has expanded his talent-scouting sights to recruit EST Gee from Louisville, Ky., and 42 Dugg from Detroit.
Earlier this year, Moneybagg Yo notched his first No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with his album A Gangsta’s Pain; the project enjoyed a two-week run at the summit. In May, 42 Dugg maintained CMG’s momentum when he debuted at No. 8 on the Billboard 200 with his mixtape Free Dem Boyz. Now, EST Gee is an artist to watch thanks to collaborations with Lil Baby and Gotti himself.
“Our long-term goal is to continue to dominate the game and build the brand even bigger,” says Gotti. “[We’ll] continue to find the hottest artists to work with and make sure CMG becomes one of these Roc-A-Fella, Cash Money, Ruff Ryders and Death Rows 10 to 20 years from now, so that a new Yo Gotti — a new executive — is going to say they want to be the new CMG.