By 2020, Memphis rapper Yo Gotti’s annual Birthday Bash concerts had become a signature summer event in the Bluff City — a star-studded celebration of Gotti, his CMG label and his evolution from street rapper to mainstream star.
After seven successful concert events — which grew each year in size and stature — the 2020 Birthday Bash looked to be the biggest yet. Then came the COVID-19 pandemic. The bash was canceled in 2020 and 2021.
Finally, after three years, the event is set to return this week to FedExForum.
“I’ve been patiently waiting to get back on that Birthday Bash stage and put on a show for the fans," Gotti said in a statement to The Commercial Appeal. "Birthday Bash is more than just a celebration of Memphis — it’s my way of showing love and appreciation to the city that supported me as a person, artist and entrepreneur."
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Friday's show, headlined by Gotti, will feature performances by the stars of his CMG roster. As in years past, the concert is also expected to include some big name guests, including Lil Uzi Vert (whose appearnce Gotti announced this week on Instagram).
"I’m grateful for all the artists that have come through over the years and helped me make this a special moment for the city," Gotti noted. "We’re going to keep elevating the show, so it gets bigger and better.”
Here are five things to know ahead of the Yo Gotti and Friends: Birthday Bash 8.
Building Yo Gotti's Birthday Bash
While Yo Gotti was actually born in mid-May, his birthday concert celebrations have typically taken place in June and July. For many years, Gotti performed on or around his natal anniversary — including a somewhat infamous 2006 show at the now defunct Plush Club. The roots of the more formalized birthday concert came with a Gotti performance at Minglewood Hall in summer 2012.
In 2013, Gotti staged the first officially billed "Birthday Bash" at Downtown's Orpheum, and in the process brought hip-hop to the historic venue for the first time. It was a meaningful indication of Gotti's rise, a moment he'd actually predicted on his 2012 track "Killa" — the opening line of which says, "Picture me performing at the Orpheum."
The following year, he moved the show to the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts. At the time, he noted — perhaps jokingly but ultimately prophetically — that he wanted to make the show an annual Memphis tradition, not unlike the Beale Street Music Festival, and that his goal for the show was "to one day have it in the FedExForum."
After another venue jump to the Mud Island Amphitheater in 2015 and 2016, in 2017 Gotti finally made his arena dream come true, bringing the Birthday Bash to FedExForum.
Yo Gotti's growth
Gotti's own rising star has been the key to the Birthday Bash’s growth. His mainstream breakthrough nine years ago coincided with the launch of the event. Since then, Gotti has enjoyed five consecutive Top 10 debuts on the Billboard album charts, including 2013's "I Am" and 2016's "The Art of Hustle" — which are both gold certified — as well as 2017's "I Still Am" and 2020's "Untrapped." Gotti’s 2022 album, "CM10: Free Game," made it to No. 3 on the charts.
Beyond the musical success, Gotti's relationships/sponsorships with the likes of Roc Nation Management and Puma and his purchase of a stake in Major League Soccer franchise D.C. United have further upped his cache and profile, making him the undisputed "King of Memphis."
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In the three years since the last bash, Gotti’s label CMG has grown exponentially and become one of hip-hop’s signature companies, developing the careers of the artists including Moneybagg Yo, 42 Dugg, EST Gee and more.
In 2021 — after years working with Sony/Epic — Gotti solidified CMG's future, announcing a new partnership with major label collective Interscope/Geffen/A&M. Also, in 2021, CMG’s flagship artist, Moneybagg Yo, earned his first-career No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 with the release "A Gangsta's Pain," which hit the top of the charts twice. It would prove the sixth highest-selling hip-hop album of the year and the 16th highest-selling album across all genres.
Meanwhile, 42 Dugg's project "Free Dem Boyz" debuted at No. 8 on the Billboard 200, while tracks like "4 Da Gang" and "Maybach" were certified gold. And EST Gee's mixtape, "Bigger Than Life or Death," reached No. 7 on the Billboard 200.
Recently, Gotti and CMG signed a pair of powerhouse female artists in R&B act Lehla Samia and the emerging GloRilla, whose anthem “FNF (Let’s Go)” has become one of the songs of the summer. Gotti and several CMG artists (EST Gee, Mozzy, Blac Youngsta) were featured on the cover of the music industry bible Billboard, which crowned the Memphis company as "The Hardest-Working Label in Hip-Hop."
In June, Gotti and members of his CMG label, including Moneybagg Yo, Lil Poppa and Mozzy, released "Big League," which served as the official song of the NBA Finals. Just this past week, CMG announced a new single and video for "Steppas," which teases a forthcoming compilation album called "Gangsta Art," that will feature Gotti, Moneybagg Yo, Blac Youngsta, EST Gee, 42 Dugg and Mozzy, among others.
The video below contains content some may find offensive.
Birthday Bash guest list
Beyond the members of Gotti’s CMG crew, the Birthday Bash concerts have featured an increasingly impressive lineup of surprise guests over the years.
Among those who’ve made the trip to Memphis to pay homage and perform alongside Gotti are Lil Wayne, YG, Nicki Minaj, Lil Boosie, Jeezy and Rich Homie Quan. The most recent shows have featured Meek Mill, T.I., Tank, Juvenile (in 2018) and Master P, Rick Ross and Megan Thee Stallion (in 2019).
Although Gotti and his camp have remained tight-lipped about the potential guests for this week’s concert — aside from Lil Uzi Vert —the lineup is very likely to continue the tradition and include some of hip-hop’s top acts and icons.
Going to the show
Tickets to the Birthday Bash are still available but, given the years of pent-up demand, are selling out quickly. As of press time, a relative handful of seats in the upper tiers are available on Ticketmaster for $36.50 and $26.50. However, those wishing to get a little closer to the action can purchased verified resale tickets that will put you on the floor, starting at $150 and going all the way up to $2,000 for front row.
Gotti is also teaming up with Rotation, the hip-hop and R&B brand from Amazon Music, to livestream the show. Fans can go to the Amazon Music channel on Twitch to watch the concert.
Yo Gotti and Friends: Birthday Bash 8
8 p.m. Friday, FedExForum, 191 Beale St.
Tickets: $26.50 and $36.50. Ticketmaster.com
The concert will also be livestreamed on Amazon Music's Twitch channel.
This article originally appeared on Memphis Commercial Appeal: Yo Gotti Birthday Bash 2022: What to expect at Memphis concert