For the majority of the 21st century, Hip-Hop’s run as the most consumed genre in America has been powered by the south. Between Atlanta’s prolific production of superstars like Future, Young Thug & the QC roster, Florida’s surge of rulebreakers like XXXTENTACION & Ski Mask the Slump God, and Houston’s young icons Megan Thee Stallion & Travis Scott, it’s likely the south will continue their reign on top of the genre. Hoping to add to the southern dominance is Memphis, Tennessee, “Home of the Blues”, “Birthplace of Rock” and “the Cradle of American Music.” Memphis, one of the most historic cities in American music history, is currently home to a Hip-Hop scene that is bubbling, led by Yo Gotti and his Collective Music Group label the goal is to bring the spotlight back to the Mississippi river town.
The CMG boss has been in the game for almost two decades, starting to make a real impact in the early 2010s with 3 out of 4 albums being certified gold. However, this isn’t enough to lead a team into the spotlight. The reality is while Yo Gotti is a tenured Hip-Hop artist, Yo Gotti himself doesn’t garner as much interest as many of the other imprint founders do. Think J. Cole & Dreamville, Rick Ross & MMG, or Kanye West & Good Music. In these examples, the main decision-maker is also the main attraction. This puts CMG in an odd position. While these other collectives could count on the main attraction to consistently bring new fans to the label, outside of Memphis, Yo Gotti doesn’t have nearly the same amount of influence. This means that Gotti and CMG’s focus right now should be development and it seems like they’re heading in that direction.
Gotti’s focus has never been solely on his own career with his business savvy helping him stay alive in a cutthroat business with a short-term memory. Over the past several years Gotti has been dedicated to finding the platform to best elevate CMG to the upper echelon of Hip-Hop artist imprints. In partnering with LA Reid and Epic Records in 2013, before moving to Roc Nation in 2016 to be overseen by Jay-Z, Yo Gotti and his imprint’s roster has risen to great heights in the last 5 years.
But Gotti isn’t satisfied and his new partnership with Interscope Records to develop and support CMG artists is clear evidence that he feels there are more goals left for him to achieve. In an official statement, Yo Gotti said this about the partnership, “We share the same vision about winning – we want to break barriers, disrupt the industry and develop the next generation of superstars. I’m thrilled to partner with them as I continue focusing on CMG’s expansion.”
With 2021 being a slower year than many of us expected, CMG has taken advantage and has positioned themselves to come out solidified as one of the teams to watch this decade. 42 Dugg blew up on the scene with his feature on the Lil Baby smash hit “We Paid” in 2020 and debuted at #8 with his latest album “Free Dem Boyz” that was released this past May. Moneybagg Yo also has impressed, surprising the music world with his #1 album “A Gangsta’s Pain” selling over 100K in its first week. Any imprint that can boast two up-and-coming artists, impacting both the Billboard 200 and Hot 100 charts deserves some respect.
But continuing to develop new artists with longevity will be the deciding factor in CMG’s impact on the genre and solidifying Memphis as a Hip-Hop stronghold which won’t be easy. CMG is already short-handed in star power compared to rival imprints consisting of 42 Dugg, Blac Youngsta, and Lil Migo, while having managerial rights over Moneybagg Yo and Blocboy JB. Gotti will need to continue to find and develop new artists as well as making sure his current signees continue their growth and maybe even his own.