What to expect at the Memphis concert

By 2020, Memphis rapper Yo Gotti’s annual Birthday Bash concerts had become an iconic summer event in the town of Bluff — a star-studded celebration of Gotti, his label CMG, and his evolution from street rapper to mainstream star.

After seven successful gigs — which have grown in size and stature every year — the 2020 Birthday Bash seemed like the biggest yet. Then came the COVID-19 pandemic. The party has been canceled in 2020 and 2021.

Yo Gotti returns with his Birthday Bash 8 at FedExForum.

Finally, after three years, the event should return this week to FedExForum.

“I’ve been patiently waiting to get back on that stage at Birthday Bash 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 has sustained me as a person, artist and entrepreneur.”

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Friday’s show, headlined by Gotti, will feature performances from stars on his CMG roster. As in years past, the concert is also expected to include renowned guests.

“I’m grateful to all the artists who have been through this 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 Yo Gotti and Friends: Birthday Bash 8.

Building Yo Gotti’s Birthday

While Yo Gotti was born in mid-May, his birthday concert celebrations have usually taken place in June and July. For many years, Gotti performed on or around his birthday, including a somewhat infamous 2006 show at the now defunct Plush Club. The roots of the more formal anniversary concert came with a performance by Gotti at Minglewood Hall in the summer of 2012.

Memphis entertainer Yo Gotti performs during the Yo Gotti & Friends Birthday Bash 3 at the Mud Island Amphitheater in 2015.

In 2013, Gotti hosted the first officially announced “Birthday Bash” at the downtown Orpheum and, in doing so, brought hip-hop to the historic venue for the first time. It was a significant indication of Gotti’s rise, a moment he actually predicted on his 2012 track ‘Killa’ – the first line of which reads, ‘Imagine me playing 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, much like the Beale Street Music Festival, and that his goal for the show was “to have it one day in the FedExForum.”

After another jump to the Mud Island amphitheater in 2015 and 2016, in 2017 Gotti finally fulfilled his arena dream, bringing the Birthday Bash to FedExForum.

Yo Gotti performs at the Yo Gotti & Friends Birthday Bash on June 28, 2019 at FedExForum.

The growth of Yo Gotti

Gotti’s rising star has been key to the growth of the Birthday Bash. Its mainstream breakthrough nine years ago coincided with the launch of the event. Since then, Gotti has had five consecutive Top 10 debuts on the Billboard album charts, including 2013’s “I Am” and 2016’s “The Art of Hustle” — both of which are certified gold — as well as “I Still Am.” in 2017 and “2020”. Not trapped.” Gotti’s 2022 album, “CM10: Free Game,” reached No. 3 on the charts.

Beyond musical success, Gotti’s relationships/sponsorships with Roc Nation Management and Puma and his purchase of a stake in the Major League Soccer DC United franchise further boosted his cachet and profile, making him the “king of Memphis” undisputed.

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CMG Family

In the three years since the last hit, Gotti’s label, CMG, has grown exponentially and become one of hip-hop’s iconic companies, developing the careers of artists such as Moneybagg Yo, 42 Dugg, IS Gee and many more.

In 2021 – after years of working with Sony/Epic – Gotti solidified CMG’s future, announcing a new partnership with major label collective Interscope/Geffen/A&M. Additionally, 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 topped the charts twice. It would be the sixth best-selling hip-hop album of the year and the 16th best-selling album across all genres.

Memphis rapper Moneybagg Yo has become the flagship artist for Yo Gotti's CMG label.

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 #7 on the Billboard 200.

Recently, Gotti and CMG signed a pair of powerhouse female artists to R&B group Lehla Samia and up-and-coming GloRilla, whose anthem “FNF (Let’s Go)” became one of the songs of the summer. Gotti and several CMG artists (EST Gee, Mozzy, Blac Youngsta) were featured on the cover of Billboard’s music industry bible, which crowned the Memphis-based 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 for the NBA Finals. Last week, CMG announced a new single and video for “Steppas,” which teases an upcoming compilation album that will feature Gotti, Moneybagg Yo, Blac Youngsta, EST Gee, 42 Dugg, and Mozzy, among others.

The video below contains content that some may find offensive.

Birthday party guest list

Beyond members of Gotti’s CMG team, Birthday Bash concerts have featured an increasingly impressive list of surprise guests over the years.

Among those who made the trip to Memphis to pay tribute and perform alongside Gotti are Lil Wayne, YG, Nicki Minaj, Lil Boosie, Jeezy and Rich Homie Quan. Most recent shows have featured Meek Mill, TI, Tank, Juvenile (in 2018) and Master P, Rick Ross and Megan Thee Stallion (in 2019).

Rick Ross and Yo Gotti at the Yo Gotti & Friends Birthday Bash on Friday, June 28, 2019 at FedExForum in Memphis.

Although Gotti and his camp have been tight-lipped about potential guests for this week’s concert, the lineup is very likely to continue the tradition and include some of hip-hop’s top artists and icons.

go to the show

Tickets for the Birthday Bash are still available but, given years of pent-up demand, they are selling out fast. At press time, a relative handful of seats in the upper tiers are available on Ticketmaster for $36.50 and $26.50. However, those who want to get a little closer to the action can purchase verified resale tickets that will put you on the floor, starting at $150 and up to $2,000 for first row.

Yo Gotti and Friends: Birthday Party 8

8 p.m. Friday, FedExForum, 191 Beale St.

Tickets: $26.50 and $36.50. Ticketmaster.com

About Michael Terry

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