Hailing from the West Indies, YK Gotti, née Gregory Johns, grew up listening to everything from, reggae, to R&B, pop, hip-hop and even gospel music. The self-professed “Young King” has one very simple goal in mind:to bring his unique brand of “positive energy, and enjoyable but always relatable music” to the masses.
When did music first enter your life?
Music has always been in my life; from being a lil kid in the house where I would hear music constantly … CDs, even on vinyl discs my uncles used to own.
Growing up in Georgetown, Guyana, who did you gravitate toward that ultimately influenced you to do what you’re doing today?
Growing up in the West Indies, I would hear songs from Bob Marley, Beres Hammond, Sean Paul, Beenie Man, Buju Banton, etcetera. I always gravitated to the melodies and the substance of the songs, and how turned up parties would be.
At what particular point in time did music go from being a hobby into becoming a profession?
I would say I started [in] 2010, but took it 100 percent serious [in] 2013.
How do you classify the style of music that you create?
Positive, turn up, energetic vibe with a mixture of singing and rapping, depending on the sound of [the] beat.
In having said that, where does your moniker, YK Gotti, originally derive from?
Being a leader, setting high standards and goals for myself, working hard to achieve them, believing in myself, motivating myself and others that are around me, [and] being a self-made “Young King.”
From a lyrical standpoint, when you sit down to pen your lyrics, where do you find your inspiration?
I find inspiration from the trials and tribulations and struggles I have been through and overcoming them, and also the best time I’ve had in my life.
How did the whole transition over here to the States come about?
It came from praying and having faith when I was a young kid and some of my dad’s family was already in America, so whatever process had to be completed it was done and next thing I knew, I was on a plane to America.
Have you found said transition to be difficult, as far as trying to make a name for yourself here in the U.S.?
No, it hasn’t, i wasn’t born to fit. I was meant to stand out and I always knew that in my heart and mind.
With that being said, how did you come to the attention of former Bad Boy Entertainment and veteran music producer Tony Dofat?
At that time when I first started recording in official studios instead of my home. I was general manager of a mutual associate we known and I wasn’t focused on the music as much. I had recorded one of my first songs and I asked Dofat one day to listen and give me his critique on the song. He listened and told me, “Good song,” and what we should do to make the song better from there. We’ve worked nonstop and built a bond, and the rest is history.
Your most recent single is titled “Ballin.” Tell us about this track.
It’s a track with positive vibes, turning up, lifestyle feel, just enjoying a moment where you feel on top of the world, and not only for yourself but for others. In the video, you will see fly foreign cars, hot women, fly cribs, my team, energetic vibes of me and my team … also, it don’t have to necessarily be in a club, it could be anywhere. You could be at the dealership getting a new car, Ballin’, etcetera … it’s the vibe and feel; make you feel good about yourself.
“Ballin” comes courtesy of your soon-to-be released solo EP, B4 The Fame EP. What does that title represent both to and for you?
B4 The Fame EP represents what I have done, things I have seen and went through before the fame. For me, it represents the ups and downs, and the accomplishments and dreams, that have manifested to reality for me before the fame.
Longevity, what do you feel it is that will sustain you in music?
My style and sound and versatility.
Do you have any additional aspirations, maybe even entirely away from music?
Yes, some … such as modeling [and] acting.
On a more serious note, are you happy with the current state of pop music?
As time passes, everything has to change … technology, etcetera. And, music being one of them. All I could say, it’s not like the music from ’90s and early 2000s.
What would you want people to know about tou that they won’t get from listening to your records?
That I work nonstop to create a better life for me, my family and my ‘Young Kings.’ Never asked for a handout, always grinding to get to the next level and just having fun enjoying life with those in my life.
As an extension to that last question, what would said people find you doing in your off or spare time, completely away from the music?
In the gym doing YKFITNESS, hanging out partying with my homeys and ladies, playing basketball, shopping or playing 2K.
To date, what has been the highlight of your career?
There’s so many to start from, but I would definitely say my first European world tour.
Projecting, where do you see yourself in a 5- to 10-year time span?
Being a wealthy, successful artist entertainer and business entrepreneur.
What’s next for YK Gotti?
More tours, more performances (and) more exposure to the masses.
Anything you’d like to add?
Continue ruling with my vision and perfecting my craft and taking care of my family and friends. #YKOA
“Ballin” available now on iTunes
Official website: http://youngkingofficial.com/yk-gotti/