With Jeezy’s continued presence in rap’s upper tier, Duct Tape Ent. challenging his status from below and a label that didn’t even bother to alert him about his album release, Yo Gotti’s status as the go-to, gruff trap rapper may be in danger. Fortunately, Gotti has the unique ability to push ‘being good’ to its upper limit.
“Harder,” the second single from Live From Da Kitchen, is the type of song that Gotti excels at creating. It’s completely dependent on the brute force of everyone involved. Lil’ Lody makes the smaller contribution here, with a Scott Storch-y remix of the Hard in the Paint melody to some mild success. This beat isn’t on the same level as the great tracks he gave Starlito, Jeezy and Gunplay last year, but it’s enough of a backdrop for Gotti and Ross to make it better.
Gotti is a great momentum rapper; as the beat chugs along, his intensity grows, and his simple lyrics seem to expand in purpose and meaning. He isn’t interested in using big words, but he’s an underrated writer who has more dimension than white bricks and shooting them choppers. In the middle of his first verse, he says,
“Fuck if I die today, I went to church, I paid my tithes
I left my son a couple million dollars, so I did alright.”
Gotti’s delivery turns an affecting statement into an effective taunt. As if he’s saying “Despite my criminal behavior, I’ve remained focused on my goals and stayed in touch with a higher power. FUCK YALL NIGGAS BEEN DOING?!” And “I can die a dope dealer, but I’m smarter” is a brilliant way to acknowledge the ridiculousness at the center of trap rap. Gotti controls the song with such a commanding energy that by the time you get to Ross’ verse, it feels unnecessary. Luckily, Ross turns in one of his better guest appearances: “I know I won’t live forever, but I’m stacking up like I will.” Much like Ross, Gotti makes anthems, the type of songs that get remixes with 7+ rappers. Gruff and simple will take you places.