FEATURE: Irv Gotti, Deeper Than Rap
Irv Gotti is an enigma. From rolling in Bentleys to beating cases, Gotti’s seen the perilous ebbs and flows that this industry will throw at you. The self-proclaimed asshole with a bad temper that just can’t seem to stay faithful is also the savvy mastermind behind The Inc. empire as well as a caring and devoted dad. How do we know this, in large part from seeing his life play out in front of us in primetime on his hit reality show Gotti’s Way. Picked up for a second season with the premiere episode recently airing, the music mogul is never at a loss for words and chopping it up with XXLMag.com was no different. Taking a break from the rigors of the hustle, Gotti explained why the hood loves his show, why his baby mom will not be following in Tahiry’s footsteps, Mike Jones and Plies biting Ja Rule’s style, among other things.
XXLMag.com: Congrats on the second season of Gotti’s Way. What’s been the reactions that you’ve been receiving as a whole from the show?
Gotti: The biggest reaction from the first season has just really been the women about me and Deb. And then the dudes are like ‘Gotti, why are you saying all of this? You’re releasing all the secrets.’ [laughs] That’s been the biggest reaction. The women are so interested in Deb and how she deals with me and they have all of their opinions and comments and everything. And the dudes is just like ‘yo, you’re saying too much. Now when I leave to go out of town my girl thinks I’m fucking somebody.’
XXL: What made you wanna do it again?
Gotti: I’m not your normal reality guy, that’s why it took so long for season two. When they wanted to come around filming me, I’d be like yo, I’m busy. And to be honest with you, the reality show money, it’s not like that, yo. When you see all these guys with these reality shows, they ain’t getting no real bread. Or at least not real bread like how I get real bread. Read bread is millions, so, it’s not like that. But more bombs get dropped this season. A lethal bomb gets dropped this season. Ya’ll gonna have to tune in to see it.
XXL: This is the first time people are seeing what we call “hood love” on TV. Have you gotten a different reaction from the hood?
Gotti: Well, my hood people, when they come up to me, especially the women, they be like ‘you stay with Deb, she’s a good woman.’ And I be like, well, you like her that much, you go be with her then [laughs]. The hood just likes our togetherness even through that adversity. A lot of times in the hood you see a different thing. You see guys leaving they chick and not coming around, not supporting they kids and with us, it’s nothing like that. So even though we not together, when people see we still down and ride for each other like we do, they like that.
XXL: You seem like sort of a private person but your life is all on TV. Did you ever have any reservations about putting all of your personal stuff out there?
Gotti: Abso-fucking-lutely [Laughs]. I gotta credit Chris Abrego, the CEO of 51 Minds, he had to convince me. It took him three months of trying to convince me and then me just saying aight, fuck it, I’ll do it cause again, the money ain't like that. But I have no regrets. I mean, I’m not ashamed of anything or how I move or the stuff that people usually don’t want other people to see. So, it’s all good, they can see that. And I don’t think anyone is looking at me any different type of way. I think the reverse happened. I think people actually feel me more. See, I’m a different type of reality star. People do reality shows because they’re fucked up and need the bread. Me, I’m good. If that’s the case, then the producers can kind of have their way with you and be like ‘oh, well you wanted this so you have to do this and that.’ I have no problem saying no to whatever. So my show is different. I’m not doing it for that. If anything, I like it because it’s made Deb a star. It’s more for her. I like her being a star cause she got her own swagger now and shit.
XXL: So is she about to get her Tahiry on?
Gotti: Nah, you can’t even put Deb and Tahiry in the same sentence. That’s not a knock against Tahiry because she looks very nice and sexy and everything, but Deb won’t be doing King spreads, yo. [Laughs]. Not that she can’t do ‘em cause she can get right and do them if she wanted to, but Deb is just a different breed. She’s more from the old school.
XXL: How much of this season is gonna be based in the music business?
Gotti: Um, 50/50. That’s how we designed it. There’s a lot with Lloyd and his project and my new artist Newz. It’ll show me going to Brooklyn inside Bed Stuy and then me signing him. So people get to see that aspect of how I go about signing new artists and everything.
XXL: Speaking of signing artists, how has your day to day as an executive changed in light of the climate of the industry?
Gotti: It’s changed a little bit because I have so much more going on with TV and film. I’m seeing the decline of the music business so I’m making my transition a little smoother. I’m not getting out the business, but I am focusing on a few other things.
XXL: With you transitioning into other things, does that change your relationship with artists you came in the game with like Jay or Rule?
Gotti: Nah, because those people you mentioned it’s more than music with them. I’m gonna be Roc-A-Fella til I die. I’ve known Jay since I was 17. Jay’s my brother, it’s just like that, same thing with Rule, same thing with DMX. When we say murder for life, me and Rule, that’s what it is. Things change but the love for my brothers never gon change. And when I say Roc-A-Fella, that’s Dame too. That’s Biggs too. I know they don’t fuck with Hov and that’s something that I hate and I’ve known Jay the longest but I got love for them as well.
XXL: What’s up with Ja Rule as far as the music goes?
Gotti: What’s up with Rule is what’s up with damn near every artist in the music business. The music business is just at a trying time right now. Here’s what you gotta understand with me and Rule. We’ve been a part of and we’ve been associated with greatness. Like Rule for three consecutive albums sold three million or more. So when you’ve had that kind of success and you put an album out that you don’t feel is going to do what it’s supposed to do, then we gotta wait and get it right. Now, you have to be greater than great just to achieve great. That’s why putting out projects now…it can’t just be good.
XXL: So do you have the capacity and patience to do that all over with a new artist like you did Ja, Ashanti or Lloyd?
Gotti: Absolutely, because it’s just in me. It’s just harder now because the record sales aren’t translating that. Take Rule for instance, he’s been out 15 years, so it’s harder than hard for him. Like the records that’s out, the new Mike Jones record with the chick singing on it. Nigga if that don’t sound like what Rule and Ashanti did…even Plies and what he’s been doing. And this is no knock to them. Just a lot of the artists coming out now, you listen to the records and they’re Ja Rule records. It’s just crazy cause Ja’s been out so long that if he does that same record that they’re doing people will say, ‘eehhh, heard that from him already.’ We gotta think five times harder than the average guy. 50 [Cent]’s feeling that too now.
XXL: Ok. You mentioned transitioning even more into TV and films. I heard you got something big in the works…
Gotti: I got another like two or three shows on MTV and VH1 that’s coming out that I’m a part of executive producing and will be doing a lot more in the future. Then there’s this other thing, that I don’t really wanna talk about it too much…nah, fuck it, I’ll let you be the first to break it. It’s XXL right? [Laughs]. I got a show with HBO brewing and it’s called 160 Varick. That’s where I started at, that’s the address to the old Def Jam. Now the show is like Entourage but it’s based on the music side. That should tip you off. I’ve already met with the presidents of HBO but I just don’t like talking about it because it may never see the light of day if it’s not great the way I want it to be. My agent is Ari, the real Ari, Ari Emannuel. The guy that Jeremy Piven plays on the show, in real life, that’s my agent. So I’m in the process of finding the best writers to write the sexiest, wittiest, funniest shit that’ll make a great HBO series. –Anthony Roberts