Feature Story: Geechi Gotti
By Ethan Peschansky
The club’s doors open and Geechi Gotti walks through, his entourage following close behind. Inside the cramped Lexington Theater, dozens of fans are packed in, waiting for the main event to begin. Conversations turn into whispers, and fans crane their necks to catch a glimpse of Geechi as he enters the venue.
The crowd parting before him, Geechi swaggers through, making his way to the stage. He occasionally stops to shake hands and chat with a few fans.
Geechi steps onstage. Around him are other Battle Rap dignitaries: Rum Nitty the Gunline King, Reepah Rell with his bone white face paint, Flossaffee the URL’s man on the West Coast, just to name a few. The small stage can barely hold so many personalities.
He takes his place opposite his opponent. Across from him stands Glueazy, one of Smack’s newest gunners from North Carolina. Both give their usual introductions: crews and neighborhoods are shouted out, well wishes given to friends behind bars.
Glueazy begins the first round, raining down punchlines on Geechi. Impressed, the crowd cheers for the newcomer. West Coast fans know a seasoned spitter when they see one.
Geechi removes his gold chain and loosens up. The crowd shouts encouragement to their hometown favorite. Once they settle down, Geechi begins with his trademark introduction.
“They got Geechi Gotti vs… N***a, YOU’S A BITCH,” Geechi shouted into Glueazy’s face.
At the same time, the crowd chants back Geechi’s words in a chorus of voices. In addition to hyping the crowd up, Geechi’s intro sends a clear message to his opponents: until proven otherwise you aren’t shit to him.
“A lot of these motherfuckers be thinking that everybody’s so tough and everybody’s so gangster and all this and I’m just coming off from the jump letting a n***a know ‘Man you’s a bitch,’” Geechi said. “Until you prove me otherwise, I’m coming out the gate saying it.”
With his punching style that combines disrespect and street realism, Geechi has been captivating the battle rap culture. Taking street talk to the next level, Geechi draws on his experiences of living in Compton, California as inspiration for his verses. The URL has even gone so far as to include “Gangsta” in his list of attributes before his battles.
Overall, Geechi’s battle with Glueazy received positive reviews by bloggers and fans alike. Since being uploaded on August 21, it’s broken 290,000 views on Youtube, Geechi’s highest viewed battle to date.
It was his latest standout performance in a career that includes over 20 battles on Youtube and appearances on leagues such as The Ultimate Rap League, King of the Dot, and other West Coast leagues. In 2017, he battled other notable MCs such as Stuey Newton, Danny Myers, and Ave on Traffic 3.
However, his original goals didn’t involve battle rap. While growing up, Geechi’s primary focus was making music. At the age of 14, he recorded his first songs in his friend’s garage and would later put out his own music videos and mixtapes.
“I never even thought about battle rapping,” Geechi said. “Back then it was just strictly music. Maybe I’d seen a couple of Smack battles, but as far as being involved in it, I was more on the music scene back then.”
Now 29, Geechi’s most recent project, No Studio’N 2, features not only members of his Mafia Bank Boyz crew such as Ron Compton and Li The Mayor, but also other Los Angeles artists like Joe Moses. With his next album, No Studio’N 3, coming soon, Geechi hopes to help erase the stigma that battle rappers can’t make good music.
“They always say battle rappers can’t make music… I feel like they got that wrong about battle rappers,” Geechi said. “ My goal is to hopefully be dope in both (battle rap and music).”
Although he’s spent most of his life making music, Geechi’s battle rap career began relatively recently. He debuted on The Riot battle league in 2014 and made his way to AHAT in 2015. Appearing regularly in both leagues, Geechi battled against other West Coast up-and-comers like Yung Griz, 65 Hunnit, and Element Rhymes.
However, it was his battle against Yak Da Rippa in 2016 where he gained the attention of the URL, or more particularly, Norbes.
“Norbes had came out here for an event that we threw at The Riot called the ‘Norbes List,’” Geechi said. “When I battled in front of him, he was able to spread the word throughout the east.”
A few months later, Geechi took his first URL battle against Hemi on the Traffic 2 Proving Grounds event. Widely praised for his third round where he showcased his unique street talking ability, Geechi impressed enough to earn another matchup. He later battled TeeWhy on another PG event in New York City, although the footage for that battle never dropped.
Despite both sides staying in contact, Geechi’s next URL battle wouldn’t come for another six months. He remained active in battle rap, however, and used the time to expand his resume.
He had multiple battles before returning to the URL, including a one-rounder with Danny Myers. However, Geechi believes it was his battle against Saynt on King of the Dot that pushed the URL to be more proactive in booking him.
“I actually feel like the Saynt battle propelled me more because that battle was on Pay-Per-View and went all over the world,” Geechi said. “It probably made them like ‘Yo, we need to get Gotti back over here, we need to hurry up and get him another plate.’”
Another matchup did eventually come, this time against Stuey Newton in a one-off. Both emcees gave stellar performances, but many fans give Geechi the edge. According to a twitter poll put out by the URL, out of over 400 respondents, 64 percent said Geechi won the battle.
Since the Stuey and Glueazy battles, Geechi’s stock has risen exponentially, and battle rap media has taken notice.
“Geechi Gotti is growing before our eyes every battle,” said blogger KDoz from KDoz Media. “He’s added different attributes to his skill set every battle. His image and presence alone have made him a fan favorite. His bars and punches have improved. I can only see him getting better from here.”
However, with praise from the media also comes criticism and callouts. Veteran battle rapper and Champion analyst, Tech 9 often critiques Geechi’s performances and challenges him to battle.
“If you want to battle me, you have to come to the East Coast. I don’t think you can rap on the East Coast,” said Tech 9 on Champion. “I think the only thing that’s saving you is the West Coast crowd.”
In response, Geechi claims he isn’t afraid to battle on the East and told Rap Grid he would retire Tech 9 “once and for all.”
However, Tech 9 is one of many names on Geechi’s hit list that includes the likes of Snake Eyez, Brizz Rawsteen, Nu Jerzey Twork, and Calicoe.
Having performed well against Ave on Traffic 3, it’s likely Geechi builds off a momentous 2017 and continues his success into 2018. Ready to take the next step in his career, he hopes to leave his own mark in battle rap, one that will stand through the test of time.
“My goal is to always do memorable performances, to always have replay value in those battles,” Geechi said. “Whether I’m still doing it or not, they be like ‘Remember when Gotti was doing it? There wasn’t nobody doing it like him.’”