Bay Area rapper Bazooka Joe Gotti has been on the scene for a hot minute. Known for rocking ciphers all over the USA and Europe as well as being a recording artist. We caught up with Bazooka Joe Gotti to talk about freestyling with Masta Killa. Sharing the stage with The BlastMaster KRS-One and his new release Street Disciple.
You hail from the Bay Area home of hip hop artists Mac Mall, E-40, Too Short and Zion 1 amongst so many others. What drew you to hip hop culture and emceeing?
Maan, I always had a knack for poetry since I was little. Then I was sent a hip hop album soundtrack called Wildstyle, from my auntie in Los Angeles.
I was wearing jeans with burners down the legs, like actual graffiti art pieces on my clothes. Wearing nameplate belt buckles and starter jackets with sayings or names stitched on the back. Fat laces or no shoe strings at all in my Adidas.
Hip hop became a way of life for me. I was a Dj and a
breakdancer. Also helped graf writers do fill-ins and stuff, hitting my name up all over town. Then I said let me try being the mic controller. I did talent shows and started hitting the studio and it was on ever since.
Artists like Rakim and Ice Cube, Big Pun, and The D.O.C. totally inspired me to rap.
You’ve built up a reputation as a freestyle king and have been in ciphers all over the USA and Europe. How did that start?
Honestly, as I think about it, my father used to have comedians and musicians at my house and they would call what they were doing improvisation. That’s when you make up things on the spot and try to keep it going and make sense or be funny. I saw that and was like I can do that.
Years later when I started hitting the clubs or streets where the ciphers were. I would remember those days at my crib and in my subconscious mind those rules or principles I saw then came out of me. I would be able to go forever without stopping my train of thought. I would freestyle alone driving across the city and just always practiced rhyming.
DJ Friction was in the states from Germany. He saw me freestyling in a cipher and we exchanged phone numbers. He came back to the states and stayed with me. We made beats and the next year I hit Stuttgart, Germany. I was recording an album and freestyling there in ciphers 8,000 miles from home.
What has been your most memorable cipher?
That’s a tough one because there have been some good ones. I remember being in one with Del The Funky Homosapien at his house. But the thing is it was just me and him! lol.
Another good one was at the Sound Factory with A Plus and Taijai from the Heiro crew. We were on fire. I also had a good time at The Good Life Cafe in LA which was part of the project blown movement. Aceyalone was in that one.
But…My favorite had to be in the streets of New York City. In a circle of rappers from all over the states, just killing it. New York is the mecca for hip hop so that was special.
Hold up though. Me and Masta Killah rolled around Frisco in my car freestyling the whole day, that was dope too! Shout out Masta Killah.
Together with producer Gennessee you’re also a founding member of Street Reportaz. Tell us about that.
We’ve been rocking Street Reportas for years. My man Don Lo introduced the two best MCs from our neighborhood to each other. We jumped in the booth and it was on and poppin’. We would burn blunts and sit at a table face to face writing rhymes and building as one mind. We family still.
Recently you released the album Street Disciple which you wrote in the 2020 lockdown produced by Gennessee. Tell us about the album.
Street Disciple is an instant classic. We made sure that the lyrical content was above the bar and that the beats were boom rappers with samples and added instrumentation.
Every Bazooka Joe Gotti album has a song with a singer on the hook, not this one. It was the producer’s idea that this had to be straight fire verses and cool hooks but no singing.
I took this project as a challenge. We were under a shelter in place order from the government so Gennessee was sending me a beat every day. I was sending a completed song, written and recorded right back by night time. Sometimes in the wee hours of the morning.
I come to life in the late night early morning hours which we ended up calling the witching hour.
I like the concept of the cover where it has a red and blue fade. Tell us about the cover.
Since the title has the word disciple in it we wanted a church or biblical looking cover. We experimented on old pictures of prophets or Jesus. But we ended up doing a professional photoshoot with a green screen. Adding the church backdrop.
The blue and red were just colors that worked although they could rep the USA that was not the purpose.
Over the years you’ve shared the stage with artists such as Wu-Tang, KRS-One, Talib Kweli, and Too $hort among others. What has been the most memorable or stand out show/performance and why?
They were all off the charts.
Opening up for KRS-One though was always lit. One time he stopped the show held up my album and told 600 people ‘you need to go cop this album’. That was really fly. Then after the show, he pulled me into a picture the local newspaper was taking. He held my album up showing it to the photographer. Outstanding times hanging with them fellas.. fasho.
Then there was the time GhostFace Killa shouted me out in front of 3,000 people after Street Reportas opened up for the Wu-Tang Clan. He remembered me from years prior
Where can people go and check your other releases?
I’m on Amazon music, Apple music, You Tube, Spotify ete. Just type in Bazooka Joe Gotti
Which do you prefer? Freestyling in a cipher or writing and recording music?
I love them both. I used to think my freestyles would get me the traction in the game I wanted. But songwriting is more of challenging yourself. Both are dope but freestyling in ciphers gets me high.
Tell us your socials
Interview by Jai Boo