One of the first questions I asked Atlanta rapper Lotto Savage was how long he’d been rapping for. His answer: seven months. He’d never even laid down a freestyle before guesting on 21 Savage’s “Dirty K,” the second track on 21’s Slaughter King tape, which was actually put out in December. Shortly after that, upon 21’s encouragement, Lotto decided to forego his street dealings in favor of a music career.
It’s stories like Lotto’s that make me love today’s rap game. 21, now one of the hottest young rappers in the country upon the release of Savage Mode, has been rapping for less than two years. Slaughter King was the tape that made him a household name, and Lotto was one of a few guest features. Call it right place, right time, but upon hearing him on “Dirty K,” there’s no denying that his presence in the rap game is meant to be.
As is the case with the Slaughter Gang leader, one need not question the veracity of what comes out of Lotto’s mouth. Whereas 21 lends a crafty delicacy to his street tales, cruelly enjoying the suspense of what might be lurking around the corner, Lotto channels the all-out chaos of his past life from the moment he starts rapping. “I feel like I want the world to know my story and what I went through,” he tells me. “That’s why I’m just so open with it.”
In his first year in the game, he has already dropped a tape, entitled Don Slaughter — his nickname within the Slaughter Gang, and signed a record deal with Epic via Bases Loaded Records, the ATL-run indie label that’s home to Cash Out, Solo Lucci, Yakki, and more.
Lotto Savage has finally found an outlet to tell his crazy story, one that had been kept inside for far too long. One can hear the excitement about his newfound mode of expression in everything he raps. Fully invested, there’s real passion in his music.
First off, tell me where you’re from in Atlanta.
I’m from the west side of ATL. Campbellton Road to be exact. I was born in Atlanta, so I’m originally from Atlanta. I was born in Atlanta at Grady Memorial Hospital in the ’80s, and I been there since then.
How old are you?
Now I’m 27.
When did you first start doing music?
Um, like seven months ago.
Shit. That’s crazy. Who inspired you to start doing it?
My brother 21 [Savage] really. If it weren’t for him I probably wouldn’t be doing the rap thing. We made a song together on one of his mixtapes Slaughter King – it’s like the second song – “Dirty K.” Once the song dropped, it took off. He just told me to keep out of certain situations, so that’s how I’m here right now.
So before that song, you hadn’t done much rapping at all?
‘Cause 21 has only been rapping for –
Did it come natural for you?
Ah yeah, you could say it came natural for me. Because everything I did as far as with rapping I freestyle – I don’t write anything. It’s all off the top of the head.
Now you’re seven months in – are you fully invested in your music career?
Most definitely. I let all the other – know what I’m sayin’ – things that was keeping me in the streets – I let all that go to pursue rap. So yeah, I got both feet in the rap game right now.
Has seeing 21’s crazy success – especially now with “Savage Mode” – has that motivated you?
Yeah, it’s great. It lets me know that people – they watching now. They on to him. I was there when we were doing shows, and people didn’t know who he was. And he might get mad and be like, ‘I’ma get up outta here,’ ‘cause they ain’t even rocking to the music. I went through all that with him. Seeing him go from that to selling out shows, and people everywhere around the world knowing him – that’s a great feeling for him to come from what he came from and to be doing what he’s doing now. It’s awesome. For me – I’m trying to brand myself, and build my own name, and do the same thing he did. Take off with the rap industry.
So neither of you [or 21] have a background in music, but you’ve gotten into it so fast. What do you think it is that’s making people gravitate to y’all?
Probably realness. The realness of the music, and us as people. People watch our interviews, hear our story, and what we telling is not fake. We ain’t lying about what we been through. So people just gravitate to the realness, that’s what I think. They just like how real we is. Our situation and what we been through and how we just evolved. Me and 21 are good examples for people in the streets that think it might be the end of the road or they might think they don’t got another route. They can look at us, see how we did, and find something that fits for them.
When did the deal with Bases Loaded happen?
I been with Bases Loaded for about six months now. As soon as I got in the game. That’s how I got in the game – I signed with Bases Loaded.
Give some background on Bases Loaded for those not too familiar.
Bases Loaded – they have Cash Out, he’s still signed to the label. They have someone named J Money. They have Solo Lucci. They have Yakki. They just signed a couple of new artists – one named Loso Loaded – that’s my little brother. I got him a deal with them.
And your deal with Epic happened through Bases Loaded?
How’d you find yourself in that situation?
A mutual friend – one of my label mates Yakki Divioshi – he was already signed with Bases Loaded. And he went to D and Slim – shout out to D and Slim – he went to them and told them about me, and was like, ‘Y’all need to sign this dude right here. Lotto, I’m telling you, he got a strong movement behind him.’ That’s how I got signed.
Right, ’cause I saw Yakki and Cash Out – they were in the “Trapped It Out” video.
And Trouble was in there.
Yup, Trouble was in there. Shout out to Trouble. Trouble came out.
Yeah, it most definitely is.
Let’s get to the “Don Slaughter” tape.
That’s my first tape. I got like a million plays on my mixtape. Don Slaughter is an epic tape. If you ain’t got it, you need to go get it right now.
How’d you get the nickname “Don Slaughter”?
I got that nickname when we made up the Slaughter Gang movement. 21 – he’s King Slaughter. I was the Slaughter Boss, but I changed my name to Don Slaughter.
Was that [Slaughter Gang] before the music?
Yeah, Slaughter Gang was when his music came out. That’s when we started all that. So he started the movement. I’m a member of Slaughter Gang.
But the 21 gang was before the music started?
Yeah, the 21 gang is a neighborhood, that’s on the East Side. Everyone that’s from 21 gang is really from the East Side. That’s 2100 block. It’s the block that they stayed on. That’s like the neighborhood. Me and a couple more people are the only ones that’s in 21 gang from the West Side.
How’d you make it over there?
Me and Savage linked up on some street stuff. We just locked in – I was being supportive of him – being around him, telling him his music was good. I felt like his music was gonna go somewhere, and we went from there. We linked up and became the best of friends. We really became family. He introduced me to everyone over there that was part of 21 gang before I got introduced to it. Everyone just embraced me and we went from there.
Let’s talk about a few of the [“Don Slaughter”] songs. You got the one with 21.
Yeah, “Whoa.” We made that song in LA. We took a 36 hour road trip – 21 had some shows in LA. So we rolled like 36 hours. We went to Oakland first, stayed there one night. Then we rode five more hours from Oakland to LA. And then we made “Whoa” in LA. That song got meaning behind it ’cause we had traveled damn near the world.
Y’all were just running on fumes at that point.
Right. That song right there that we made – it’s a hit. It’s got good energy behind it because we was in a whole different atmosphere.
Who’s on the hook?
That’s my little brother Harold. It’s 21 gang Harold. Lil Harold. He’s not even a rapper. He just did it. He made the hook and it was so fly – he wanted to make a song. And I said, ‘Let me get the song bruh, ’cause you don’t even know how to rap [laughs].
It’s a knockout hook.
Shout out Lil Harold one time. He went in.
21 will kind of creep up on you before he snaps. But you like to bring all the energy from the get-go.
Most definitely. 21 just been through a lot. It takes him a bit more to open up about things. Me – I’m just that kind of person. I feel like I want the world to know my story and what I went through. That’s why I’m just so open with it.
And you find it pretty easy to express all that?
The other one that’s starting to pick up is “30” with Lil Yachty.
Yeah man, that song is a hit too. It’s gonna be a single in a minute. It’s heating up. It’ll be in the streets – people really loving it. They love Yachty’s verse. He really got out of his element on the song.
It’s definitely not a collab people would expect.
Right. It’s different – that’s why everyone likes it. It shows Yachty’s versatility too. It took him out of what he used to rapping about. It demonstrates how good of a rapper he is. He can get on anyone’s song and sound great no matter who you is or what you talking bout. Shout out Yachty – he did a great job on the song. I appreciate him for blessing me with the feature ’cause he was out before me. He was already hot, and he didn’t have to do the song with me, but he did. So shout out to everyone at QC.
The video looked like a lotta fun.
Yeah, the video – it actually wasn’t fun. It was so blistering hot out when we shot that video – it just looks like that. They edited it like that. We was complaining, boy. We was bitching, niggas was hot. Niggas was ready to say forget the video, we ain’t shooting it, it’s too hot out here. But we got through it, everyone sucked up the heat and whatever. The editors – they made a good video.
What was the idea behind the video?
I didn’t wanna be in a video with guns ’cause I didn’t wanna bring that type of image where people are gonna say I always got guns in the video. People start talking. So we made a paintball gun video – it looks way better. We in a paintball field shooting paintballs at each other. They got it so it hits the screen and looks 3D like it’s coming at the screen. I felt like it would be a good fit for the video. Instead of us having real clips, jumping around the TV with guns and stuff. That’s why we did paintball guns. Just in case we get our video on MTV – they’d blur out the guns. They ain’t allowed to have real guns on MTV videos.
What are some other key tracks off “Don Slaughter”?
“Racks on Me” is gonna be another single. I got a video already shot for it. I got another track called “Bitches N Hoes” featuring Hoodrich Pablo Juan and Drug Rich Peso. Shout out Pablo and Peso – I think that’ll be a big song, but it might not make the radio ’cause of the content behind the music. It’s a lot of cussing. But it’s a good song and we got a video for that too. Yeah but Don Slaughter – you can ride to that from 1 through 13, all the way through. Ride the whole CD. You ain’t gotta switch off one song.
“Trapped It Out.” That was another big one for you.
That was my single. That song got me signed.
When did you put that out?
The video been out for two months. It’s been on the radio for four months. Shout out to the production team at Epic for setting it up for me. It had a great video shoot. I had a video already shot for it that I made in LA. When I got the deal with Epic, they wanted to do they own video.
And that one was in ATL?
Yeah, in ATL on the East Side.
And Sonny Digital on the beat. He also gave 21 his first big track.
He did. They did that Free Guwop EP. Sonny’s my man. He’s a down-to-earth person, real easygoing and cool. Sonny’s the man. He’s the GOAT, really. He’s an underdog of producers right now ’cause everyone on Metro. But Sonny is really the GOAT right now. And he’s supported a lot of people. He’s helped a lot of people, and they probably ain’t returned the favor. Now Sonny’s trying to pursue his own rap career. He’s probably tired of people never returning the favor. He’s winning.
How did that collab take place?
I went to his house. He’s the kind of person if you ask for beats, he’ll tell you to come over to his house. He gon’ make the beat in front of you. When he made the “Trapped It Out” beat, at first I wasn’t really feeling it. But we were in there vibing to it. And when we got the track, we went to my labelmate Yakki’s house. He was like, ‘I took your house and I trapped it out’ – he was just saying shit. I just took what he said and made a hook out of it. At first, I really felt like that wasn’t a good song, but that’s how it always be. The songs that you think don’t be the ones be the ones.
Yeah, you rarely get to choose ’em.
I didn’t feel like “Trapped It Out” was gonna be big when I first did it. I didn’t feel like that was the song. We wasn’t even gonna put it out – we was gonna wait ’cause when we was tryna get it mixed and mastered, I didn’t like how it sounded. So I told my CEO – this one track doesn’t sound so good all the way mixed and mastered down – it don’t sound right. So he went back and they one-tracked it, and we put it out. It just went crazy. And Travis Scott – he helped me by playing my song on tour with Rihanna. Before he came out, he played my song. That’s another reason the song really got hot. People already heard it from Travis and Rihanna. They was playing the song everywhere. When they came to Atlanta, they brought me out on stage and let me perform the song. Shout out to Travis Scott and Rihanna for that.
Next up you got “Lotto Krueger.”
Yup, October 31st. On Halloween I’m dropping that. That’ll be a treat for everyone. I’m gonna have some features on there. I was gonna do no features, but I got a lot of people in the industry right now who really like me and really wanna do songs with me, so I’ma put them songs out. Ain’t no need to hold onto them.
Can you reveal a couple of those features?
Oh yeah. Dae Dae. 21 of course. My other brother Young Nudy – he just put out a tape. I’m tryna get a remix with Travis [Scott]. If I can get that done, get that on the mixtape, that’ll be fire. Besides Dae Dae and 21, probably Lil Boat – gotta get another track with him. Skippa da Flippa – I got a song with him. Loso my labelmate. Pablo Juan, too. I’ma put him on the tape. Me and Shad da God gonna have a song on the tape too. We just put out a song called “Poked Out.” We been performing it in every club in Atlanta just getting it out there. Me and him made two songs. I killed one and he killed one. He put his out, and I’ma put mine out on my mixtape. I been working with a lil bit of everybody.
So are you and 21 gonna do a Freddy vs. Jason type of project?
Yeah, we gotta do that. Maybe at the beginning of next year. I’ma talk to him about that. That’ll be a good look right there. We could put like nine songs on there.
That would be a monster.
And have a cover with Freddy and Jason on there. That’s a great idea. I’ma use that, too.