While preparing his upcoming Gotti album, San Francisco rapper Berner decided to do a bit more than name it after the former Teflon Don of New York. Following in line with his previous mafioso-themed albums, Berner took a unique approach with Gotti, even getting never-before-heard audio from the Mafia kingpin as he was tried in federal court in the early 1990s.
In an interview with Variety, Berner opened up about his love for the mob, navigating his career following his colon cancer diagnosis and a meeting with the Don’s son which added to the lore of his latest project.
“I knew nothing about John Gotti’s trial tapes,” Bener said of the treasure trove of previously unreleased audio. “I only got in contact with John Gotti Jr. so to get his blessing to call the album “Gotti.” Like a true gentleman, he asked to sit down with me. This was when I first got the cancer verdict, and he wanted me to fly to meet him in NYC the next day. I wasn’t ready.
“My friends, though, reminded me that I live for this, so I went and had a sit-down. Lunch in a restaurant, a very Mafia setting. He asked questions. We caught a vibe. Then after lunch he asked if I wanted to have dinner and hear some never-before-heard audio of his dad that the Feds recorded. Fuck, yeah.”
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The meeting between Berner and Gotti Jr. would result in a piece of finality for the Mafia trilogy originally built from Russ Bufalino: The Quiet Don, which featured a guest appearance by the late DMX in one of his final appearances and Paulie Cicero.
“A week later, he got in touch and we discussed the use of the tapes,” Berner recalled. “It was all his decision. When he came back to me, he visited me in L.A., told me his research into me was positive, and said that not only could I use his dad’s name for my title, but that I could pull some of his dad’s audio for the album. Holy shit. That made the album what it was supposed to be. Pretty powerful stuff. I’m ending the Mafia trilogy as strong as you could.”
Berner’s ability to secure the Gotti tapes is only one part of what could make Gotti the strongest release in his recent suite of Mob-themed albums. Gotti is scheduled to be released on December 3 and is already prepping for the future.
According to him, he’s releasing an unplugged EP at the beginning of 2022 before working on a new themed suite regarding Ghandi.