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Lil Yachty, One Of The Realest Rappers In The Game, Isn't Jaded By Negativity

Lil Yachty knows exactly who he is. 

Rapper Lil Yachty is arguably the most authentic rapper in the game right now. In an arena-like industry full of imaginary body snatchers, kilo pushers, and kingpin impersonators, Lil Boat's veracity remains unflinching--even in the face of uncertainty and embarrassing moments.

On his smash hit "Peek-A-Boo" featuring Migos, Yachty raps: “My new bi**h yellow/ She blow that d**k like a cello.” Now, a cello is part of the violin family. However, Yachty didn't attempt to cover-up the fact that he thought the instrument was an object that one would blow, referencing oral sex. During an interview with HOT 97's Ebro Darden, he was asked why he didn't mask his mistake. The "Minnesota" rapper simply replied that it's always better to just tell the truth.

But there are more awkward moments from the Atlanta-bred teen. During Complex's Everyday Struggle series with Joe Budden, DJ Akademiks, and Nadeska Alexis in May, Yachty shed light on his lack of information. The rapper told Budden that he did not know whether or not he was in a 360 deal nor had he given any thought to what he wanted to gain from hip-hop--other than money. Regardless of one's personal opinion about Yachty's lack of knowledge and forethought, respectively, one has to respect his honesty. There's nothing wrong with ignorance. The danger comes when one doesn't understand that he's ignorant. In Yachty's defense, the Quality Control artist never claimed to have all of the answers anyway. He's just a kid enjoying life.

To pile up more assets on Yachty's child-like veracity, the voice of today's outcasted teenagers never fell victim to the monstrous ghouls of peer-pressure. He doesn’t smoke or drink. Well, he may have tried it a few times, but drugs are not his forte. Furthermore, the rapper born Miles Parks McCollum (who lost his virginity at 17 years old), isn't a product of the crime-infested sections of Atlanta. His dad isn’t tucked away carrying out large prison numbers behind the G-Wall. His mother isn't struggling with drug addiction or any other familiar narratives that pop up in many of today's rap songs. Still, the rising rapper isn’t exempt from the ills of the world.

“When I was in college, I used to get laughed at because of my hair, I couldn’t get a girl. I really hated school. I knew that I wanted to make music,”  Yachty says to VIBE on Thursday night at the Samsung Galaxy Book launch party at Samsung 837 in the Meatpacking District in NYC (June 14).

"The Samsung Galaxy Book is a 2-in-1 device as powerful as a laptop but as mobile as a tablet, delivering productivity and agility that today’s creators and entrepreneurs need.” said Alanna Cotton, Vice President of Mobile Computing Marketing at Samsung Electronics America to VIBE via e-mail.

After discussing his grueling days as a college student and how the new Samsung Galaxy Book helps his creative juices flow, Lil Boat recalled the fear he experienced when he decided to pursue his rap dreams.

“Dropping out of college was the scariest. My mom wasn’t happy about that. She is telling me that I can’t live in her house. I don’t have any money in my pocket and no car, and no job and no degree," he says. "That was scary. But I needed that to give me ambition. Some people get comfortable, and lose their ambition."

With a few dollars and loads of eagerness, Yachty did what he does best: stayed true to self. He moved to New York--despite naysayers at Alabama State University, or his mom barking at his decision to drop out of college-- and divulged a plan to make his name pop like bottles of D'USSE.

“I felt that it was important to build relationships. I slept on a friend's couch in New York. I wanted true genuine relationships before saying, ‘check out my mixtape, or watch my video.’ Before I did that, I built friendships to where people wanted to genuinely support me," he says. "When I started releasing music and showing them, they were supportive. They showed their people, and it was like I had a street team. They worked twice as hard like I was paying a promotional team.”

The plan worked out well, too. Not long after landing in the Rotten Apple, Lil Boat landed a guest modeling spot--with the help of Ian Connor-- at Kanye West's 2016  Yeezy Season 3 show at Madison Square Garden. Shortly after YS3, Yachty's smash underground hit "One Night" went viral, followed by his guest appearance on D.R.A.M.'s 2016 hit "Broccoli."

"The Internet is kind of crazy. You really don’t have to do too much. I made a song and it kind of went viral," he says. "And after that happened, I treated it like a brand. It’s so much more to life than one aspect. People in their field think, ‘Well this is what I’m good at, so this is what I’ll do.’ But no one is built to do just one thing. You can do so many things and get so much money. And, I just wanted to do more than music. I knew I liked to talk so I wanted to be a spokesman. I liked clothes so I wanted to design clothes."

Fast forward to 2017, the Sailing Team rep--with friends/rappers producers, Burberry Perry and K$upreme- is under the guidance of music veteran Coach K's Quality Control Records/Capitol. And he's living out all of his dreams. There's the Target and Sprite commercials as well as the appointment to creative designer at the popular clothing brand, Nautica, where Yachty will help design clothes.

When asked why Yachty's persona is so magnetic, Coach K -- who previously guided the careers of Jeezy and Gucci Mane -- said that it's Yachty's realness that makes him a star.

"With Yachty, he’s just honest, and original," the co-founder of QC says to VIBE.  "It’s crazy because I’ve been knowing Miles when he was a little boy, me and his dad are friends. But we kind of separated for a minute. But when I met him as Lil Yachty--from the first time I heard his music--someone played me his music and they said, 'Coach, you might like it. It’s a little weird.' I heard the music and I said, 'Find him for me.' And once I saw what he looked like I said, 'He's a star because he’s not scared of who he is. He’s cool with his skin.' A lot of times rappers take on personas. They take on these personas that they have to live by. But with Yachty it’s a sense of honesty. This is who I am. And this is what it is."

Despite the fame, the hate continues. Rap purists refer to Yachty--as well as contemporary Lil Uzi Vert--of being leaders of "mumble rap." The classification doesn't sit well with many hip-hop heads from the '90s era. In fact, Budden and Ebro openly said that they're not fans of Yachty's music, but they think that he's a great human being.

Recently, the 19-year-old rapper released his debut album, Teenage Emotions to less-than-spectacular sales. First week numbers stopped with 46,000 units. As a response, he penned a moving letter to fans thanking them for their continued support. But what are opening sales to today's millennial rap artists anyway? Do they really matter? Not to Yachty.

"Man, this has made me a stronger individual. I go through a lot of s**t. A lot of hatred. Just negativity for no reason," he says. "But I have never, and probably never will understand why. It makes me realize that everyone is not going to be as positive and as happy as me. But I can’t let that break my inner vibe, my aura. In a way, this is making me a happier person. I just stay positive. And if I got a 40,000 fan base, then I’ll make music for them. I don’t care, I’m blessed. I’m cool."

Spoken like a man who's comfortable in his own skin.

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Tobe Nwigwe wowed the crowd with a live musical performance at the McDonald’s Black & Positively Golden experience at BETX.
BET Expereience

Tobe Nwigwe's Southern Raps At The BET Experience Are Marinaded With Purpose

Thanks to Tobe Nwigwe, Houston’s presence could not be denied at this year’s batch of BET Experience events in Los Angeles. Sporting his signature sock/slippers combo and a mic in his hand, the Nigerian-American storyteller took the stage Friday (June 21) to perform some of his most revolutionary and captivating tracks.

There’s the lyrical strike that is “Ten Toes” and “Against the Grain” made popular from his #GetTwistedSundays series, a keen exploration of Houston. With a new batch of ears and hearts open to his music, the Nigerian-American rapper is at ease with his new purpose.

“I understand my purpose now. I understand that to do what I’m doing now is all of my life,” Nwigwe tells VIBE before taking the stage for McDonald’s Black & Positively Golden event which showcases music’s ability to continue the cultural narratives of the Black experience in America.

Before he was shining on BET Cyphers, performing at the Roots Picnic or delivering projects like Three Originals, Nwigwe had dreams of entering the NFL. Those plans were redirected after a physical injury during his senior year at the University of North Texas. The incident served as a catalyst for the rapper to transform his energy into purposeful rap for his hometown, Houston.

“That’s why I’m due diligent, persistent, and focused on what I’m doing because I understand the call of my life,” he added while speaking about his partnership with McDonald’s platform. “I just really like what the Black and Positively Golden theme is. Being bold, being brilliant, being resilient. I like the black community, I love it. I feel like black people are the most influential people in the world.”


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A post shared by Tobe Nwigwe (@tobenwigwe) on Jun 2, 2019 at 8:12am PDT

Houston’s re-emergence into mainstream hip hop culture, from a cultural enclave to an emergent regional capital in Southern rap lineage is evident acts like Megan Thee Stallion and Tobe Nwigwe. Draped in diasporic apparel and perched on a horse in the Texas countryside, Nwigwe is representative of the city’s rich ethnic demographic, and fusion of two Black sub-cultures into one told through the oral traditions of hip hop.

Nwigwe is currently dressed in all black, but it wouldn’t be without purpose. In small but noticeable text, his shirt says, “Mental Health is Crucial.” The fit speaks highly of intentions as an advocate for black youth. Nwigwe’s love for his community extends beyond the reaches of rap into the worlds of non-profit advocacy and mentorship. He’s the co-founder of TeamGINI, “Gini Bu Nkpa Gi?,” an Igbo saying meaning, “What’s Your Purpose?”

“I understand what people where I come from need,” he explains. “I feel that. I understand the void, so I do my best to play a role in being a part of the solution.”

His spiritual beliefs were highlighted in The Rap Map: Meet 5 Talented Artists From Houston featured on DJBooth. An ideology rooted in community-based upliftment drew motivational speaker Eric Thomas to sign Nwigwe for ETA Records, and establish a partnership focused on the implementation of solutions-focused rap for youth in neighborhoods across the United States, impacted by the terrors of community disinvestment, and high rates of violence.

Nwigwe recalled the outpouring of love experienced at one of his recent hometown shows. “I had the biggest crowd ever on my court at home," he proudly boasted in a Houston drawl. "I had over 3,000 people at a show with no openers, none of that. The mayor came out and gave me a dap, so it’s just a lot of love at home. There's like nothing better than being received well in your hometown, where you grew up and got all your influence from. It’s, wherever I go I wear Alief, I wear SWAT, I wear Houston on me like a badge of honor.”

His authenticity is felt throughout his setlist, a musical arrangement with a live band, background vocals from Beaumont-raised LHITNEY, and surprise guest performance from NELL, a frequent collaborator and producer on his music projects.

Nwigwe's purpose for the weekend was complete–he brought Houston to Los Angeles. “Make purpose popular,” Nwigwe’s mantra for his musicality sounds like a tagline from your local conscious rapper, but the intention in how the Houston rapper uses music as a space for community messaging is rooted in genuine Houston hospitality.

Stream Nwigwe’s latest release, “Searching” below.

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Queen Of Hip-Hop Soul And Hits: 15 Of Mary J. Blige's Best Songs

Since bursting onto the scene in 1992 asking us What’s the 411?, Mary J. Blige has kept her foot on our necks and provided the soundtrack for most of our lives. Although she’s faced her fair share of heartaches, heartbreaks, and hardships, Mary never let her personal life or the pressures of the music industry keep her from becoming a master of her craft. Who knew the little girl from Yonkers would go on to be not just music but entertainment royalty? She has secured numerous endorsement deals with M.A.C., Pepsi, Target and more while also conquering both the small and big screen, even being nominated for two Academy Awards for her role in the critically-acclaimed film, Mudbound. After countless nominations over the years for categories like Best R&B Artist and Best song, an unprecedented number of Billboard and Grammy Awards, over 75 million records sold worldwide and so much more, she shows no signs of stopping.

This Sunday (June 23), she will add to her repertoire when she’s honored at the 19th annual BET Awards ceremony with a Lifetime Achievement Award for her exceptional body of work across genres and industries. And the undisputed ESSENCE Festival favorite will also hit New Orleans to commemorate the festival’s 25th anniversary while also celebrating 25 years of her iconic 1994 album, My Life.

To honor the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul and her indelible catalogue of hits, let’s take a look at 15 of our favorite MJB songs through the years.

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Black Music Month: 36 Best Black Movie Soundtracks You Should Know

Let's face it, the debate for the best movie soundtrack of all time will never end.

There are too many black soundtracks that are beyond icon status. Some include Diana Ross' epic portrayal of Billie Holiday for Lady Sings The Blues, the carefully curated funk and soul collection for Dead Presidents and Whitney Houston's power vocals all over The Bodyguard soundtrack.

Jamie Foxx didn't seem to realize the debate he sparked on Twitter this week when he raised the question about the best soundtracks of all time. It became a trending topic with fans throwing in their favorites like Prince (Purple Rain and Batman respectively), Whitney Houston (Waiting to Exhale), Babyface (Boomerang), Dr. Dre (Above The Rim) and so many more.

Best movie soundtracks of all time? Go... #BeatShazam

— Jamie Foxx (@iamjamiefoxx) June 18, 2019

There are plenty of other movie soundtracks worth noting, but with June being Black Music Month, it's only right we paid homage to some of the most important and underrated soundtracks of all time.

In no particular order, here are some of our favorites.

Additional contributors include Lola Jacobs, Jessica McKinney, J'na Jefferson, Keith Murphy, Xavier Hamilton, Sierra Brown, Beatriz da Costa, and Richy Rosario. 

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