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.