How Lil Yachty Got His Second Act
RollingStone India|May 2021
Five years ago, the rapper garnered the title ‘King of the Teens’ — and a lot of criticism. Today, he’s a mentor and a mogul
JEFF IHAZA

Until the pandemic, Lil Yachty never stopped to think about how quick-ly he became famous. “It was a full year from walking across the stage in high school to then I’m in this penthouse in midtown Atlanta, I got this G-wagon, put my mother in a house,” Yachty explains. “It’s a fast life. You not ever getting the chance to think about a lot of shit.”

Yachty’s 2016 hit “Minnesota,” which had the treacly energy of a nursery rhyme, earned the then-17-year-old the title “King of the Teens.” But since then, he’s become an elder statesman of a certain brand of young superstar — and something like the Gen Z answer to Diddy. He collaborated with brands like Nautica and Target; he appeared in the movie How High 2; he signed an endorsement deal with Sprite. Signees to his new label imprint, Concrete Boys, even get an iced-out chain.

Yachty’s upcoming mixtape, Michigan Boat Boy, is an ode to the state where a new crop of MCs is currently restitching the fabric of modern hip-hop. It’s also a testament to one of the 23-year-old rapper’s greatest gifts: his ear for talent. “I started doing my own homework and digging,” Yachty explains. “And just started realizing there are no bad rappers in Michigan. Everyone knows how to rap.” For all of the criticisms of Yachty as a lyricist over the years — rap purists loudly disdained him early on — there’s a clear sense of progression on tracks like “Royal Rumble.” The wordplay is punchier, and the wisecracks are wittier. He fires offlines that fit perfectly alongside the Michigan rappers’ clever bars. He even manages to land a pun about The Grudge.

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