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Lil Yachty Becomes A Father After Welcoming Baby Girl

Lil Yachty Joins #GirlDad Club After Welcoming 1st Child - But Who's The Mother?

Lil Yachty might want to consider dropping the “Lil” from his name after becoming a father for the first time.

According to TMZ , the 24-year-old Atlanta rapper welcomed the birth of his first child, a daughter, in the last few weeks. Sources say he’s been spending time with his baby girl in New York City, where she was born.

Lil Yachty is a father for the first time. — TMZ (@TMZ) October 20, 2021

The identity of the child’s mother has yet to be revealed and it’s unclear whether Lil Yachty is still in a relationship with the mother. The Quality Control rapper was most recently linked to New York-based fashion designer Selangie , although it’s believed the couple split earlier this year.

Lil Yachty has been keeping his bundle of joy a secret on social media, with no mention of her birth (or his baby mama’s pregnancy) on his Instagram or Twitter feeds. However, Yachty did share a photo of himself posted up in Manhattan last week.

View this post on Instagram A post shared by ^CONCRETE BOY BOAT^ ?? (@lilyachty)

The only allusion Yachty has made to becoming a father came back in August when he tweeted a video of Big Boi performing his baby mama drama-filled verse on Outkast’s “Ms. Jackson,” along with the caption, “A flawless verse.” Although it’s entirely possible Lil Boat just loves the song.

A flawless verse.. @BigBoi — concrete boy boat (@lilyachty) August 10, 2021

Lil Yachty has certainly been putting himself in a position to provide for his newborn daughter. Aside from his multi-platinum rap career, the 24-year-old entered the $1.5 trillion wellness industry earlier this year by investing in the plant-based nutritional supplement brand PlantFuel alongside NFL Hall of Famer Terrell Owens.

Previously, Yachty plunged $1 million into the popular Jewish dating app Lox Club through his and Bhad Bhabie’s Scoop Investments venture capital fund.

lil yachty kid

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Lil Yachty Breaks Down His $50K Monthly Expenses To Gillie Da Kid & Wallo267's ‘Million Dollaz Worth of Game’ Podcast

March 22, 2021

On the music tip, Lil Yachty recently dropped a new song called “ Believing ” as part of Pokémon 25: The Album , a project celebrating the 25th anniversary of the iconic Japanese franchise. He also jumped on a remix of Tame Impala’s “Breathe Deeper,” taken from the band’s forthcoming release The Slow Rush Deluxe (out February 18).

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lil yachty kid

Lil Yachty is a girl dad, TMZ reports. According to the outlet, the 24-year-old welcomed his first child, a baby girl, earlier this month in New York City. Yachty has reportedly been staying in the city for the past few weeks to care for his newborn daughter. So far, the rapper hasn’t disclosed who the child’s mother is and hasn’t posted publicly about his daughter online.

Although Yachty hasn’t confirmed the news, fans jumped to congratulate the Atlanta native on Wednesday (Oct. 20).

“Lil Yachty is gonna be a good dad,” one person wrote on Twitter.

“Lil Yachty had a kid before [Lil] Uzi [Vert] OMG Lil Yachty is a dad now??!!! I’m so happy for him holy shit,” another wrote.

While Yachty is reportedly on daddy duty now, that doesn’t mean he hasn’t made time to share new music with his fans. The Lil Boat 3 crafter recently appeared on Pokémon 25: The Album with his single, “Believing.”

Back in August, Yachty also celebrated his birthday with his new mixtape, Birthday Mix 6, which saw appearances from Lil Tecca and SoFaygo. Since then, he’s shared videos for “Lord of the Beans,” “TUNDE,” “Rocc Climbing” and dropped his own remix of Tame Impala’s song, “Breathe Deeper.”

Besides new music, Yachty has also recently made headlines for his investments. Over the summer, he and Bhad Bhabie teamed up to invest $1 million in the Jewish dating app , The Lox Club. In May, Yachty also released his own line of gender-inclusive nail polish .

“It’s essentially like… unisex, but I want it to be more focused on for men to use it and to be more comfortable in their own skin ,” he told TMZ prior to the nail polish’s launch. “Because bro… come on. What are barriers? We still have barriers?”

See fans’ reaction to the news on Twitter below. Congrats, Yachty !

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Lil Yachty

Lil Yachty On His Big Rock Pivot: ‘F-ck Any of the Albums I Dropped Before This One’

With his adventurous, psychedelic new album, 'Let's Start Here,' he's left mumble rap behind — and finally created a project he's proud of.

By Lyndsey Havens

Lyndsey Havens

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Lil Yachty, presented by Doritos, will perform at Billboard Presents The Stage at SXSW on March 16 .

Lil Yachty: Photos From the Billboard Cover Shoot

Someone has sparked a blunt in the planetarium.

It may be a school night, but no one has come to the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, N.J., to learn. Instead, the hundreds of fans packed into the domed theater on Jan. 26 have come to hear Lil Yachty’s latest album as he intended: straight through — and with an open mind. Or, as Yachty says with a mischievous smile: “I hope y’all took some sh-t.”

For the next 57 minutes and 16 seconds, graphics of exploding spaceships, green giraffes and a quiet road through Joshua Tree National Park accompany Yachty’s sonically divergent — and at this point, unreleased — fifth album, Let’s Start Here . For a psychedelic rock project that plays like one long song, the visual aids not only help attendees embrace the bizarre, but also function as a road map for Yachty’s far-out trip, signaling that there is, in fact, a tracklist.

It’s a night the artist has arguably been waiting for his whole career — to finally release an album he feels proud of. An album that was, he says, made “from scratch” with all live instrumentation. An album that opens with a nearly seven-minute opus, “the BLACK seminole.,” that he claims he had to fight most of his collaborative team to keep as one, not two songs. An album that, unlike his others, has few features and is instead rich with co-writers like Mac DeMarco, Nick Hakim, Alex G and members of MGMT, Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Chairlift. An album he believes will finally earn him the respect and recognition he has always sought.

Sitting in a Brooklyn studio in East Williamsburg not far from where he made most of Let’s Start Here in neighboring Greenpoint, it’s clear he has been waiting to talk about this project in depth for some time. Yachty is an open book, willing to answer anything — and share any opinion. (Especially on the slice of pizza he has been brought, which he declares “tastes like ass.”) Perhaps his most controversial take at the moment? “F-ck any of the albums I dropped before this one.”

His desire to move on from his past is understandable. When Yachty entered the industry in his mid-teens with his 2016 major-label debut, the Lil Boat mixtape, featuring the breakout hit “One Night,” he found that along with fame came sailing the internet’s choppy waters. Skeptics often took him to task for not knowing — or caring, maybe — about rap’s roots, and he never shied away from sharing hot takes on Twitter. With his willingness and ability to straddle pop and hip-hop, Yachty produced music he once called “bubble-gum trap” (he has since denounced that phrase) that polarized audiences and critics. Meanwhile, his nonchalant delivery got him labeled as a mumble rapper — another identifier he was never fond of because it felt dismissive of his talent.

“There’s a lot of kids who haven’t heard any of my references,” he continues. “They don’t know anything about Bon Iver or Pink Floyd or Black Sabbath or James Brown. I wanted to show people a different side of me — and that I can do anything, most importantly.”

Let’s Start Here is proof. Growing up in Atlanta, the artist born Miles McCollum was heavily influenced by his father, a photographer who introduced him to all kinds of sounds. Yachty, once easily identifiable by his bright red braids, found early success by posting songs like “One Night” to SoundCloud, catching the attention of Kevin “Coach K” Lee, co-founder/COO of Quality Control Music, now home to Migos, Lil Baby and City Girls. In 2015, Coach K began managing Yachty, who in summer 2016 signed a joint-venture deal with Motown, Capitol Records and Quality Control.

“Yachty was me when I was 18 years old, when I signed him. He was actually me,” says Coach K today. (In 2021, Adam Kluger, whose clients include Bhad Bhabie, began co-managing Yachty.) “All the eclectic, different things, we shared that with each other. He had been wanting to make this album from the first day we signed him. But you know — coming as a hip-hop artist, you have to play the game.”

Yachty played it well. To date, he has charted 17 songs on the Billboard Hot 100 , including two top 10 hits for his features on DRAM’s melodic 2016 smash “Broccoli” and Kyle’s 2017 pop-rap track “iSpy.” His third-highest-charting entry arrived unexpectedly last year: the 93-second “Poland,” a track Yachty recorded in about 10 minutes where his warbly vocals more closely resemble singing than rapping. ( Let’s Start Here collaborator SADPONY saw “Poland” as a temperature check that proved “people are going to like this Yachty.”)

Beginning with 2016’s Lil Boat mixtape, all eight of Yachty’s major-label-released albums and mixtapes have charted on the Billboard 200 . Three have entered the top 10, including Let’s Start Here , which debuted and peaked at No. 9. And while Yachty has only scored one No. 1 album before ( Teenage Emotions topped Rap Album Sales), Let’s Start Here debuted atop three genre charts: Top Rock & Alternative Albums , Top Rock Albums and Top Alternative Albums .

“It feels good to know that people in that world received this so well,” says Motown Records vp of A&R Gelareh Rouzbehani. “I think it’s a testament to Yachty going in and saying, ‘F-ck what everyone thinks. I’m going to create something that I’ve always wanted to make — and let us hope the world f-cking loves it.’ ”

Yet despite Let’s Start Here ’s many high-profile supporters, some longtime detractors and fans alike were quick to criticize certain aspects of it, from its art — Yachty quote-tweeted one remark , succinctly replying, “shut up” — to the music itself. Once again, he found himself facing another tidal wave of discourse. But this time, he was ready to ride it. “This release,” Kluger says, “gave him a lot of confidence.”

“I was always kind of nervous to put out music, but now I’m on some other sh-t,” Yachty says. “It was a lot of self-assessing and being very real about not being happy with where I was musically, knowing I’m better than where I am. Because the sh-t I was making did not add up to the sh-t I listened to.

“I just wanted more,” he continues. “I want to be remembered. I want to be respected.”

Last spring, Lil Yachty gathered his family, collaborators and team at famed Texas studio complex Sonic Ranch.

“I remember I got there at night and drove down because this place is like 30 miles outside El Paso,” Coach K says. “I walked in the room and just saw all these instruments and sh-t, and the vibe was just so ill. And I just started smiling. All the producers were in the room, his assistant, his dad. Yachty comes in, puts the album on. We got to the second song, and I told everybody, ‘Stop the music.’ I walked over to him and just said, ‘Man, give me a hug.’ I was like, ‘Yachty, I am so proud of you.’ He came into the game bold, but [to make] this album, you have to be very bold. And to know that he finally did it, it was overwhelming.”

SADPONY (aka Jeremiah Raisen) — who executive-produced Let’s Start Here and, in doing so, spent nearly eight straight months with Yachty — says the time at Sonic Ranch was the perfect way to cap off the months of tunnel vision required while making the album in Brooklyn. “That was new alone,” says Yachty. “I’ve recorded every album in Atlanta at [Quality Control]. That was the first time I recorded away from home. First time I recorded with a new engineer,” Miles B.A. Robinson, a Saddle Creek artist.

Yachty couldn’t wait to put it out, and says he turned it in “a long time ago. I think it was just label sh-t and trying to figure out the right time to release it.” For Coach K, it was imperative to have the physical product ready on release date, given that Yachty had made “an experience” of an album. And lately, most pressing plants have an average turnaround time of six to eight months.

Fans, however, were impatient. On Christmas, one month before Let’s Start Here would arrive, the album leaked online. It was dubbed Sonic Ranch . “Everyone was home with their families, so no one could pull it off the internet,” recalls Yachty. “That was really depressing and frustrating.”

Then, weeks later, the album art, tracklist and release date also leaked. “My label made a mistake and sent preorders to Amazon too early, and [the site] posted it,” Yachty says. “So I wasn’t able to do the actual rollout for my album that I wanted to. Nothing was a secret anymore. It was all out. I had a whole plan that I had to cancel.” He says the biggest loss was various videos he made to introduce and contextualize the project, all of which “were really weird … [But] I wasn’t introducing it anymore. People already knew.” Only one, called “Department of Mental Tranquility,” made it out, just days before the album.

Yachty says he wasn’t necessarily seeking a mental escape before making Let’s Start Here , but confesses that acid gave him one anyway. “I guess maybe the music went along with it,” he says. The album title changed four or five times, he says, from Momentary Bliss (“It was meant to take you away from reality … where you’re truly listening”) to 180 Degrees (“Because it’s the complete opposite of anything I’ve ever done, but people were like, ‘It’s too on the nose’ ”) to, ultimately, Let’s Start Here — the best way, he decided, to succinctly summarize where he was as an artist: a seven-year veteran, but at 25 years old, still eager to begin a new chapter.

Taking inspiration from Dark Side , Yachty relied on three women’s voices throughout the album, enlisting Fousheé, Justine Skye and Diana Gordon. Otherwise, guest vocals are spare. Daniel Caesar features on album closer “Reach the Sunshine.,” while the late Bob Ross (of The Joy of Painting fame) has a historic posthumous feature on “We Saw the Sun!”

Rouzbehani tells Billboard that Ross’ estate declined Yachty’s request at first: “I think a big concern of theirs was that Yachty is known as a rapper, and Bob Ross and his brand are very clean. They didn’t want to associate with anything explicit.” But Yachty was adamant, and Rouzbehani played the track for Ross’ team and also sent the entire album’s lyrics to set the group at ease. “With a lot of back-and-forth, we got the call,” she says. “Yachty is the first artist that has gotten a Bob Ross clearance in history.”

From the start, Coach K believed Let’s Start Here would open lots of doors for Yachty — and ultimately, other artists, too. Questlove may have said it best, posting the album art on Instagram with a lengthy caption that read in part: “this lp might be the most surprising transition of any music career I’ve witnessed in a min, especially under the umbrella of hip hop … Sh-t like this (envelope pushing) got me hyped about music’s future.”

Recently, Lil Yachty held auditions for an all-women touring band. “It was an experience for like Simon Cowell or Randy [Jackson],” he says, offering a simple explanation for the choice: “In my life, women are superheroes.”

And according to Yachty, pulling off his show will take superhuman strength: “Because the show has to match the album. It has to be big.” As eager as he was to release Let’s Start Here , he’s even more antsy to perform it live — but planning a tour, he says, required gauging the reaction to it. “This is so new for me, and to be quite honest with you, the label [didn’t] know how [the album] would do,” he says. “Also, I haven’t dropped an album in like three years. So we don’t even know how to plan a tour right now because it has been so long and my music is so different.”

While Yachty’s last full-length studio album, Lil Boat 3 , arrived in 2020, he released the Michigan Boy Boat mixtape in 2021, a project as reverential of the state’s flourishing hip-hop scenes in Detroit and Flint as Let’s Start Here is of its psych-rock touchstones. And though he claims he doesn’t do much with his days, his recent accomplishments, both musical and beyond, suggest otherwise. He launched his own cryptocurrency, YachtyCoin, at the end of 2020; signed his first artist, Draft Day, to his Concrete Boyz label at the start of 2021; invested in the Jewish dating app Lox Club; and launched his own line of frozen pizza, Yachty’s Pizzeria, last September. (He has famously declared he has never eaten a vegetable; at his Jersey City listening event, there was an abundance of candy, doughnut holes and Frosted Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop-Tarts.)

But there are only two things that seem to remotely excite him, first and foremost of which is being a father. As proud as he is of Let’s Start Here , he says it comes in second to having his now 1-year-old daughter — though he says with a laugh that she “doesn’t really give a f-ck” about his music yet. “I haven’t played [this album] for her, but her mom plays her my old stuff,” he continues. “The mother of my child is Dominican and Puerto Rican, so she loves Selena — she plays her a lot . [We watch] the Selena movie with Jennifer Lopez a sh-t ton and a lot of Disney movie sh-t, like Frozen , Lion King and that type of vibe.”

Aside from being a dad, he most cares about working with other artists. Recently, he flew eight of his biggest fans — most of whom he has kept in touch with for years — to Atlanta. He had them over, played Let’s Start Here , took them to dinner and bowling, introduced them to his mom and dad, and then showed them a documentary he made for the album. (He’s not sure if he’ll release it.) One of the fans is an aspiring rapper; naturally, the two made a song together.

Yachty wants to keep working with artists and producers outside of hip-hop, mentioning the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and even sharing his dream of writing a ballad for Elton John. (“I know I could write him a beautiful song.”) With South Korean music company HYBE’s recent purchase of Quality Control — a $300 million deal — Yachty’s realm of possibility is bigger than ever.

But he’s not ruling out his genre roots. Arguably, Let’s Start Here was made for the peers and heroes he played it for first — and was inspired by hip-hop’s chameleons. “I would love to do a project with Tyler [The Creator],” says Yachty. “He’s the reason I made this album. He’s the one who told me to do it, just go for it. He’s so confident and I have so much respect for him because he takes me seriously, and he always has.”

Penske Media Corp. is the largest shareholder of SXSW ; its brands are official media partners of SXSW.

This story originally appeared in the March 11, 2023, issue of Billboard.

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lil yachty kid

"No one writes my lyrics EVER" - Kid Cudi dispels rumor Lil Yachty shared songwriting credit for his song Superboy

G rammy Award-winning artist Kid Cudi has come forward to address false claims regarding the songwriting credits for his hit track Superboy .

On May 7, 2024, Cudi replied to a fan on X and unequivocally asserted that he was the sole creative force behind the lyrics of Superboy . However, rumors had suggested that fellow rapper Lil Yachty was involved in the writing process and deserved songwriting credit for the popular song. Kid Cudi is adamant that this is not the case -

"No one writes my lyrics EVER. Every song U have ever heard from me, I wrote," he replied on X.

During discussions on X, a few observers speculated that Kid Cudi's recent statement is a subtle reference to Drake, who has faced ghostwriting allegations. Cudi denied the reference.

Scott Ramon Seguro Mescudi, known as Kid Cudi, is an American rapper. He is famous for his autobiographical lyrics, describing childhood experiences, loneliness, heartbreak, and spirituality. His major hits include Just What I Am , Cudi Zone , Day N Nite , and Soundtrack 2 My Life .

Kid Cudi dismisses allegations of songwriting collaboration with Lil Yachty

In a candid discussion on X, Cudi's fan tweeted that if Cudi and Jaden's rumored upcoming new album had a Lil Yachty collab, it would be a banger, as he had produced two of Cudi's songs, including Superboy . In response, a fan wrote that he saw Yachty under the writer's credit for Superboy .

Kid Cudi came in to dispel any misinformation surrounding the origins of Superboy and reaffirm his commitment to authenticity in his artistry. Referring to the credits, Cudi suggested the names fans see on the list can be "confusing" and names are of "usually producers" -

"The credits on songs can be confusing when u see all those names, and its usually producers of the song or sample."

On the same day, Cudi tweeted a separate post suggesting he is the sole writer of all 12 albums. He expressed the feeling as "powerful" -

"Its a really powerful feeling knowing I wrote the lyrics on all 12 of my albums."

Under the tweet, a fan humorously suggested that the Erase Me artist is referring to Drake . Kid Cudi then clarified he did not want to diss anyone, but it is a straightforward declaration of factual accuracy following confusion that Lil Yachty wrote his lyrics -

"Man me speakin my truth is not me dissing anyone. Its my truth. Its a fact. This came up cuz someone was talkin like yachty wrote my verse on Superboy. Just wanted to address it and make it 100% clear," Cudi replied.

This instance is not the first time Kid Cudi had to address his association with Drake. In 2022, during an interview with Esquire, Cudi, discussing his relationship with Ye, suggested that he is "not Drake", who can be friends again with someone he had beefed with. Later, he took X to clarify his statement, implying that Drake can be "lil nicer" and that he was not throwing at him -

"Just to be clear, I wasnt tryna throw a shot at Drake. I got love 4 him. My point I was tryna make is that im not so forgiving. Meaning he might be a lil nicer than me in that situation w dude. Thats all. Maybe that came off wrong thru my words. So yea, all good w Drake."

In the tweet earlier this week, the fan referenced Drake in the discussion because many rappers, including Kendrick Lamar , have accused Drake of ghostwriting and using AI in his lyrics. In 2015, Meek Mill first alleged that Drake used a ghostwriter to pen his verse in their collaboration R.I.C.O .

Also, most recently, on April 15, 2024, Rick Ross accused Lil Yachty of writing for Drake . The allegations came after when an early version of Drake's song Her Loss, alternatively titled Jumbotron Shit Poppin , recorded by Lil Yachty, surfaced online without authorization. Ross took to his Instagram and called Yachty, Drake's "pen" -

"Yacht, Put ya phone on silent lil bro. #BBLDRIZZY CALLING AGAIN. YACHT AKA THE PEN."

Disputes often arise in the hip-hop industry, yet Kid Cudi has stated that he does not disparage anyone in his tweets.

After falling at the Coachella festival and breaking his foot, Kid Cudi has postponed his INSANO World Tour until further notice.

"No one writes my lyrics EVER" - Kid Cudi dispels rumor Lil Yachty shared songwriting credit for his song Superboy

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Kid Cudi Praises Lil Yachty as 'What I Hoped for in the Next Generation'

The two artists recently worked together on Cudder's new album 'INSANO.'

Kid Cudi is singing Lil Yachty ’s praises.

Cudder recently dropped off his album INSANO , which features Lil Boat on the track “Too Damn High.”

The 39-year-old “Day ‘N’ Nite” rapper spoke more about working with the Atlanta native, describing how he sees himself in 26-year-old Yachty.

lil yachty kid

View this video on YouTube

“There's new people that I'm working with like Yachty, of course, who I've learned that we have crazy chemistry on record as well,” Cudi told Zane Lowe for Apple Music at around the 36:30 minute mark above. “There's something going on with me and Yachty…just more music between me and him. We're trying to figure something out.”

Cudi continued, “Every so often I'll work with somebody and be like, ‘Oh my God, he's like me.’ He has powers. Yachty got powers. And when we were sitting there, we must've banged out three, four songs. So there's a little bit more of Yachty on the deluxe and he sounds amazing. His range is crazy. It reminds me [of] what I hoped for the next generation. It reminds me of the type of shit I was on when I was younger and just trying to explore and just be different and not have people knowing my next move.”

Yachty was one of seven creators who spoke to Eric Diep for the 2019 Complex piece “They Reminisce: How Kid Cudi Inspired a Generation,” emphasizing how much Cudder has always inspired him.

“I’m a super-huge fan, and I've been listening to Cudi since I was a kid. ... I’m super appreciative of everything he’s done and for being himself, because it helped me grow up as a man and opened up my creativity," said the Let's Start Here artist. "He’s a big part of why I wanted to act, because he started acting. Even with modeling. I definitely appreciate him for being him so I could be me.”

Cudi released INSANO just last week, boasting features from DJ Drama, Travis Scott, ASAP Rocky, Pharrell, Lil Wayne, Young Thug, and XXXTentacion.

Watch Cudi’s entire interview up top.


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How Lil Yachty Ended Up at His Excellent New Psychedelic Album Let's Start Here

By Brady Brickner-Wood

Lil Yachty attends Wicked Featuring 21 Savage at Forbes Arena at Morehouse College on October 19 2022 in Atlanta Georgia.

The evening before Lil Yachty released his fifth studio album,  Let’s Start Here,  he  gathered an IMAX theater’s worth of his fans and famous friends at the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City and made something clear: He wanted to be taken seriously. Not just as a “Soundcloud rapper, not some mumble rapper, not some guy that just made one hit,” he told the crowd before pressing play on his album. “I wanted to be taken serious because music is everything to me.” 

There’s a spotty history of rappers making dramatic stylistic pivots, a history Yachty now joins with  Let’s Start Here,  a funk-flecked psychedelic rock album. But unlike other notable rap-to-rock faceplants—Kid Cudi’s  Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven  comes to mind, as does Lil Wayne’s  Rebirth —the record avoids hackneyed pastiche and gratuitous playacting and cash-grabbing crossover singles; instead, Yachty sounds unbridled and free, a rapper creatively liberated from the strictures of mainstream hip-hop. Long an oddball who’s delighted in defying traditional rap ethos and expectations,  Let’s Start Here  is a maximalist and multi-genre undertaking that rewrites the narrative of Yachty’s curious career trajectory. 

Admittedly, it’d be easy to write off the album as Tame Impala karaoke, a gimmicky record from a guy who heard Yves Tumor once and thought: Let’s do  that . But set aside your Yachty skepticism and probe the album’s surface a touch deeper. While the arrangements tend toward the obvious, the record remains an intricate, unraveling swell of sumptuous live instruments and reverb-drenched textures made more impressive by the fact that Yachty co-produced every song. Fielding support from an all-star cast of characters, including production work from former Chairlift member Patrick Wimberly, Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s Jacob Portrait, Justin Raisen, Nick Hakim, and Magdalena Bay, and vocals from Daniel Caesar, Diana Gordon,  Foushée , Justine Skye, and Teezo Touchdown, Yachty surrounds himself with a group of disparately talented collaborators. You can hear the acute attention to detail and wide-scale ambition in the spaced-out denouement on “We Saw the Sun!” or on the blistering terror of “I’ve Officially Lost Vision!!!!” or during the cool romanticism of “Say Something.” Though occasionally overindulgent,  Let’s Start Here  is a spectacular statement from hip-hop’s prevailing weirdo. It’s not shocking that Yachty took another hard left—but how exactly did he end up  here ?

In 2016, as the forefather of “bubblegum trap” ascended into mainstream consciousness, an achievement like  Let’s Start Here  would’ve seemed inconceivable. The then 18-year-old Yachty gained national attention when a pair of his songs, “One Night” and “Minnesota,” went viral. Though clearly indebted to hip-hop trailblazers Lil B, Chief Keef, and Young Thug, his work instantly stood apart from the gritted-teeth toughness of his Atlanta trap contemporaries. Yachty flaunted a childlike awe and cartoonish demeanor that communicated a swaggering, unbothered cool. His singsong flows and campy melodies contained a winking humor to them, a subversive playfulness that endeared him to a generation of very online kids who saw themselves in Yachty’s goofy, eccentric persona. He starred in Sprite  commercials alongside LeBron James, performed live shows at the  Museum of Modern Art , and modeled in Kanye West’s  Life of Pablo  listening event at Madison Square Garden. Relishing in his cultural influence, he declared to the  New York Times  that he was not a rapper but an  artist. “And I’m more than an artist,” he added. “I’m a brand.”

 As Sheldon Pearce pointed out in his Pitchfork  review of Yachty’s 2016 mixtape,  Lil Boat , “There isn’t a single thing Lil Yachty’s doing that someone else isn’t doing better, and in richer details.” He wasn’t wrong. While Yachty’s songs were charming and catchy (and, sometimes, convincing), his music was often tangential to his brand. What was the point of rapping as sharply as the Migos or singing as intensely as Trippie Redd when you’d inked deals with Nautica and Target, possessed a sixth-sense for going viral, and had incoming collaborations with Katy Perry and Carly Rae Jepsen? What mattered more was his presentation: the candy-red hair and beaded braids, the spectacular smile that showed rows of rainbow-bedazzled grills, the wobbly, weak falsetto that defaulted to a chintzy nursery rhyme cadence. He didn’t need technical ability or historical reverence to become a celebrity; he was a meme brought to life, the personification of hip-hop’s growing generational divide, a sudden star who, like so many other Soundcloud acts, seemed destined to crash and burn after a fleeting moment in the sun.

 One problem: the music wasn’t very good. Yachty’s debut album, 2017’s  Teenage Emotions, was a glitter-bomb of pop-rap explorations that floundered with shaky hooks and schmaltzy swings at crossover hits. Worse, his novelty began to fade, those sparkly, cheerful, and puerile bubblegum trap songs aging like day-old french fries. Even when he hued closer to hard-nosed rap on 2018’s  Lil Boat 2  and  Nuthin’ 2 Prove,  you could feel Yachty desperate to recapture the magic that once came so easily to him. But rap years are like dog years, and by 2020, Yachty no longer seemed so radically weird. He was an established rapper making mid mainstream rap. The only question now was whether we’d already seen the best of him.

If his next moves were any indication—writing the  theme song to the  Saved by the Bell  sitcom revival and announcing his involvement in an upcoming  movie based on the card game Uno—then the answer was yes. But in April 2021, Yachty dropped  Michigan Boat Boy,  a mixtape that saw him swapping conventional trap for Detroit and Flint’s fast-paced beats and plain-spoken flows. Never fully of a piece with his Atlanta colleagues, Yachty found a cohort of kindred spirits in Michigan, a troop of rappers whose humor, imagination, and debauchery matched his own. From the  looks of it, leaders in the scene like Babyface Ray, Rio Da Yung OG, and YN Jay embraced Yachty with open arms, and  Michigan Boat Boy  thrives off that communion. 

 Then “ Poland ” happened. When Yachty uploaded the minute-and-a-half long track to Soundcloud a few months back, he received an unlikely and much needed jolt. Building off the rage rap production he played with on the  Birthday Mix 6  EP, “Poland” finds Yachty’s warbling about carrying pharmaceutical-grade cough syrup across international borders, a conceit that captured the imagination of TikTok and beyond. Recorded as a joke and released only after a leaked version went viral, the song has since amassed over a hundred-millions streams across all platforms. With his co-production flourishes (and adlibs) splattered across Drake and 21 Savage’s  Her Loss,  fans had reason to believe that Yachty’s creative potential had finally clicked into focus.

 But  Let’s Start Here  sounds nothing like “Poland”—in fact, the song doesn’t even appear on the project. Instead, amid a tapestry of scabrous guitars, searing bass, and vibrant drums, Yachty sounds right at home on this psych-rock spectacle of an album. He rarely raps, but his singing often relies on the virtues of his rapping: those greased-vowel deliveries and unrushed cadences, the autotune-sheathed vibrato. “Pretty,” for instance, is decidedly  not  a rap song—but what is it, then? It’s indebted to trap as much as it is ’90s R&B and MGMT, its drugged-out drums and warm keys able to house an indeterminate amount of ideas.

Yachty didn’t need to abandon hip-hop to find himself as an artist, but his experimental impulses helped him craft his first great album. Perhaps this is his lone dalliance in psych rock—maybe a return to trap is imminent. Or, maybe, he’ll make another 180, or venture deeper into the dystopia of corporate sponsorships. Who’s to say? For now, it’s invigorating to see Yachty shake loose the baggage of his teenage virality and emerge more fully into his adult artistic identity. His guise as a boundary-pushing rockstar isn’t a new archetype, but it’s an archetype he’s infused with his glittery idiosyncrasies. And look what he’s done: he’s once again morphed into a star the world didn’t see coming.


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