The self-proclaimed "King of Teens" stresses positivity -- and a healthy dose of weirdness.
"My whole vibe is different" from other rappers, says Lil Yachty. This is an understatement coming from a boat-obsessed, straight-edge 19-year-old from the 'burbs who admits that he "honestly couldn't name five songs" by hip-hop heroes Tupac and Biggie. "But if I'm doing this my way and making all this money," he reasonably inquires, "why should I do it how everybody says it's supposed to be done?"
Like Rae Sremmurd, the Atlanta duo whose tour he will open on this fall, the rapper born Miles McCollum has built a following by gleefully defying categorization. He's optimistic, narcissistic, flashily irreverent, an Atlanta-area native in the left-of-center lineage of acts like OutKast, with a key difference: Softness, not bombast, defines his sound. Yachty calls it "bubble-gum trap": a mix of Auto-Tuned warbling, rhymes equally motivational and puerile, 808 beats and whimsical melodies often plinked on piano or (before legal got involved) cribbed from kiddie fare like Super Mario 64 and '90s cartoon Rugrats. About "Minnesota," an early cut in which he attempts a delicate falsetto over chiming keys, Yachty says, "Even my friends said that song was wack" -- though it was good enough for Young Thug and Migos' Quavo to guest on a remix. "I'm an emotional person," he says. "I'm not going to deny that. If I feel a certain way, I'll express it on the track."