Last Friday (April 21), Lil Yachty generated buzz after unveiling his album cover for his debut studio album, Teenage Emotions — and the chatter hasn’t stopped. The album art features Yachty in the center of a movie theater, surrounded by people not normally represented in the media: a girl afflicted with vitiligo, an albino boy and — perhaps the most controversial — a young gay couple making out.
The response has been generally positive, with people applauding Lil Boat’s decision to start a conversation with his album art. Billboard reached out to LGBTQ musicians to see what they thought.
Gia: I think it’s a bold message coming from someone who is a familiar face in the rap community. I admire how Lil Yachty is so connected with his fans and becoming a voice for our generation. Yachty putting this on the cover is an example of acceptance of our differences and a much needed statement for the hip-hop community and the world to see. Any statement homogenizing the LGBTQ community in pop culture is amazing. We as a society need to continue spreading awareness. Those who have listeners or fans should try their best to use their platform.
Cakes Da Killa: This is complicated. Obviously the cover is a marketing tool where every detail was thought out specifically to ensure a conversation, but what type of conversation is Yachty really trying to start? My initial thought: If the two boys kissing were black, honestly, that would be more impactful. I’m just like, yeah, bold move, but also this a little bit of a cop out. I’m just a little confused.
Mykki Blanco: I love Yachty. Sometimes, when rappers do certain things or when the hip-hop community gives a nod to LGBTQ issues, I roll my eyes a bit because I’m thinking, “Oh, so because this straight rapper acknowledges gay people or queer people or trans people, you all are willing to show some kind of faux sense of acceptance.” It’s like, do you have any gay friends? Would you actually be supportive of queer people in your normal life? Would you even be receptive to some of the queer musicians like Big Freedia? That kind of makes me roll my eyes. In the case of Yachty, he’s young — and he’s young in that way where when you see an artist like him do stuff, you just can read the purity in it. You can read that the intention is really genuine and that he’s not pandering to anybody. I think it’s groundbreaking because for someone of this age who has the audience that he has — for him to even use a small amount of his platform to do something like create his first album cover — and it has two men kissing. You know what I mean? I know some people in radical circles would say, “Oh, he couldn’t have chosen two men of color or he couldn’t have chosen this or he chosen that?” But it is what it is, and I do think it’s groundbreaking. I think that Yachty’s awesome.
Adore Delano: I find the cover badass! It’s a huge step for hip-hop to not only show support, but to have it on this album cover. I always think of the kids and what they’re going to see. This is an awesome image for pop culture right now.
Dai Burger: I think this is a great cover. Not only is there a gay kiss, but he’s included people from different walks of life as well. I feel it could open a lot of his fans’ minds to realizing that we don’t all have to be the same to be considered ‘normal.’ We are all different — and that’s okay. I feel this embraces that, and to be honest, I’m here for it!
Taylor Bennett: This choice to feature a gay kiss on his latest album cover was a bold, powerful, and respectable move from the bottom of Yachty’s heart. I believe it was a statement that most people — not just rappers or musicians — are afraid to make. Big ups from my team. Thanks Lil Boat!
Tish Hyman: Lil Yachty’s album cover is awesome. I think it says exactly how he is feeling. He doesn’t care and that’s cool!
MUNA: The variety of beauty in this photo is staggering and heart-melting. It’s not just the fact that he decided to include a gay couple kissing — it’s the inclusion of so many different types of people that American media has previously deemed too ‘other’ for a cover. An overweight girl, a body-modified punk, a black albino person, a girl with vitiligo — and Yachty right in the middle of it all with a rainbow smile. We are so on board the Lil Boat.