Lil Yachty and his red braids rapidly emerged onto the scene this year, first with his appearance in Kanye West’s Yeezy Season 3 show, and later with the launch of his debut mix-tape Lil Boat. He’s just another rapper from Atlanta, so why did he get so much attention and so quickly?
His music is good, no question. Maybe it’s not exactly traditionalist rap, but it’s not the bland or generic auto-tune stuff that gets spit out on the daily by Atlanta’s circle. Lil Yachty’s mix-tapes, especially Lil Boat, offer up some reminisce of childhood–their odd dreamlike fantasies paired with a naive voice, and some not-so-innocent stories. It’s a softer kind of Atlanta rap, something he calls “bubblegum trap.” Maybe this effect is from his age, or maybe it’s just the style he’s going to stick to.
But honestly, I think it’s more than just Lil Yachty’s music that garnered his success. He embodies a popular current in teen culture. He stands as a model for all those teens out there trying to leave their own unique mark, and moreover, he’s relatable. He’s 18, wears the things other teens wear (the same vintage Nautica, American Apparel, and cargo shorts), acts the same, and for one thing, he was still working at a McDonalds last year. And that’s exactly what sets him apart, he’s famous and all, but he’s not out there in the stratosphere with the other rappers, making him different than someone even like Gucci Mane. He’s said himself, “They fuck with me because they can relate to me. Because I’m the same age.” And that’s the simple truth. Yet, it’s also worth acknowledging that he wouldn’t be anywhere without us–without the entire movement of teens looking up to him and supporting him on social media. I’m not sure where’d he be without the massive backing coming from us. Lil Yachty shows us the power we have in shaping the music world–in shaping any sphere we want to shape. So take Lil Yachty as an example, kids, and pat yourselves on the backs.