Miles Parks McCollum, aka Lil Yachty is no joke. He’s made quite the name for himself for someone who has even seen two decades yet. He’s 19. When I was 19, I once almost forgot to put shoes on for my eight o’clock English class. Suffice to say, I find it very impressive that this young man has become an established business man, model and music artist, something most of us can’t do in one lifetime. In fact, most of his biggest critics often like to discredit his accomplishments by reducing him a naive “kid,” but I actually believe he has the potential to maintain relevancy. He’s breathed life into what is known in hip hop as “bubblegum trap.” Bubblegum Trap is defined by The Urban Dictionary as “a style of rap where a retrotype beat is added to trap drums to produce a less hardcore version of trap music.”

In my opinion, musicians make the most money and garner success by making music they genuinely enjoy performing. As opposed to catering to the demands of other people’s fans, he created his own vibe. He is an example of a non-traditionalist hip hopper that challenges the usual style. Even though his style has been compared to that of one of his idols, Andre 3000, his style is still something fairly innovative and unique. He doesn’t rap like “oldheads” because, again, he’s 19. He’s not going to sound like Nas in his prime because he wasn’t even born yet.  He barely sounds like his peers at the time of his rise to fame. He addresses this in “Hasselhoff” in which he raps:

Lyrical ass, n-gga got me snorin’

Tryna make all this sense, that sh-t boring”

In the XXL Freshman 2016 Interview, he described his music as “positivity music.” This reflects his actual lifestyle, which includes abstaining from alcohol and illicit drugs as to stay focused on his brand. Veterans in the rap game, famously, Joe Budden have tried to criticize his outlook on life as pretentious and shallow. It’s as if people really have trouble believing that one can be successful and happy at the same time. This is a very narrow-minded perspective, and invalidates any further criticisms one may have of the artist. He’s worked hard to get where he’s at, and it’s really paying off. He’s even got a Grammy nomination under his belt for his feature on the breakout hit “Broccoli” by D.R.A.M.

During his guest appearance on Everyday Struggle, Lil Yachty, whose MC alter ego is Lil Boat, says of his work ethic, “I don’t believe I’m doing the best music; I’m doing the best business… My mindset is more than just music.” Evidenced by his endorsements from Target and Finish Line as well as his position at Nautica as a creative director, I hold to my earlier statement that this kid is absolutely no joke. In the same interview, he states that he’s “Nineteen with red hair, and diamond in my teeth. They don’t even let n-ggas like me in.” His determination comes from a passion to make it as big as he can, and that doesn’t necessarily mean that he has to put down his competition to do so.

One thing that I appreciate about him is that his style is like that of his peers in that he can flow on any beat and makes it easy to mesh well with other energies. This is evidenced by the 2016 XXL Freshmen Cypher that included himself, Lil Uzi Vert, 21 Savage, Denzel Curry and Kodak Black. The advantage of making music that you and friends want to hear is that you truly have a finger on what your audiences want to hear. This is not to say they follow trends and adapt to it, but instead I would go as far to say that they anticipate the trends and before you know it, they’ve set the standard. These “kids” are diverse enough to have completely different fanbases, yet their collaborations are not cheesy or forced, but instead they mesh together well.

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He’s all about inclusiveness, even being one to share his wealth with his longterm friends, and immediate family. With his earnings from the many endorsements, he bought his mom a new car and home, and his sister over 500 pairs of shoes (this I would assume to be hyperbole because who even needs 500 pairs of shoes?). He’s the kid that makes it out of the hood and instead of flexing on the people that were there from the jump, he became the epitome of putting the squad on. At such a young age, I would hope that this momentum is not indicative of his peak as an artist, but instead shows that this is just the beginning. I would hate for such a genuine, intelligent and focused individual to succumb to the typical fate of a teen sensation. I sincerely have high hopes that Lil Yachty isn’t going anywhere any time soon. He’s just getting started. His much anticipated album, Teenage Emotions, will be released globally Friday, May 26th. Stay tuned.

This was a collaborative piece with the good guy Okon. He is a news curator for us here at Geeks of Color.

DISCLAIMER: As a Minnesota native, I would like to make it clear that I do not enjoy the song “Minnesota.” So don’t ask me if Minnesota is as cold as he says it is, he’s not the expert on Minnesota weather just because he was here once when it was cold. My favorite verse of his actually appears on “From the D to the A” by up and coming trap artist, Tee Grizzley.

Okon: As for me I have to say my favorite Yachty track would easily be “Shoot Out The Roof.” I love the energy of the track, the adlibs, and Yachty’s fast-hitting lines. Of course the lyrics aren’t all that, but they never need to be. The song just puts you in a good mood and makes you want to turn up and do hoodrat things with your friends. Plus, the video is dope as well.

Check Out Teenage Emotions on May 26th, and stay lit.

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