The 19-year-old is wiser than you may think.
Due to his eccentricities and his assumed disregard for honoring hip-hop history, Lil Yachty has been fielding sideways looks from all sorts of naysayers since he first began garnering recognition for his breakout single, 2015's "One Night."
The 19-year-old has since skyrocketed to a level of fame and influence that has him starring in commercials for Target and Sprite alike, being the face of collections for brands such as Nautica and Urban Outfitters and landing his first Grammy nomination for his celebrated collaboration with D.R.A.M. However, despite his best efforts during his imminent rise to success, the cheerful rapper has not been met with universal praise, namely for unapologetically leading a new wave many are referring to as mumble rap, a phrase that is also hindered by its subsequently negative connotation.
Back in August 2016, the criticism boiled over enough regarding Lil Yachty's lack of interest in becoming a student of hip-hop culture that the rapper himself came forward to comment on the situation at hand. In a series of tweets, he expressed his opinion that he feels, "it's funny how people feel like you HAVE to like something just cause everybody else does," following up that thought with, "Or like I HAVE to know something." From there, Lil Boat tweeted a sentiment that continues to follow him like a shadow, writing, "In where in the handbook of hip hop does it say u must know this list of songs to make music. Lmao"
Lil Boat's lack of public knowledge of the history of a culture he is making to, specifically his being unable to name five 2pac or Biggie songs, resulted in the Internet essentially catching on fire and in turn sparking a series of conversations that, like generations before it, put the old school against the new school. While the comment floodgates have remained not only open but extremely heated, ever since Lil Yachty made his controversial stances known-- he later retracted his comments and issued an apology-- he ironically hasn't been able to escape one of generational hip-hop's oldest debates.
In fact, his recent appearance on Complex'sEveryday Struggle with DJ Akademiks and Joe Budden was the metaphorical peak of how Yachty is perceived by those hailing the pillars of hip-hop in the highest regard, in comparison to Yachty and some of his peers who don't make it a priority to honor the work of those who came before them. As Budden and Akademiks grilled the young recording artist regarding the details of his record deal and his perspectives on life alike, something interesting and arguably unpredictable happened. Not only did Lil Yachty firmly hold his ground and directly address his "haters" in a formal sit-down conversation, he walked out of that interview being issued a newfound respect from the stern and passionate Budden. In that moment, Lil Yachty not only may have won over some new fans, but one fact emerged and became indisputable.
While Lil Yachty may be someone who has a lot to learn about the music industry, the history of hip-hop and why honoring it is important and about life itself, the teenage rapper is someone who can teach us.