When Lil Yachty signed to Atlanta’s Quality Control in 2016, co-founder Kevin “Coach K” Lee saw all these possibilities for his unusual appeal: A younger audience, as Yachty called himself “King Of Teens.” Commercials, like the ones he did for Sprite and Target, seen opposite LeBron James and Carly Rae Jepsen. Brand deals like his partnership with Nautica, as inspired by his own moniker.
Yet when Yachty tells this same story, he thinks of himself as a liability. “I honestly didn’t think that I would fit in at all,” he said, seated between Coach and Quavo of Migos, in a recent roundtable Q&A with QC. “But I just wanted to be a part because I thought it would be so cool.”
For his 2017 debut album Teenage Emotions, Yachty sat grinning among other so-called misfits. Following criticism from Pete Rock, Soulja Boy and Shia LeBeouf, Yachty even said not to call him a rapper. Yet on Lil Boat 2, released Friday, Yachty cautiously embraces that label in efforts to show how he has grown up.
“I don’t know who I am sometimes / I might rap a verse, I might sing a song,” Yachty warbled on the original Lil Boat, which is from 2016, even though it feels like yesterday. On Teenage Emotions, he was indecisive because he tried to please both hip-hop’s oldheads and fans of his kitschy prom anthems. But in Lil Boat 2, Yachty isn’t waving his freak flag, as much as he reps for his label. The production is dark, spare and bass-heavy, as if inspired by Migos’ Culture.