For anyone who thought Lil Yachty’s reach couldn’t go any further, think again because his ascent his really only just begun. The King of Teens adds another good look to his portfolio now that he’s been featured as the cover story for The New York Times Men’s Style section.
The profile includes the usual round of anecdotes most are familiar with: old school rappers and fans dislike him, the younger generation loves him, he’s not a rapper but an artist, etc. The last one sees Yachty taking the claim a step further by professing he’s not even an artist anymore. “And I’m more than an artist. I’m a brand,” he said. The evidence presented is his recent Sprite commercial, his collaboration with Nautica and modeling for Kanye’s Yeezy line at Madison Square Garden.
Perhaps what’s most interesting is how he claims his ascension was all mapped in advance, going as far back as his early childhood, where he learned the game by soaking it up from stars who worked with his father, Shannon McCollum. “I would let him help direct photo shoots, and I would always show him my invoices so he could see what I made,” McCollum said. “I used to photograph Miles [Yachty’s given name] every week. By 3 or 4, he was so comfortable in front of a camera.”
As he got older, Lil Boat learned how to style himself, opting for colorful gear and whatever he could afford from thrift shops using his McDonald’s paycheck to fund it all. It also helped that his mother taught him to sew at an early age, a not so typical trait of the average rap star. As his career first started to pick up, he managed to maneuver his way to where he hoped to be by siding up to the likes of Ian Connor and Luka Sabbat.
“I was simply trying to get people who had an audience to hang out with me, so that I could get that audience,” Lil Yachty said. “I was making music, but I wasn’t really pushing it yet. I knew exactly how it worked.” He corrected himself. “I know exactly how it works.”
But even Yachty has been taken by surprise in terms of how quickly he’s gained his new position. He reflects on the times when he sat outside the door for hours while A$AP Rocky was on the other side working with an idol like Kanye. And now, of course, he’s worked with Kanye and he even expresses surprise on how Jay Z knew who he was when the two initially met. Oh, and so did President Obama’s daughters, Sasha and Malia.
It was backstage among the V.I.P.s at Jay Z’s Made in America festival in September that Lil Yachty’s new reality started to sink in. “Obama’s daughters knew who I was,” he said. “They were huge fans. Jay Z said my name to me before I introduced myself.”
Not a bad come-up for a college dropout who decided to take a stab at a music career. The crazy thing is he’s nowhere near his potential peak.
Check out the full profile over at The New York Times.