Lil Yachty

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Rapper Lil Yachty brings feel-good positivity, druggy weirdness, and wild ATLian flair to a style he self-designated “bubblegum trap” in his early days, while becoming a figurehead of the movement sometimes known as “mumble rap.” Within two years of scoring his first platinum single in 2016, he had a pair of Top Ten albums with 2017′s Teenage Emotions and 2018′s Lil Boat 2, and a Grammy nomination for DRAM’s “Broccoli,” on which he was featured. Between the release dates of those proper albums for the Quality Control label, Yachty’s approach shifted from a reliance upon willfully off-key singing and lackadaisical rhyming to that of a comparatively traditional MC, albeit with his irreverent sense of humor still gamely displayed. His style continued to evolve with his following recordings, including 2020′s Lil Boat 3 and the psychedelic rock 2023′s Let’s Start Here. Born Miles McCollum in the metropolitan Atlanta city of Mableton, Yachty began to break in 2015, when Drake’s OVO Sound Radio aired his bizarre and singsongy “Minnesota.” He truly crossed over in 2016. During the year, he released Lil Boat and Summer Songs 2, his first two commercial mixtapes for the emergent Quality Control Music. The former featured “Minnesota” along with “One Night,” a woozy party cut that reached number 30 on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop chart, cracked the Hot 100, and went platinum. Also during the year, he was featured on DRAM’s “Broccoli” and Kyle’s “iSpy,” both of which went Top Ten pop, and was part of Chance the Rapper’s Top Ten release Coloring Book. “Broccoli” was nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best Rap/Sung Collaboration. Coloring Book took the award for Best Rap Album. Yachty continually added to his secondary discography as a collaborator, most visibly beside Carly Rae Jepsen on a remake of Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock’s “It Takes Two,” but during 2017 and 2018, he directed most of his energy toward his first two proper albums. Teenage Emotions, issued in May 2017, peaked in the Top Ten of the Billboard 200 and Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums charts, highlighted with the charting single “Peek a Boo,” featuring Migos. Yachty returned the following March with Lil Boat 2, on which he sounded more like a traditional rapper with greater emphasis on enunciated verses and a reduction in off-key vocalizations. With tracks featuring PnB Rock, YoungBoy Never Broke Again, and Trippie Redd among its highlights, the album went Top Ten on multiple Billboard charts. That year, Yachty also released Nuthin' 2 Prove, which included “Who Want the Smoke?” with Cardi B and Offset. The set peaked just outside the Top Ten of the Billboard 200 and reached number nine on the R&B/hip-hop chart. Lil Yachty issued a handful of stray tracks in 2019. Early the next year, he teamed up with Lil Keed and Zaytoven for the A-Team mixtape, and soon hit the Hot 100 as a lead artist for the third time with “Oprah’s Bank Account,” featuring Drake and DaBaby. That May, following the release of “Split/Whole Time,” Yachty issued Lil Boat 3, which contained the two preceding singles and entered the Billboard 200 at number 14. A deluxe version of the LP, Lil Boat 3.5, appeared later that November. Extending his prolific run, he issued his third mixtape in May 2021. Inspired by the Michigan underground, Yachty recruited a team of Detroit and Flint rappers for Michigan Boy Boat, a U.S. Top 40 hit. Following 2022′s “Humble,” a collaboration with Diplo, he scored a minor hit with the solo track “Poland.” His fifth studio LP, Let’s Start Here, arrived in January 2023. In interviews preceding the release of the album, Yachty stated it would be more of a psychedelic record with live instrumentation than a traditional rap album. In keeping with the rock vibe, the album reached number one on Billboard’s Top Modern Rock/Alternative Albums and number nine on the Billboard 200. Yachty quickly returned to creating experimental trap songs, issuing non-album singles like “TESLA” and the J. Cole collaboration “The Secret Recipe” before 2023 was over. ~ Andy Kellman & David Jeffries