19 year old Atlanta-native Lil Yachty is one of the most polarising figures in hip-hop as of late. Miles Parks McCollum’s music is colourful and melodic, two traits that don’t sit naturally with all rap traditionalists, and has risen to be a topic of both criticism and critical acclaim in the blogosphere. His strong branding, quirky personality and consistently high output of music has seen him nominated for a Grammy, partner with major corporations Sprite and Target, and sold millions of records. His debut LP ‘Teenage Emotions’ comes out this Friday, and he arrives at Powerstation July 25th and Hunter Lounge July 26th – we got on the phone with him on a hot Los Angeles day to talk it over.
Sniffed by Nick Chrisp
We would have loved to have done this interview with you over a game of UNO, has Perry gotten any better?
*Laughs* Hell no, Perry is still terrible at UNO.
Teenage Emotions is just over a week away from release now, how are you handling the pressure of a debut LP? Does Yachty get nervous?
Nah I’m pretty good now, I think the pressure was more when I was making it, but I don’t get too nervous anymore, you know?
Your music seems very ‘in the moment’, and you can often feel the energy of songs like ‘Remember December’. How does your vibe and mood influence your creative process?
Oh yeah woah, that’s super long ago. You know, it’s crazy, it honestly doesn’t. My creative process is honestly just melody, you know? When I say that I mean I can make a song about being in love with a girl and be completely single, or I can write a heartbroken song and be in a relationship, based on things I’ve done. To me it’s all melody, more so than in the moment situations.
You’re coming to New Zealand to perform in July, what kind of energy are you going to drop on the country?
I don’t know man, expect lots of energy. I bring high energy, you’ll see. I don’t wanna give away too much though. I can’t wait to come to New Zealand
Some of your songs come from a very personal place, and some of your songs are just straight stompers, will we be hearing more from ‘Lil Yachty’ or your alter ego ‘Lil Boat’ on Teenage Emotions?
It’s a mixture man, it’s not more so one or the other. Really it’s about half and half for me.
What music were you listening to the most over the album writing process? How much of an influence do you take for your music from other artists?
I was listening to a lot of different stuff. A lot of Frank Ocean. I don’t know to be honest. I think the music I make takes influence from music I listen to, but it’s mine, you know? I find I do a lot of writing. Like a lot of my songs are written and a lot of my songs are freestyled. More than half are freestyled on the new record actually…
You and David Hasselhoff are homies – how did that happen? He was the hottest lifeguard on TV… How do you think he feels about “how deep you dive in the pussy”?
*haha, one of my best friends is a writer and a producer, and he was working with him. David Hasselhoff actually thinks it’s really funny…
Lil yachty song is hilarious cool…it’s now my ring tone! https://t.co/XY1z9on0Nc
— David Hasselhoff (@DavidHasselhoff) May 4, 2017
You’ve made it clear in the past that one of the most important things to you is that you’re having fun, and the last couple of years have been crazy for you, going from writing Minnesota in your dorm room to being nominated for a Grammy. What’s been the funnest moment of your rise so far?
Ahhhh…I don’t know, I don’t know, there’s too many to count. I think festivals have been the best, and just hanging out with my friends daily still.
What is the biggest challenge you face as an artist?
I don’t have many challenges bro. There’s been a few situations where people have made comments about me, but there haven’t really been any hard times for me .I don’t come up against too many challenges…
You tweeted last week that growing up you were getting dubbed by chicks in 2010-2015…when you started this rap shit how hard was it to keep going when people didn’t back you?
Not that hard. I was always just giving it a shot, you know? Just doing me. You have to put other people’s opinions to the side if you’re really trying to do this.
Shouts out every female who dubbed me in the 2010-2015
— lil boat kot 5.26.17 (@lilyachty) May 7, 2017
Hear me out on this one…We’re massive fans of what you do, and obviously you would have seen the online conversations about ‘mumble rap.’ I’m a huge fan of it, and think that well structured words that ‘float into a melody’, are genius. For you, is the melody being more memorable than the actual lyric sometimes important?
I don’t know. That’s the shit that critics talk about, and I’m not a critic. There’s no real right answer to that question cos there’s opinions on every new style of music. It really depends on what type of person you are at the end of the day.
New Zealand is home to heaps of talented Musicians, with artists like Lorde taking the world stage and many more running the underground. You even sampled kiwi duo Broods’ track ‘Killing You’ on your track ‘Not My Bro’ off the Lil Boat tape. You got your eye on any other New Zealand artists at the moment?
*haha that was one of my producers! I love Lorde, Lorde is amazing. Like amazing, and so mysterious – her voice is incredible. I love love love Lorde’s debut album.
Top three tracks you’ve got on repeat right now?
Robin S – Show Me Love
Hoodrich Pablo Juan – First I Trap Then I Dab
Future – Solo