Lil Yachty Did So Much This Year

12 months ago, you probably had no idea who Lil Yachty was. He talked with us about everything that happened since, and how it made you love or hate him.
Story by Duncan Cooper

LIL YACHTY: It was a shock to everyone when I became a rapper. Huge shock to everyone. But I knew it all along. I just didn't want to tell anybody cause then it's like, What if it doesn't work?


January is when I started working crazy. I didn’t know [Caleon Fox, who made the comedy video that propelled the success of “1 Night”]. I know him now, but I didn't know him at the time. And I started working with [my manager] Coach in January.

At this point I already knew A$AP Rocky. I met Rocky through Ian [Connor]. I met Ian three or four years ago, just in the airport. So I was chilling at Rocky’s apartment when they were doing casting for the Kanye show [at Madison Square Garden], and he was just like, “Yo you wanna be in it?”


So in February I was in the Kanye show. I was originally supposed to be standing in the very back. Then right before the show, I saw the director, “Excuse me, ma’m, don’t you think I should be in the front? Don't you think I have the great hair, and the color matches the clothes?” They switched it around and like bam, they put me in the front. That opened doors for me. A lot of fashion doors opened up after that.


The Lil Boat tape came out in March. We did the tape at our studio, QC Studio. Just locked in and didn't leave. Atlanta is so small. Everyone’s connected. Rappers come through our studio all the time. Migos and me will be there, Thug comes through every now and then. It wasn’t like I had to call nobody [to record features], they were all just here. People showed me a lot of love. They took me in, like a foreign exchange student. I was new, but they showed me a lot of love from the start.

Before “Broccoli,” Rick Rubin emailed us. You know, he got a publishing company. I don’t think I signed my publishing. I don’t know who my publishing is signed to. I really don’t. But this year I met with everybody. Every label. So I went to Rick Rubin’s house in Malibu. There’s no nothing there — there’s just work. I got to record. That’s where I met D.R.A.M., working on his own stuff. We recorded “Broccoli” in L.A It’s his song, but I’m glad to be a part of it.

This year I went on three tours in six months. I went with Young Thug, did my own tour, and then toured with Rae Sremmurd. We didn’t do much, just joked around a lot. Laughed around a lot. I had water fights on stage with lots of water. And with The Sailing Team, I want to have an amazing group. I know my friends have potential and I wanted to see them all be famous. That’s my people, that’s my group, my brand, my fans. So I started working hard towards bringing fame to them.


I don’t smoke, I don’t drink. I don’t do nothing, bro. I just don't like drugs. Just personally, I don't want to live in it. So honestly I don’t know how I let out stress. Probably on Twitter. I’ll do a lot of tweeting. I never did bad things, I just kind of say crazy things sometimes to free my mind. That’s it. It’s just interviews — I gotta watch what I say sometimes.

Atlantic Records

The first Ebro interview and freestyle [in June], they only took the part where I started joking around at the end, and they made it a video and it went viral. They only cut out the end of it. That was my first time ever freestyling on a camera, so I was kind of nervous and joking. You know, I didn’t give a shit. I saw it. It was everywhere.

But it is what it is. I really don’t pay too much attention. I don’t feed into negativity. I thankfully don’t. That’s just me. A lot of people hate what they don’t understand. You know what I’m saying? People hate what they don’t understand. After the end of my interview with Ebro [in November], I said, “You know, if you don’t understand me by the end of this, fuck you.” I’ll be fine, you know? I can’t care or stress how I’m getting people to understand me.

“I was shocked that Malia and Sasha were asking me for pictures. I didn’t ask them nothing.”

I met Obama’s daughters this year, and Beyoncé and Jay Z. I met them all on the same day, at Made in America Festival in September. I had just met Coldplay, my favorite group of all time. They just have this amazing vibe. My dad used to play them all the time, so it’s what I grew up to.

Backstage, I went to the VIP section and watched Coldplay where Malia and Sasha were. It surprised me that they knew who I was. Sasha was a fan of my music, a huge fan. I was shocked that Malia and Sasha were asking me for pictures. I was just in shock. I didn’t ask them nothing.

And then Beyoncé and Jay Z came into the VIP and they knew who I was. I love Beyoncé and Jay Z. He’s like an idol. He’s a genius. Jay was asking if I wanted some alcohol. I guess they didn’t know I didn’t drink. He had a full bottle of Ace of Spades. Like a gold bottle. It's like a thousand-dollar bottle. I was like, "No, thank you." I remember I was singing "Fix You" by Coldplay and Jay Z was surprised that I knew the song. He told me I should remake it. I was like, “I might just yet. Only if you get on the track with us.” And he said yeah. It was dope.


The Sprite commercial was October. It was just regular shooting. The coolest part about it was that the director from it was the guy who directed The Chappelle Show. Let me look up his name. Neil Brennan. He was the white guy from The Chappelle Show. He's super cool. That was amazing, because I grew up watching that show. That’s all my dad played. He had box sets. I never met Lebron on set. He came the day after. But I was told that he was the reason I was in the commercial. I was totally chosen.

This year it’s been amazing being able to show my family what I do. When I played my show in North Carolina, I had all of my grandmothers and aunties and uncles at the show. My whole family was able to see me kill a show and it was amazing.

Another thing that was amazing was to get noticed by Nautica, because I had been pushing to get their attention. I was wearing 100 percent Nautica for months. I was wearing Nautica everything. I still wear Nautica a lot. I just wear a lot of other stuff too. But the Nautica lookbook came through, and we have a lot of future business in the works.

Now I'm just working on this studio album. I'm trying to get it out. It's coming along. All these shows, I really lost my voice, so I’m trying to get my voice back so I can record at my full potential. I like to harmonize.

“I like the hate, bro.”

Looking back, I don't think I would have done anything differently. Honestly bro. Except I wouldn’t have hit Soulja Boy up. That was the weirdest shit of the year for me, but I’m thankful it was over quick. It’s never been my fault, a situation like that. Soulja Boy came at me. Oh well. It is what it is.

And maybe that Hot 97 freestyle — I would have came in prepared for that freestyle. For my second [Hot 97] freestyle, I had key points ready. I had certain things I wanted to say, and I knew how I wanted to say them. But I wouldn't even take that first one back. It made me go harder. Like, I like the hate, bro. It had people talking. I enjoyed it. Everything happens in life for a reason.

This year was amazing. This my last year being broke. Everything was like a dream. Like a dream come true. Like the last song off my first mixtape: we did it. I adapted to it overnight and it just became my life. I didn't forget my past, I just adapted. This is just the beginning, too. I'm trying to get into acting. I enjoyed it when I did the FADER documentary. It let people see a side of me. I've been a character my whole life. Actor, video director, it's just what I do. It's in me.

Lil Yachty Did So Much This Year