Lil Yachty is coming for his respect. After not releasing any projects and remaining relatively quiet in 2019, the Sailing Team’s captain returned in May with a massive chip on his shoulder, to put a bow on his momentous Lil Boat series with the third and final chapter.
The series is something the 23-year-old holds near and dear to his heart, as it served as his introduction to rap’s mainstream and put him on the map just a year after graduating high school. With the stakes raised at a pivotal point in his career, Yachty went back to the drawing board five times wiping the slate clean until he found the desired patina for LB3 to take shape.
On the set, Boat blends melodic bubblegum trap that sounds as if there’s something lodged in his throat and the loopy rhymes of vintage Yachty, alongside a myriad of special guests to execute the project’s vision. The rapper also notches three co-production credits on the album as well.
Yachty has remained low-key inside his ATL mansion for much of the quarantine. He’s dabbled in his fair share of playing video games, recording new music, continuing his kids’ menu diet of waffles, pizza, and chicken nuggets — which he combats with some yoga and hitting the gym to balance “eating like an eight-year-old and trying to be healthy at the same time.”
Following the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis Police on Memorial Day, the ensuing protests setting the city ablaze saw Yachty’s infectious “Minnesota” hook take on a new meaning. “You need to stay up out them streets if you can’t take the heat,” he raps on the icy 2015 track.
After collecting his thoughts for a couple of days and even debating making the trip to Minneapolis himself on LB3 release day, Yachty took action by donating $3,000 to the Minnesota Freedom Fund, and joined protestors (May 30) on the frontlines walking the streets of Downtown ATL. Yachty showed maturity and leadership beyond his years when getting on the megaphone to deliver a powerful speech. “We gotta stand for something or fall for anything,” he proclaimed.
Dive into our interview with Yachty below, as he debates an artist’s responsibility to comment on social issues, always hearing the haters no matter what he does, how Drake ended up on “Oprah’s Bank Account,” and more.
Billboard: Wrapping up with Lil Boat 3, what does the series mean to you?
Lil Yachty: It’s just where I started my music career. It will always have a special place in my heart. It’s what brought me into music. It will always be a very important project — both the first and the last one. I think they play a pivotal role, with the first one being my introduction and this third one being a stamp to remind people that I really do this s–t.
Your last album was Nuthin 2 Prove, but now it’s “ComebackSZN Boat” time with your Twitter name. Do you feel like you’ve got a chip on your shoulder with this project that you’re still right here?
[A] big chip. I feel like I took a long break and it’s time to wake everybody up.
You kicked off LB3′s rollout with “Oprah’s Bank Account.” What did you think of the fans’ reception to it?
I think it was a good reception, but at the same time, a lot of people were upset — black people specifically — with the whole man in a dress thing, but it wasn’t that deep.
How did you get Drake on there? Did you guys talk about how that song ended up being the one that Drizzy broke the record with for most Hot 100 placements?
Drake actually asked me to be on there. I met Baby when he was doing a meet-n-greet and I hung out with him. [Drake] thanked me for it. I told him, “No need to thank me, sir. You did all the work.”
How did you end up linking with Tyler, Rocky, and Tierra Whack on “T.D.” and why did you sample that Tokyo Drift song?
Originally, that song was supposed to be me, Rocky, and [A$AP] Ferg. I guess Rocky played his verse for Tyler and then Tyler was like, “Oh, I’m getting on this.” Then I was like, “I know somebody that would kill everybody [on this].” So I reached out to Tierra Whack because she’s a really good friend of mine, and I really wanted her to have that look. I knew she was going to go crazy, which she did. I just love that song by the Teriyaki Boyz.
What was your role in the co-production of the three tracks you produced on the album?
I picked the sample for “Tokyo Drift.” For “Can’t Go,” I made the melody. For “Wock in Stock,” I did the 808s. It’s a difficult process.
Talk to me about “Till the Morning” with Durk and Thugger.
We’ve been sitting on that record for a very long time. I want to say it dates back to at least 2018. We just wanted to see who was going to drop it first. Yeah, we had all did it together. Durk is that n—a. He’s dumb-chill and humble.
The Boat Show has let fans into your life during quarantine. We see you eating waffles, pizza, chicken nuggets, hitting the gym, and doing some yoga.
I don’t know, I guess that’s a twist between eating like an eight-year-old and trying to be healthy at the same time.
I’ve been on the Mountain Dew Baja Blast wave. Are you a Baja Blast guy?
I f–k with the Baja Blast heavy. I like to go to Taco Bell and get it. It’s crazy, I’m a snack connoisseur.
Have you been playing a lot of Warzone as well?
I just got my first win with Tee Grizzley like two days ago. That game, I love it, but the Warzone ain’t easy. I’m a beast online — like Team Deathmatch. You got to move different on Search and Destroy.
I enjoyed your “Can You Stand The Rain” New Edition cover, but some people were hating on it.
People hate on me regardless, bro. It’s just a given. I’ll never be the most likable artist. I did that in 2017, bro. One night, it was like five in the morning, I was on IG Live with fans and I dropped it.
You still gotta keep the confidence up, though.
Oh, I’m that n—a.
How are you still keeping up with the shopping?
Bro, I shop every single day.
Are the stores coming to your place?
That and I do a lot of Grailed and eBay shopping. I had to change my username because it was too obvious at first. I’m on my ’85 collection right now. I’m trying to collect all of the 1985 Jordan’s. I got about eight right now, it’s just so expensive.
With the riots going on across the country in response to the death of George Floyd at the hands of police, do you feel artists have a responsibility to speak out?
I feel like this is a tricky conversation. Some people generally don’t want to say something that would upset people, while other people are just minding their own business. It should resonate more if you’re a black man. It’s just difficult.