The uber-talented rapper-singer-drummer Anderson .Paak recently came for Atlanta rapper Lil Yachty on Twitter following his comments on two of the most celebrated rappers in history — Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur.
While speaking to Billboard, Yachty, the 19-year-old boat fanatic, bragged about not being able to name five songs from the East and West Coast hip-hop legends. “If I'm doing this my way and making all this money," Yachty said in the interview, "why should I do it how everybody says it's supposed to be done?”
This caught the eye of Yachty’s 2016 XXL Freshman classmate .Paak. The 30-year-old California-born artist seemed to indirectly slam his peer on social media. “Don't be cocky in the fact that you don't know anything about hip hop history,” he tweeted. “Real artists are students of the game first.”
Yachty was quick to respond to .Paak’s comments, first with the thinking man emoji, then questioning the idea of a blueprint to become a successful rap artist. “I think it's funny how people feel like you HAVE to like something just cause everybody else does.”
“In where in the handbook of hip hop does it say u must know this list of songs to make music. Lmao,” he tweeted. And in another, he rhymed, “Oh yo mama hate me... Daddy wouldn't let you.... If he ever met me... If he ever met you.”
It's easy to understand Yachty's goal to style his work with a Rae Sremmurd-type enthusiasm that's carefree, fun and, as he puts it, less serious. His come-up, the viral Soundcloud mixtape Minnesota, reflects the quick success that nearly anyone can achieve when bypassing industry standards, and mirrors the journey of his idol Soulja Boy. Yachty has enjoyed his success by signing with Capitol Records, laying down bars on D.R.A.M.’s surprise chart hit “Broccoli,” and walking the runway for Kanye West with a Tumblr-appropriate Ian Connor-vibe, minus the rape allegations.
There’s nothing wrong with making surface-level rap music, and I’ll certainly enlist Yachty for my pregame playlists, but without substance, his career will predictably fall flat, as we've seen with the industry’s revolving door of bubblegum rappers whose only prerogative is to be played on weekends.
Yachty is a smart teenage prodigy who probably knows the weight of importance lyrics carry in the rap game — he doesn't need to be Nas or Kendrick, but even 2Chainz has stellar, and sometimes impressive, lyrics. And substance never hurt Chance the Rapper’s overwhelmingly fun catalogue. While Lil Yachty might think hip-hop’s forefathers and “serious” lyrics are “boring,” he’ll eventually need to take .Paak’s advice or his music will live and die in white college dorm rooms until the next bubblegum rapper shows up to the party.