Combining feel-good positivity, druggy weirdness, and wild ATLien flair into a style he termed "bubblegum trap," rapper Lil Yachty scored his first platinum single with "One Night" (2016).
Within two years, he had a pair of Top Five albums with Teenage Emotions (2017) and Lil Boat 2 (2018), and a Grammy nomination via DRAM's "Broccoli," on which he was featured. Between the release dates of his proper studio full-lengths 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.
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 also went platinum. Also during the year, he was featured on DRAM's "Broccoli" and Kyle's "iSpy," both of which went Top Five 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 directed most of his energy toward his first two proper albums. Teenage Emotions, issued in May 2017, peaked in the Top Five 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 Five on multiple Billboard charts. That year, Yachty also released Nuthin' 2 Prove, which included appearances by Playboi Carti, Juice WRLD, Lil Baby, Cardi B, Offset, and more. The set peaked just outside the Top Ten of the Billboard 200, yet managed to sneak through to number nine on the R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. He followed in 2019 with the singles "Kryptonite," "Go Krazy, Go Stupid," and "Live Forever." ~ Andy Kellman & David Jeffries