Success can be defined as many different things to many different people. But for Lil Yachty, King of the Teens? It’s defined by getting an extra large bottle of Martinelli’s apple juice hand delivered from Whole Foods prior to his pop up performance at the AXE’s #You’reGold experience at Genius’ Gowanus event space.
“Damn, we got the big bottle?” he says in awe, as someone in his crew unpacks the paper shopping bag. “My dad used to drink this. You know we gotta take these back home, we can put them in the suitcase. We got cups? Matter of fact, I’ll drink this from the bottle.”
The ATL native is posted up on a couch surrounded by his team, some talking among themselves, one knocked out in the corner to his left. After drinking his apple juice—he eventually opted for a cup—to wash down the Buffalo Wild Wings on the table, he’s ready to answer some questions about his latest project, Lil Boat 2.
The album, which came out at the beginning of March, introduces us to a darker side of Yachty. While his debut studio album, Teenage Dreams, sampled nostalgic sounds that echoed memories of playing Super Mario Bros., Lil Boat 2 takes a slightly different turn.
“You know, I did my first studio album very uplifting and positive and melodic, but it felt like nobody wanted to hear that,” he said. “So I wanted to try something a little more raw.”
Yachty says he’s been able to learn a great deal from the heads at his label, Quality Control. QC is a tight ship manned by Atlanta hip-hop veteran Kevin “Coach K” Lee, who has helped break artists like Quavo, Rich the Kid, and OG Maco, alongside Pierre “Pee” Thomas. The label’s most recent management acquirement? Boogie Down Bronx-made Cardi B.
“I learned a lot of things working with Coach and Pee,” he said. “Especially just the importance of business in general as far as branching out, expanding, and branding—all that creative stuff. With Cardi, it’s all love. She’s part of the family.”
Despite his new darker sound, Yachty’s always looking toward the future and positivity. When asked about the new artists he wants to collaborate with, he mentions SOB x RBE, who were most recently featured on the Black Panther soundtrack and Trippie Red. Before heading out on stage, he offered a word of advice to anyone looking to gain confidence and stay fresh under pressure.
“For me it’s a look thing, if you smell good, you feel good,” he said. “I think it’s all about staying confident. If you feel confident, nothing can go wrong.”