Seven months ago, Lil Yachty wasn’t Lil Yachty. At least, he wasn't the Lil Yachty of today, who might better be dubbed Sir Every Song Goes SoundCloud Platinum. Last fall, he was still just another Atlanta rapper making wistful free rap music with echoes of Lil B and Makonnen. Then a comedy video featuring his song "One Night" went viral, and Yachty landed coveted placements on OVO Radio and in Kanye West's Yeezy Season 3 fashion show. Suddenly he was swarmed with IRL retweets and likes, a swift stream of attention and applause for his March mixtape Lil Boat, and enough actual real-world fame to shut down a pop-up shop for overcrowding. Many rappers see their lives go from zero to 100 based on a single hit (Desiigner, anyone?), but few are as deft at capturing the imaginations of young fans as Yachty. He calls himself "King of Teens," and he's earned it.
Lil Yachty runs with that title on the immediate standout track from his latest mixtape, Summer Songs 2. He released the tape alongside a short documentary shot by artist Petra Collins, whose other acclaimed work includes a recent short film for the Tate Modern. Collins' documentary gives a lighthearted retelling of Yachty’s sudden come-up, with a visual haze that places it firmly within the dreamlike aesthetic favored by Yachty and his crew, the Sailing Team — a sonic world where overly cheerful production contrasts with the music's roots in Atlanta trap.
He plays gleefully with that clash on Summer Songs 2, occasionally jumping to a harder trap style with jarring results on "Like Wassup." (His early Playboi Carti collab "Run It" finds a better middle ground.) But "King of Teens" is pure day-glo wonder. Not even 150 seconds long, the self-inflating auto-tuned track is so energetic, one can’t help but nod and grin when Yachty raps: "Parents mad at my ass / 'Cause they kids sing my song in class." Eventually Yachty and his fans will grow out of their teenage youth, but right now, in the summer of 2016, there is no happier rapper or fanbase. ⛵️🌊⛵️🌊⛵️