Lil Yachty Is The Epitome Of The Blissful Ignorance Of New Hip Hop
In an interview with Billboard, Yachty revealed that he “honestly couldn’t name five songs” from the two rappers who are widely regarded as the best to ever do it: Tupac and The Notorious B.I.G.
Lil Yachty doesn’t see his lack of knowledge about the two late greats as an issue. After making the surprising admission, he went on to say, “But if I’m doing this my way and making all this money, why should I do it how everybody says it’s supposed to be done?”
Lil Yachty could easily blame this ignorance on his age. At just 19, Lil Boat wasn’t even born by the time ‘Pac and Biggie died in ’96 and ’97. And being a baby of the Internet age, Lil Boat grew up on the sounds of Lil B and Kid Cudi rather than anything from the golden age. When XXL spoke to Yachty for his 2016 Freshman feature interview, the red-haired rapper claimed his early inspirations to be Lil B, Kid Cudi and Soulja Boy.
Lil Yachty and What’s Wrong With Hip-Hop?
The answer to the question is both nothing and everything. The fact that it has grown to the point where legends are unknown or ignored shows that it has a life all of it’s own. That’s great. The lack of acknowledgement of where it has come from is bad. Actually, really, really bad.
Understanding hip hop history helps us understand the culture and roles of the participants today from MC to DJ, b-boy to graffiti artist. Hip hop history may help Yachty realize why he raps the way he does. Has anyone done it before? If they have, what happened to them?
Understanding hip hop history also allows for a keener understanding of identity and understanding of the genre. Is Yachty a rapper or is he an MC? Is it a distinction without a difference?
Though I am not a fan, Yachty is under no obligation to pay homage to any so-called hip hop great whether it be Big or Pac, or even those preceding them such as Big Daddy Kane or Mac Dre. However, proudly declaring one’s ignorance of history is a bad look that can have all sorts of repercussions.