You’re super fucked up.
You’re not sure how much you’ve had, or of what. All you know is it was enough to help you ether everyone in this club with your dance moves.
Your body is one with the music; this children’s song you’ve never heard before. You think, “Maybe this is weird. I’m well into my 20’s.” But then you look around, and everyone else is feeling it too.
As you all clap and sway in unison, singing along to its oh-so-happy chorus, it’s as if you’re in an episode of Barney being broadcast from another dimension. The universe where everyone is on MDMA, and Barney says, “Okay, kids! Now I’m going to teach you how to fuck up this dance floor.”
This alternate dimension is Earth, 2017. A world where a 19-year old with a terrible voice, stupid hair, and even stupider sunglasses is consistently making music you can’t help but love. His name is Lil Yachty and he’s created his own genre. It’s called “Child-Hood”. It’s called “Wee(d) Sing”. It’s called “Kid’s Music for People with DUIs”.
If you’re unsure of how this works, just know that every Lil Yachty chorus is about doing drugs, having sex, shooting people, or some combination of all three. It is also set to the tune of The Wheels on the Bus (Go Round-and-Round). He mentions Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer as a way to tell you he is going to shoot you in the face with a gun that has a laser scope. He samples Rugrats as another way to tell you that he is going to shoot you in the face with a gun that has a laser scope. He literally has a song called Peek A Boo; a song that can only be explained by quoting my favorite part; the chorus where he says “peek-a-boo” until the words lose all meaning:
“Peek-a-boo, peek-a-boo, peek-a-boo, peek-a-boo
Peek-a-boo, peek-a-boo, peek-a-boo, peek-a-boo,
Peek-a-boo, peek-a-boo, bitch.”
Ah, yes. “Peek-a-boo, bitch.” Who among us does not remember this beloved mantra from our favorite childhood game? I know I do. And if you forgot—don’t worry—Lil Yachty repeats it with the intensity of a kindergarten teacher helping his students learn words for the first time.
Rest assured, you will never forget “peek-a-boo” again.
All of his songs are like this. Lullabies that take you back to a simpler, more innocent time. It’s a time I think of often. Those nights, when my mother would come into my room, tuck me in, and then sing the hook to Minnesota ft. Quavo and Skippa da Flippa as I drifted off to sleep.
I can still remember it like it was yesterday. Her, crooning that oh-so-memorable refrain as my eyelids grew heavy.
“You need to stay up out them streets if you can’t take the heat,
You need to stay up out them streets if you can’t take the heat,
‘Cause it get cold like Minnesota,
Cold like Minnesota,”
Sometimes, my father would poke his head inside the door and do the Quavo part.
“Wrist like Minnesota – trapping Coca-Cola…
I love my Motorola, I love my Motorola,
I love my Motorola, I love my Motorola,”
He was a beeper salesman.
While none of this is actually true, it seems like it could be. Just like it seems true to say that Lil Yachty (a.k.a. Lil Boat) went directly from singing with Dora the Explorer to banging with Chief Keef. A road that, as divergent as it may sound, was straighter than we thought. And one Lil Yachty used to become what Katy Perry used to be. A pop-star for pre-teens. The living embodiment of what a child imagines a cool person to be like.
You can say whatever you want about what that is, but it’s how these artists couch their words that’s important. Their ability to be childish and adult simultaneously by putting risqué lyrics inside a colorful aesthetic that looks more bubble gum than bubble butt. A simple, effective approach to music that Yachty was smart enough to appropriate from Perry and morph into his own, more fun, more modern iteration.
Lil Yachty knows exactly what he’s doing. The fact that he and KYLE named their new song iSpy is no accident. There is no other logical explanation for two people making a music video where they play in a sandbox while rapping about ass.
So go ahead, scoff and dismiss all you want; laugh until you’re as blue as the ice in the Minnesota video. But before you do that, watch another. Kick back and enjoy adding to iSpy‘s 60-million-plus gazes into hip-hop pre-pubescence.
I challenge you to dislike that. I challenge you.
And for those of you who did, this is surely the part where you ask me to lament about the infantilization of America. To bemoan the way we’re turning into impatient children who are incapable of holding a complicated thought in our heads for more than five seconds because we’re too busy playing with our shiny toys.
Only—twist—I’m not going to do that.
Do I sometimes worry about our constant desire to escape to places where everything is black-and-white, good versus evil?
But, I also get this. And I get why it’s happening now.
Never have we been more inundated with real life than we are today. We’re constantly bombarded with tweets and notifications and alerts and posts about how shitty and terrible our world is. And even if that’s not always the case—it still feels like it is. I can see why the doom-and-gloom of it all might make people want to crawl into the fetal position and start sucking their thumb. Why sometimes they just want to be saved. Why sometimes they just want to feel like a kid again.
It’s why, when it comes to “Child-Hood”, I refuse to get all Gran Torino about it. Instead, I feel compelled to go in the complete opposite direction.
I love Lil Yachty. And you should too.
When the adults are out on a Friday night, he’s the world’s best babysitter.
He just happens to be babysitting the adults.