Lil Yachty is in an energized state of stillness. If that sounds paradoxical, that’s because it is. It’s the Wednesday night before the first show of his 2023 tour and he’s had an hour of sleep. But between yawns, it’s clear that Yachty is fresh off of the high of what’s bound to be a fun run.
Aside from a 39-stop global tour, Yachty has been working closely with Drake on For All the Dogs, and there’s fresh ink on a few new partnerships, including an exciting one with C4 Energy—which, it becomes very clear, he’ll be leaning on.
Nine months after the release of what is debatably his best project to date, Lil Yachty checked in with Complex in an exclusive pre-tour interview from his hotel in Washington D.C., the night before his tour starts, to share what he’s been overthinking as of late, run us through his emotions on what our team is deeming a tour that exhibits a “versatile,” evolving Yachty, and opine on Drake’s upcoming album, which he’s heavily involved in.
How are you feeling? What type of energy are you on today?
I was packing all night, I didn't go to sleep…. I’m an overthinker when it comes to getting dressed, so I packed until, like, seven, and then I got up and got ready at 7:50, so, like, I didn't really sleep last night…but I had so much energy this morning for some reason.
It’s going to be a long run of tour and it sounds like you're probably gonna need a lot of energy so I can think of a few reasons why you hopped into this one, but what makes the partnership, especially a multiyear partnership, with C4 a good pairing for you?
I think just finding a home again, you know, I hate to advertise being that guy that never sleeps. But I think I found a home for something to fuel my days and nights because I am the guy who never sleeps. I mean literally never. So it made the most sense. To find a family—almost like a joint family for the boosting of my energy. And with the collaboration, the look and the style of the brand was very much on brand for me, you know, with the swag…it just didn't feel simple or some, like, muscle man drink, you know? It was very much cool and I only like to do things that feel like me. I'm so sketchy when I feel like something is not me.
Kids are really into energy drinks these days. I'm not one of them. I'm a tea and coffee girl but I feel like when I say kids, I'm including the 20-somethings like us…
That’s because this world is run on streamers, gamers, and content creators [who are] putting in those heavy-duty hours creating that content.
Yeah. I have friends outside of those spaces though who are, like, hooked on Celsius, Red Bull, C4, and all these other energy drinks. What’s up with that?
I would never speak for anyone, but I do think that the younger generation now more than ever are putting in hours and working long hours more than ever before, whether working early morning or working late nights. And on top of that, you're young. So it's not like you're only working, you're also probably maintaining a life or trying to, you know…balancing so many things which then comes the point of, “Man. It's only so much time in a day. Gotta keep that clock going.”
Yeah. Well, now that you’re on tour, what have you been listening to these days to keep you going?
I've been listening to For All the Dogs man. That's, that's all I've been bumping. My head been in there. For real though, that's all I really been listening to.
Friendship aside, what is it about it that you love that has you keep coming back to it?
It's just fresh and fun if you ask me. But I mean, that's not the only thing I listen to. I also listen to a lot of John Carroll Kirby, I gotta say that because I do listen to a lot of John Caroll Kirby right now because he is just such a fucking sick jazz musician and his spin on jazz is so cool. But besides [that], … For All The Dogs is just cool. And last time I checked (and, I check every fucking day) what is out right now? Like, musically, what is even…what's happening right now? Nothing. You know what I'm saying? So, being a part of something that's being created that is so fresh, it's so here, it's so ready, you know what I'm saying? Like it's, it's ready and I think that's the part.
Drake's been on this tour run and you've been around for some of it, you know, what have you learned from him from touring?
Not much. Me and him are kind of different when it comes to lifestyle. Like we're really similar as people, but as far as life, we're very different. Like, I don't go out, he loves to go out, he loves to host people, he loves to party and I don’t like people that much. And I record every day all day,where he kind of is very selective on his recording days as he has more of a life than I do. And, he is much more into actually living life as to where I am literally trying to record music every day. And I don't know if I get that from him of like, “Oh, I should go live a life too,” because I enjoy not living life, I enjoy making music. This is my fun. I hate going out. So, if anything, I just realized that you can be so similar to somebody yet so different at the same time.
"Drake is much more into actually living life as to where I am literally trying to record music every day. And I don't know if I get that from him of like, 'Oh, I should go live a life too,' because I enjoy not living life, I enjoy making music."
And he's obviously learned a lot from you too. You've helped with his choices, like with the cover artwork of Her Loss. You've given insight and produced on the upcoming project. Do you feel like a creative director of sorts for Drake at times? What's that like?
I mean, I think I care, you know? As a friend, I just care a lot as a friend, I care about all my friends, you know? It just so happens that one of my friends is one of the biggest artists in the world. But I'm a very supportive, open friend. I'm not a guy to show love in private. I publicly show love, and I think it sometimes makes a lot of people…people have things to say, but, it never bothered me. I'm a public love shower, and that's beautiful.
You said the word so I have to ask now, because I ask it of most artists I speak to. How do you define love?
I think it is an idea of happiness and a version of super strength; strong energy that’s connected spiritually. It’s when you feel embedded in someone and you want them to be great. It changes depending on the form of love. I mean, we [can] just sit down and have a love class/conversation if you want. But I think it just depends on the relationship and the intent.
WELL, I do want to have a love class or larger conversation, so we'll have to do that another time. But, getting back to the music—I'm excited to hear that you're working on new stuff. I love Let’s Start Here. You’ve been called many things. What are some labels that you want to do away with and others you want to maybe impose on yourself now? What would you call this next era?
I'm just an artist, you know? I'm not a mumble rapper. I'm not a one-hit wonder. I'm not a…I don't know, I'm just an artist. I love to rap. I love to sing. I love to write. I love to produce. I'm just an artist, and you should never expect anything because I will always do something unexpected. Just don't expect it. I'm gonna just start doing ASMR of me making peanut butter jelly sandwiches. Don't expect anything because imma always do the opposite. You know, I hate to disappoint, but I'm here to disappoint if you start expecting shit.
You did say you're making music every day. So, how do you describe what you're making now? How do you feel about it?
It's rap shit. Making Let’s Start Here took time. Every day. But I think about it every day and I'm so excited to start the next album. But I'm just having fun making raps though, and tons of shit that I'm into putting out. I'm so excited as to what I have next and I got some things, I got some things in the pipeline, and it's coming real soon. I'm excited.
It's funny, you recently said you want to be mentioned in certain conversations, including “stupid shit,” like the Complex list of best albums of the year, which [laughs], I'll say I don't think is stupid shit, but, can you elaborate on that?
I say stupid shit because I think that you should never grade your work based on someone else's opinion. That's why I call it stupid. You know? But, I still do it. I shouldn't say my albums aren’t good because I didn't get a Grammy or because Complex didn't nominate, or I didn't make the Top 10 Apple chart; I shouldn't do that because there are gonna be millions of people in the world who still think it's great. It's something that could possibly diminish all of my hard work and my brain if I allow it to. First-week numbers and that kind of stuff.
Well, we liked it. So, continue to keep an eye on that list.
I appreciate it. I'm so grateful when people…and I hate saying this because I always feel like “I don't give a fuck if you don't like it or not [laughs].” But I always am so grateful and appreciative when people are into anything that I make. I think now a little less than it used to, but for the longest [time], it would just shock me that people even liked my music. I was like, “For real?” I still don't even really believe people listen to me.
"I always am so grateful and appreciative when people are into anything that I make.
I feel like it just shines through when it's something that you like and it's something that you had fun making, that shines through and that makes people appreciate it all the more. So, yeah—I know you’re not coming to LA but I'll have to catch you somewhere else. It's such a great show. I'm so excited. I've never done a show like this ever. It feels cool.
Tell me a little bit about it.
I have no clue how people are gonna react. I'm so nervous because it is a different show, and I haven't toured in five years, and I toured three times before in 2017, and when I would tour those three tours, I'd see super fans. I’d see the same people a lot of times. They loved me.
And if I know anything, I imagine these people are gonna come again. It's a different show, and I've grown so much and so much has changed in my life. And to be honest, like I said, I haven't done a Lil Yachty show in five years, I've done shows, I've done festivals. I've done college shows and these are my shows, but there are also other people on the bill, so people come and see me but they come and see this person or maybe they were just at school and it was an event for the night or whatever. I went on, like, a yearly run of just college shows and festivals. So these are my first shows where people are paying hard tickets to go see Lil Yachty. And I just am feeling all the emotions.
What are you nervous about?
I just haven't really played this album many times. I get to really see my fans react to it, and it's a different show than I'm used to, it's not the average, moshpit, jump around show. So, we just have to see how people react.
What are you most excited about?
I'm such an analytical person. I just like to watch and see how people react.
Is there anything else you wanna say about it?
Come with an open mind.