The students in Christopher Daniel’s music journalism class at Georgia State University didn’t initally realize what was happening on Monday.
Rapper Lil Yachty lifted up the hat atop his beaded skinny braids that covered his eyes a bit and then it became clear — the self-proclaimed “King of Teens” was in the classroom.
“Everyone was kind of stuck in their seat,” said Daniel, a visiting professor in the communications department.
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Yachty, whose real name is Miles McCollum and who went to Pebblebrook High School in Mableton, aims his music toward the younger generation. Which makes sense because he just turned 20.
He’s been wildly successful in spite of the fact he can’t name five songs from Tupac or Notorgious B.I.G., or so he told Billboard in August 2016.
In his two decades, Yachty has: released one studio album along with two mixtapes, rapped a bubblegum-melodic verse on D.R.A.M.’s “Broccoli” that was Billboard’s No. 3 best pop song of 2016, been arrested but not charged for allegedly trying to use a fake credit card at a LIDS hat store in a Florida mall, helped release a nine-piece collection by Nautica at select Urban Outfitters stores and he appeared in a Sprite commercial with Drake.
“He’s one of the top artists of his generation,” said Daniel, a music journalist by trade.
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Daniel has known Yachty’s father, Shannon McCollum, for a decade through the industry; Daniel as a music writer and McCollum as a photographer.
The older McCollum posted about the experience on Instagram: “The professor at #gsu had been hitting my inbox and whenever he saw me out he would say it would be so awesome if you and @lilyachty could speak with my students. The time finally presented itself. Miles was off tour and to be honest he needed to relax but he was open to speaking. It meant a lot to the students cuz no one knew.”
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Along with Yachty and his father, Daniel had local music journalists Branden Peters and Maurice Garland in the class. He said the room of aspiring music writers took as many pictures with the supernova rapper as they did with Peters and Garland.
Daniel said Yachty spoke with the students about a variety of topics: his travels, his relationships with stars like Kanye West and Erykah Badu, an upcoming film, a Reebok deal.
“He’s very real, he’s not trying to be too hard, he’s not over the top … he knows where he fits, he’s not afraid to be melodic or emotional on a record,” Daniel said.
A sappy, proud father took a second in his Instagram post to reflect on the experience: “I for the first time got to sit back and watch my son be a mature funny smart well spoken young man. Awesome honor for me as a Dad. I was low key beaming on the inside.”
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