"They don't understand me," he wrote on Instagram.
Almost exactly five months later, Yachty is still issuing excuses for his disappointing debut, but this time around, with hindsight and perspective in his back pocket, it appears he's being honest.
"A lot of people feel like I went mainstream. I guess I kinda did, but in the biggest way though. I think I went mainstream in the biggest way. I tried to keep it cool, though. I tried to make it still be cool... [but] man, I had to get this money, bro," Yachty told Adam22, the host of the No Jumper podcast. "I fuck with SoundCloud and fucked with the wave, but I had to go up and get this money. I'm at another level, bro. I had to boss up and get this money. If you have to do what you gotta do and a lot of people don't understand it or get it or want to understand it."
Thanks to two very successful projects (Lil Boat, Summer Songs 2), both of which were released on SoundCloud and racked up millions of plays, Yachty quickly established himself on the platform, rising up beyond a cult favorite with an underground movement and into a household name. Endorsements from Sprite, Nautica, and (especially) Target further solidified Yachty as a friendly mainstream fixture, alongside his transition from mixtape streams to radio-friendly collaborations with Diplo, Charli XCX, Kyle, Macklemore and songs like "Bring It Back."
While all of Yachty's projects have featured a split between his more aggressive rapping and his bubbly, Auto-Tuned crooning, his highly-anticipated debut Teenage Emotions was his most polished to date, with the starkest contrast between his two musical personas. With an even newer crop of SoundCloud stars quickly taking control of the conversation around what's buzzing, Yachty's decision to chase the money and go "mainstream" caused many of his initial fans to shift focus.
With record deals from Quality Control, Capitol and Motown, Yachty did what he thought he needed to do, musically, to further appeal to a wide-ranging mass audience, but as it turns out, his decision turned fans away and put a major halt in his buzz. As of Monday, Yachty isn't among the top 200 most-streamed artists in the world across Apple Music, Spotify and YouTube.
Say what you will about Yachty's music—and I've never been a fan of his work myself—but it's hard not to applaud his very open and candid comments surrounding his success, his failures, and his motivation. We'd all like to believe that creatives pursue work in the arts in the name of and love for their craft, but the truth is that many are strictly money motivated.
If some of the greatest, most revered athletes of all-time can admit they played not for the love of the game but in spite of it, why can't a rapper essentially say the same thing?
For his next release, Lil Boat 2, the Atlanta native says he plans to go back to his roots, making the music that put him in a position to succeed in the first place.