With Lil Yachty at the center of the current debate over whether new rappers should know their hip-hop history or not, his father Shannon McCollum sat down in a recent interview with Hip-Hop Wired to share his thoughts on the matter. An Atlanta-based professional photographer known for shooting artists like Outkast and John Legend, McCollum is well-versed in rap's roots but understands why his son might not be.
"He wasn't raised on Biggie or Tupac. Growing up we played a lot of music. By the time he got to be five or six, I really was playing Miles Davis, because I was so into Miles Davis, and that's where his name comes from. That's what he first heard."
Explaining that Yachty was born after artists like Biggie and Tupac had already passed away, McCollumn says that Yachty grew up in a house that was dominated by artists like Coldplay, Bilal, Outkast, A Tribe Called Quest, Kanye West, Steely Dan, and The Beatles. Understanding that hip-hop evolves each generation, he had a message for older fans who are upset with his son's lack of hip-hop history knowledge and don't like the music.
“You know what I would say to the older cats — because I’m an older cat,” he says. “I would say it’s not for you! He calls himself the ‘King of the Teens,’ not the ‘King of the Old Heads.’ It’s for your kids, let your kids rock with it.”
McCollumn continues, "You have to realize that he just graduated high school last year. He's a teenager. A kid. Look at our own kids. I would like to ask some of these cats to ask their own kids without going to Google, 'Can you name five Tupac songs? Can you name five A Tribe Called Quest songs?'"