Lil Yachty Shows He Can Really Rap On A Song With J. Cole

Earlier this year, Lil Yachty released one of 2023’s more surprising albums from an artist often categorized in Rap. January’s Let’s Start Here. deviated from the sound that the Atlanta, Georgia had established over the last decade. On this go-round, the Quality Control/Motown Records artist delved into contemporary Psychedelic Rock and Dance music—evident on songs like “drive ME crazy!” and “the BLACK seminole.”

Now nearing year’s end, Lil Boat demonstrates that his rapping is in focus on a song with J. Cole titled “The Secret Recipe.” Yachty has made gold-certified songs as a guest for Calvin Harris, Macklemore, and KYLE. This time, he works with an artist esteemed for his concepts and lyricism. Early in his career, during the mid-2010s, Yachty was an artist who was a target by Hip-Hop purists, including Pete Rock, Joe Budden, and CyHi The Prynce—who claimed Lil Boat was “destroying the Rap game” during a Sway In The Morning freestyle.

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J. Cole may be a fitting ally, as an artist who has schooled Rap artists before—including Yachty collaborator Lil Pump. Lil Pump, Yachty was once a troll to Cole. As Pitchfork reports, during the ATL artist’s teens, he tweeted several jabs at the Dreamville founder, including “F__KJCOLE.” Many believe Cole responded on 2016’s “Everybody Dies” with the lyrics: “Lil’ whatever, just another short-bus rapper / Fake drug dealers turn tour bus trappers.” Lil Boat even responded to the loosie. “Honestly, I don’t give a f__k. I f__k with J. Cole, bro! I don’t listen to J. Cole, but I f__k with J. Cole.” The artist also confirmed his 2011 tweets, and said he hoped the Roc Nation star did not have any hard feelings.

Nearly 12 years after that damning tweet, “The Secret Recipe” shows a change of heart—as well as a passion for rapping. He takes the first verse and sprinkles gems: “I never wanted peace, f__k all the opps, I support Malcolm X / The stack of chains is just a front / Overtaxed and underwhelming, your jeweler pulled a major stunt / I don’t smoke weed, already blunt, all of my cars, I had to hunt / My doggy young as hell but still will step, we call him ‘Baby Runt’  / Like window shoppers, I see through every front / I speak on what I need, I foresee everything I want / I block out anything I hate and still the hardest, still unpaid / The notice went unseen, the tenants too relaxed.” He then confronts his image to some: “The standards have collapsed, they wrote me in with lames / They treat me like I’m them, they hate I overcame / Refuse to pat my back, refuse to shake my hand / Refuse to give me props when I am not around / Refuse to act like I ain’t shift the sound, like I ain’t push the culture.” The 26-year-old insists he’s playing chess in a world of checkers.

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Jermaine follows in kind, and shows true armistice. “Cole and Yachty, comin’ for they respect, come and pay your debt / Just like a travel pillow, we at your neck for the way you slept / This nuance, but I see hella influence in the way you dress / The way you sound, the way you try to move, you try to stay abreast on all the latest flows and latest tones from Generation X / Y’all chasing relevance, it’s evidenced by the way you step / As for me, I cook so masterfully, ain’t gotta pay a chef / I’m older now, but still, I’m cuttin’ edge, I’m like a bayonet / From out the ‘Ville, we OSHA certified, you gotta wear your vest / Too many homicides, a lotta slidin’, they good at makin’ decks / Thanks to God, I made it out the city, most would say I’m blessed / My greatest flex is that I made a milli’, feel like I’m Bangladesh / I hate the press, refusin’ interviews whenever they request,” he touts, after efficiently covering a range of topics—including his choice to avoid most media outlets, especially in the Rap space.

Cole also condemns performative activism. “N___as fake-progressive and woke, I started sayin’ less / I had to stop it, peeped how they profit off of racial stress / Some activists got so rich, they prolly wish we stay oppressed / Studio steppers movin’ extra on songs, fakin’ rep.” He then moves the lyrics to Rap, and his long-cemented role as a show-stealing feature guest. “Only breakin’ bad in the lab, thought y’all was makin’ meth / N___as makin’ threats and I laugh, that’s ’cause you ain’t a threat / Don’t ask how I feel ’bout no rappers, s__t, they okay, I guess / Incomin’ call, press the button, the one that say accept / He FaceTime to ask for a feature and saw the face of death / I’m on your song, your streams goin’ up, not quite the Drake effect / But don’t complain, b___h, take what you get and cut the label check.” Cole ends his appearances with emphasis: “My paper stretched just like a Laker before he break a sweat / Signed, the greatest yet.”

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On Friday (October 6), Cole appeared on Drake’s “First Person Shooter,” from his just-released For All The Dogs. In addition to Yachty and Cole’s new single, the playlist also features recent songs from DJ Drama, IDK, and LaRussell. Selections from the J. Cole and Dreamville-produced Creed III Soundtrack are also included, featuring JID, Lute, Cozz, as well as REASON and Tierra Whack.

Like Cole, Yachty is a double threat. He co-produced the song with Rawbone and 98k.

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#BonusBeat: A 2022 episode of AFH‘s What’s The Headline podcast that examines J. Cole’s prowess as a guest verse sniper: