Why Lil Yachty's Album Cover Is Causing a Debate

April 24th 2017

Kyle Fitzpatrick

Last week, rapper Lil Yachty debuted the artwork for his upcoming album “Teenage Emotions”—and people are sharing strong reactions over the cover photograph.

Lil Yachty's LGBT Friendly Artwork For Teenage Emotions

It features two men kissing, a person with vitiligo, an albino person, and persons of differing ethnicities and sizes. Obviously, this is the "future liberals want".

As “XXL” reported, Yachty shared his thoughts behind the artwork on Instagram Live. “In high school as a teenager growing up, you’re surrounded by so many different types of people,” he said. “Don’t be afraid to do you, to be you. If you have vitiligo or if you’re gay or whatever it is, embrace yourself. Love yourself. Be happy, positive.”

People are very supportive of the artwork.

Fans and critics alike have praised the “Teenage Emotions” cover art because of its inclusivity.


Lil Yachty's artwork has also sparked some predictably homophobic comments

An anti-gay backlash also greeted the album cover, as some fans and commenters shared their anger over the use of queer imagery. 

The backlash highlighted a relevant issue. Despite evolutionary steps in recent years, homophobia in rap music has long been an issue and recent controversies show that the matter is far from settled. 

In a broader sense, it also raised the specter of homophobia in communities of color and illustrated how social stigma continues to make coming out a difficult decision. As Advocates for Youth reported, this stigma has resulted in making LGBT persons of color less likely to come out and "be involved in gay social and cultural activities than their white counterparts," and more likely to face health risks. 

 Other fans and critics saw the cover as a missed opportunity. 

For some, the use of a white, male couple on the cover invoked the issue of queer respectability politics, the notion that LGBT persons can be out if they "behave" or look a respectable way. According to a GLAAD study, representations of LGBT persons in film —when they even appear on screen— typically skew toward gay white men. Moreover, as ATTN: reported last year, even LGBT media, created by and for LGBT people, tends to skew painfully Caucasian as well. 


Regardless, people are living for Lil Yachty’s album art—and are actively blocking out the homophobic haters.

While the debate over representation is relevant and the backlash serves as an important reminder of the progress still to be made, the discussion of Lil Yachty's artwork has illuminated the fact that an industry that has previously struggled with a homophobia problem continues to make progressive strides.