How Lil Yachty Got Famed Painter Bob Ross on New Album Let’s Start Here
Lil Yachty's new album, Let's Start Here, is without a doubt his most experimental project to date. In fact, the Atlanta artist's new take on psychedelic rock finds Lil Boat landing what is likely one of the most unique guest appearances hip-hop has ever seen—a feature from famed painter Bob Ross.
On Wednesday (March 8), Billboard published a cover story in which Lil Yachty, co-founder and CEO of Quality Control Music Kevin "Coach K" Lee and VP of A&R at Motown Records Gelareh Rouzbehani were interviewed about Yachty's new album, Let's Start Here. In opening up about the ins and outs of the 14-track head trip that is Lil Yachty's latest project, the trio shed some light on how a posthumous appearance from late TV personality Bob Ross, who died in 1995 due to complications from lymphoma, came to fruition on the song "We Saw the Sun!"
In discussing the topic of how Lil Yachty's Let's Start Here contains very few features from other artists, Gelareh Rouzbehani explained the details surrounding the unlikely pairing between Boat and Bob Ross. The Motown exec said that despite Ross' estate initially refusing to clear the spoken word outro that rounds out "We Saw the Sun!" the appearance from The Joy of Painting artist has actually become part of music history thanks to the perseverance of Yachty himself.
"I think a big concern of theirs was that Yachty is known as a rapper, and Bob Ross and his brand are very clean," Rouzbehani told Billboard. "They didn't want to associate with anything explicit. But Yachty was adamant, and played the track for Ross' team and also sent the entire album's lyrics to set the group at ease. With a lot of back and forth, we got the call. Yachty is the first artist that has gotten a Bob Ross clearance in history."
Bob Ross' outro on "We Saw the Sun!" adds the perfect undertone to Lil Yachty's bright and airy Sadpony-produced track. The sample from Bob Ross' iconic art show, The Joy of Painting, provides a message of hope and positivity that compliments the emotion Yachty portrays through his lyrics.
"Just let your imagination run wild," Bob Ross can be heard saying on "We Saw the Sun!" "Let your heart be your guide. In the time you sit around worrying about it and trying to plan a painting, you could've completed a painting already. Let it happen. Let it happen. And I would spend, sometimes, weeks just working on a picture, drawing it out, getting all the little sketches and stuff. And then I'd go back and spend maybe a month trying to fill in the blocks. And here, we let it happen, it comes out here. It's in you, and you put it on the canvas, OK? Let's see."
To date, Lil Yachty's psychedelic rock album, Let's Start Here, reached a peak position of No. 9 on the Billboard 200 albums chart while "We Saw the Sun!" featuring Bob Ross has seen well over 4.7 million streams on Spotify.