By now you're probably familiar with Lil Tay, the nine-year-old rapper and Instagram personality striking nerves globally thanks to her potty mouth and an unabashed wealth obsession.
The self-proclaimed “youngest flexer of the century” is not one for humility. Her persona is built on (literally) throwing money around, picking fights with “Cash Me Outside” rapper Bhad Bhabie, appropriating street talk, and shunning the unfortunate “broke ass haters” in “hand-me-down clothes.”
Her sudden rise to fame has led to questions, however. Especially around the topic of money. Where did Lil Tay get all this supposed hard-earned cash? Why aren’t her parents intervening? Crucially, how does a “broke as hell” six-year-old from Atlanta decide to make it big in LA, and end up with millions of Instagram followers just three years later?
Lil Tay has ignored the skepticism, and her enigma—a reasonable choice given her age—has proven both a blessing and a curse, fuelling intrigue and heavy criticism alike. Until now, she has also never sat down for a news media interview. Alongside her consultant Alex Loyalty from Inzei Records, VICE spoke with the (alleged) nine-year-old via Skype.
VICE: For the rare people who don’t know you yet, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Lil Tay: I’m Lil Tay, the youngest flexer of the century. You know, I got 10 cars, I’m only nine-years-old, I got 10 cars, I got five houses. But I wasn’t always this rich. When I was six years old, and my age before that, I was broke. But when I was six years old I decided I wanted to start working hard and I got to where I am now.
Is “Lil Tay” your online character only; do you behave differently in real life?
Well, I mean, this is just who I am—online and in real life. I was born the youngest flexer.
What’s a “flexer,” for someone who doesn’t know what that means?
Well, it’s kinda hard to explain. Like, you know, I’m a flexer, so it’s kinda self-explanatory... cause, like, I’m flexin’.
Was making LilTay an Instagram account your idea? What made you decide to start posting videos and photos online?
I wanted to help inspire people to accomplish their dreams. I wanna show them [what] it’s like to be rich and have this lifestyle. I wanted to motivate people.
Speaking of accomplishing your dreams, what are your goals?
Well, I’m only nine-years-old, but I’ve pretty much already accomplished my dreams. When I grow up I just want to keep on doing motivational speaking. You know, I still want to help inspire people to accomplish their dreams.
What’s it like being famous at nine years old? Do you wish you’d got famous when you were younger or older?
I mean, it really does not matter when you get famous. It just matters that you can handle it. Like, I’m only nine years old, but I can handle it perfectly well. I think it’s cool. I can handle it, like, well. So I don’t have a problem with it.
Is it scary or weird to have over a million people follow you on Instagram?
When I started, I always knew I was going to be successful. I always knew that I was gonna hit a certain amount of followers. But even when I think about it... like, almost two million people lined up in front of you is crazy. But I always knew I was gonna hit a milestone.
You’ve been getting some hate from followers and the media. Do you think it’s fair for people to be mean to you?
The only reason they’re hating on me is because they’re broke and jealous of me, ‘cause I’m the youngest flexer of the century and I’m richer than them. But even if I did care what they said, I can’t change what they say. But I don’t really care anyways ‘cause I know the truth—I know that I’m rich. They say that I’m broke, but I’m rich, so I don’t care what they say.
The designer bags, cars, wads of cash, and fancy houses we see on your Instagram, why does that stuff mean so much to you?
Well, I mean flexing is, like, flexing right? But like, I’m just showing people my lifestyle. I want to tell them “This is how I’m living”. So if y’all want to live like me, you’ve gotta work hard and [then] you can accomplish your dreams just like me.
A lot of people have an issue with your swearing and behaviour because of your age. Are they wrong to criticise you when they don’t know you?
Usually when kids swear they don’t know what they’re saying. But I’m Lil Tay, I know what I’m saying. But to me, swearing isn’t a negative thing. It helps me get pumped up, it helps me get motivated to do things.
What are the most common misconceptions people have about you?
Some people say that I rent my cars, I wear fake Gucci, I borrow stuff, like I don’t own those houses. But I worked hard, I’m rich, I know that I’m rich. I know I worked hard for that money and with that money I bought all those things. Everything I flex is mine. It wouldn’t make sense to flex something that’s not yours. I wouldn’t do that.
How did you work hard? What were the steps you took to get here?
Well first… I obviously... my main focus right now is motivational speaking. But I also sell exotic cars.
You’ve been working closely with Inzei Records (Lil Pump’s former recording label). You’ve got a rap song, and we know you’ve done some work with Chief Keef. Do you want to become a big music star?
Yeah, me and Chief Keef are cool. For the rapping part of the question, I do have plans for rapping. I’m working on it right now, but for now I can't say too much ‘cause it’s kinda confidential. But you can expect me to release some music in the next few months.
I can’t help but notice that the swearing, flexing, and rap career at a young age are all reminiscent of Bhad Bhabie ’s rise to fame. Do you think you’re similar in any ways?
Well me and Bhab Bhabie are really different. Like, honestly, a lot of people ask me “Are you ever gonna collab with Bhad Bhabie?” Why would I ever collab with someone who’s just trying to suck my clout? She’s a clout chaser.
I don’t want to collab with someone who’s washed up. Like, numbers don’t lie. She has 12-million followers, I have one-million followers, but I still get more likes, views, and comments than her. Numbers don’t lie. Like, she’s washed up. We’re very different. Like, I don’t even see anything that’s the same.
Are you still going to school?
Well, I’m a Harvard dropout but I still study everyday. I wanna learn new things everyday, like I wanna get smarter. So I still learn things everyday.
Do you have anything to say to your fans out there?
Well to me, I don’t look at my fans like “fans”. I look at them as people I can motivate and I just want to, like, let them know that y’all can work hard, accomplish your dreams, and get rich if you work hard enough.
Can you give our readers some final words of wisdom?
I’m an investor in Bitcoin. Y’all should go invest in Bitcoin, ‘cause it could break $20K.
This conversation has been edited/condensed for brevity and clarity.
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