“Lil Yee is dope. He’s from Filmore, and has a song called ‘Hopeless’ that I have on repeat right now. I’m a little late on that record, but it’s still on that repeat. When I heard him, I thought that he was making some music that wasn’t just local-sounding. It sounds like it could be played everywhere.” – Clyde Carson in an interview with The BoomBox
“If I’m rapping about it, I lived it, saw it, or know someone who went through it,” declares San Francisco’s Lil Yee. With over a dozen videos and songs streaming in the millions, Yee’s authenticity connects with audiences. Throughout his career, the Fillmore District native confronts his pain and pressures with music. “I lean into the mic,” he admits. During 2020, Yee lost his uncle, role model, and biggest supporter, ChiAli. “He was more than an uncle to me. When my dad was in the feds, he was my father and big brother. Chi always believed in me so much,” says Yee of the man who transitioned him from the streets to rap. Now standing alone, Lil Yee looks within to recognize his strength and fulfill a promise to his uncle. Unbreakable (November 26, G-Affair/EMPIRE) turns pain into perseverance. Lil Yee delivers some of his hardest, most personal songs to date, featuring PnB Rock, Babyface Ray, Shaun Sloan, Lil Pete, and Lil Bean. Unbreakable sees a man whose life and music show that he is built to last.
Lil Yee is big on family. He was raised by his late mother, Mercita, a Puerto Rican from Brooklyn who had moved to the Bay. His father, Big Yee, played in sibling band, G-Affair, between prison stints. “I come from a legendary family,” Lil Yee shares; his brother is NFL star rookie running back Najee Harris. Despite his musical bloodline, Yee was initially more interested in the streets than rapping. After a few regionally popular collabs, it was back-to-back gun charges that made him reconsider. Facing felony time, Yee accepted a plea bargain that allowed him to help raise his twin daughters—so long as he remained out of trouble. Six years later, Lil Yee focused on talent and family, building a legitimate career. The person who guided him was his uncle, ChiAli.
Since transitioning to music, Lil Yee quickly amassed a following with his 2017 autobiographical debut, Cita Son, and hard-nosed 2019 follow-up Live 4 It, Die 4 It. After recording much of an upbeat sequel to his first album, Yee’s life was forever changed when ChiAli was murdered in Hunter’s Point. It took a toll on me. It made me really buckle down on who I am, what I’m here for, and what I need to do,” he admits. “Chi left behind three kids; I take care of them like they’re mine. “The artist halted his release plans and began a new album—one that honored his uncle’s support, his drive, and Lil Yee’s tenacity. “I decided to go way harder,” he says, pointing to his daughters, uncle’s kids, and the steadfast support of EMPIRE CEO Ghazi, who helped him decide on the album’s title. Unbreakable is bigger than music; it’s a personal mantra.
The journey to make this album began with “ChiAli,” a personal letter to his slain cousin that shows the pain, sadness, and vulnerability he left behind. He locked in with that same producer, Ramey, and made “Dead and Gone,” opener “Going Crazy,” and a potent title track. “Music is a healing process for me,” says Yee. “That’s why I never rap weak.” The 11 songs flow together in theme as well as melody. To broaden his message, Yee strategically linked with out-of-town peers, including Philly’s PnB Rock and Detroit’s Babyface Ray, while honoring his roots alongside Lil Pete on video single, “Free The Hometeam,” fast approaching 2 million views.
Unbreakable reminds all that Lil Yee cannot be stopped. “I have had a life, and I’ve been through a lot. But it ain’t break me, so I’m still prevailing through it all,” says the 28-year-old who likes to celebrate life’s joys and blessings too. San Francisco’s next star is intent on reaching new fans. “I want to be a Lil Durk, or a Lil Baby—a dude who comes from that life in that city and gives it to the world, yet tries to be better than his environment.”
Lil Yee Turns His Pain into Perseverance on Most Personal Project Yet
Lil Yee Sends a SF Farewell to the Dearly Departed in New “Dead & Gone” Video
SF’s Lil Yee Announces 11/26 Album, Unbreakable, Shares “Going Crazy” Video
Lil Yee Puts It All On The Line with Lil Pete & FMB DZ in “Sacrifice”
Lil Yee Recruits Mozzy and E-40 For His Live 4 It, Die 4 It Album, Premieres “Concrete Jungle” Vid via No Jumper
From the D to the Bay: Lil Yee Recruits FMB DZ and Lil Pete for “Sacrifice”
San Fran Street Savior Lil Yee Announces ‘Live 4 It, Die 4 It’ Album, Shares Zaytoven-Produced Single via HYPEBEAST