the curious case of Lil RT

the curious case of Lil RT
image by dall.e 2

[Trigger Warning: Explicit Language]

Say, have you heard of Lil RT? Unlike the familiar figures of ‘Lil Wayne’, ‘Lil Uzi Vert’, and ‘Lil Nas X’, this budding artist truly embodies the essence of his ‘lil’ moniker in both stature and age. Born in the summer of 2014, Lil RT’s tender age belies the gravity of his presence on social media, from the release of his two-minute song ‘60 Miles’ to his recent visit to a strip club. So I sit down today to discuss his lyrics in the said song, one that serves as a window into his upbringing and by extension, the state of children’s welfare in Black America and our modern world at large. 

‘60 Miles’ begins and closes with a recurring refrain of its chorus that goes:

If she ain't suckin' d***, lil' b***, you can get the f*** up out my s***
Hundred round, hit him with the Glock, take a f****r down
Hundred round, b***, we in that Kia, we gon' take him down
Twelve get behind me, we gon' do sixty f*****n' miles, yeah

Contained within this fifty-word snippet, Lil RT’s lyrics suggest aggression, violence, and explicit sexual content, prompting censorship through my use of asterisks. And as you will learn, throughout the song, Lil RT persists in his use of profanity and vivid violent imagery, coupled with a confrontational tone when referring to law enforcement (“Twelve get behind me”) and evasive action (“we gon' do sixty f*****n’ miles”). Some may argue that this is simply Lil RT’s use of the TOV of the rap genre, yet given our subject’s age and ethnicity, this song presents itself as an open wound, oozing with tales of life in Black America. Naturally, it may not come as a surprise that this young child’s hometown is Atlanta, Georgia, which has been dubbed the “hip-hop capital” of the world and “rap center” of the universe. 

See, Atlanta gave us Ludacris, T.I, Gucci Mane, Soulja Boy, Migos, Playboi Carti, 21 Savage, Future, Childish Gambino, and two more Lil(s) – “Lil Baby” and “Lil Yachty”– among many other popular hip-hop artists. On the flip side, Atlanta also comes with a $5,502 crime cost per capita, making it the 15th most unsafe city out of the 19,495 incorporated cities, towns and villages in the United States of America. It is no wonder then, that Lil RT, who is but a nine-year-old can openly glorify violence and aggression, with a sprinkle of boastful misogyny. 

For example, take the first verse in the song: 

B****, I'm in a Lamborghini, keep on talkin' 
B****, I'm in a Lamborghini, point that beam up on his head
Took his s***, he went out bad
Fifty rounds, n***a know not play with me
I'll shoot his a** right in the ground
Hand her out, step on lil’ bro grave, hit him in his face

Essentially, Lil RT boasts to a woman (read: b****) about his luxury car and daydreams of a violent encounter where he plans to use a firearm against another ‘bro’. This brings three main questions to mind: 1) What did this ‘lil bro’ do to deserve Lil RT’s wrath? 2) Why is Lil RT exposing his plans to the ‘b****’? 3) What does being in a Lamborghini have to do with any of this? 

To answer all these queries, it’s worth noting that the song’s cover art for ‘60 Miles’ features multiple illustrations of Lil RT flaunting American dollars in multiple orientations. Most prominently, the stack of dollars is flashed like a deck of cards in front of the rapper’s chest, and then to his left side, and in one image, the stack covers his entire face. In light of the three questions at hand, this imagery reveals a juxtaposition of acquiring immense wealth, leading to a disregard of others and worthy of flaunting these activities to women. For someone familiar with the secular hip-hop scene, this is such a ‘normal’ theme that it borders on a social cliché. Yet tradition does not grant immunity from scrutiny, and as a matter of fact, the more ‘conventional’ something is, the more criticism we should subject it to. The mere ordinariness of egotism about owning Lamborghinis and shooting n****s calls for a critique of the pervasiveness of this scene in Black America. This is especially critical now that a nine-year-old is preaching these themes to other prepubescent kids and the combined 5.5 Million viewers of ‘60 Miles’ on the two Youtube channels it was posted on.

Clearly then, it must be cause for concern – and critique – to watch a child sing this next verse: 

If she gon' suck the d***, go crazy
B****, I'm in a Lamb', keep on talkin'
Hit him with this glam, b****, I hand up with the Glock
Hit him in the Porsche, hit him with the Glock, I’ll take him down
Hit him in his face, make lil’ bro drop like he okay

Once again, the verse is about sex, luxury, and gun violence. These recurring themes are evident not only in Lil RT’s lyrics but also in the visual representation of his “From The Block” performance of the song. Sadly, in the video, adult men are prominently featured in the background. These men, whose hands Lil RT shakes after finishing the song, are seen smiling and nodding along as the rapper delivers this next verse as well:

B****, I got the Glock up on my side
If he try to run, clap him in the leg, lil’ n**** drop
B****, I’m in the sun, b****, I’m in Lamborghini, keep on talkin’
‘Cause b****, I’m in the sun
B****, I’ll throw a bullet out there, hit you in your f*****n’ face
And that b**** got switch up on the Glock
Hit him in the K, that b**** got blicked, hit him in his face (ah, ah)
She suck the d***, just go crazy
B****, I'm in a Lamb’, he keep on talkin’, hit him in the mouth

It becomes apparent in this verse that the word ‘b****’ can be used to refer to both women or other ‘lil bro(s)’ that Lil RT considers inferior to himself. Regardless of their gender, we never get to hear what this ‘b****’ has to say back to Lil RT, forcing us to turn to a different audience of the rapper’s boastful future conquests – the viewers of the Youtube video:

It warms my heart, my dear reader, that there is some sort of agreement, among the viewers of the video, that Lil RT is too young to be singing the contents of this song, which includes this next verse as well: 

B****, I got a Draco up on this s***, 50 round the glick
Hit him in the face, now lil’ bruh, he a fuckin' b****
100 round, hit him with the Glock, we never been took down
100 round, hit him with the Glock, we gon' take him down

I must say, there’s no age at which these lyrics could be justified. However, their acceptability — how much we tolerate them — should diminish in proportion to the singer’s age. Despite my reservations about children in entertainment, I have made peace with recent songs like ‘Miss Miss Westie’ by Kanye and Kim Kardashian’s daughter, North West. Its themes of self-identity and friendship make it more suitable for a young audience compared to the explicit content in Lil RT's ‘60 Miles’, where identity is tied to the ‘West side’ versus ‘East side’ rap conflict. He sings of this in the last verse of the song, that goes:

B****, she wanna suck the d***
B****, I'm from the west side
Not from east side, lil' b****, I'm from the west
P**** boy, he tryna play, hit him with the f*****n’ Drac'
That b**** got spent up on his day
B****, I'm 345, lil' baby

To echo the sentiment of the majority of his audience – there is a collective unease in watching someone who is barely halfway into childhood speak about issues that even adults cannot confront. Yet the reason I chose to write about this story today was the events that have followed since this song ‘went viral’. 

Since then, Lil RT has told adults who spoke of him to “shut up and mind your [their] business” and most recently, he performed his song ‘60 Miles’ in a (get this) club while smacking the bottom of a stripper and then humping on another’s. So much to say, the innocence of this child has been stripped (pun very much intended) naked and now he remains vulnerable to the dis-ease that has been slowly spreading across America, and truthfully, the entire world. This is the social cancer that is targeting children’s sexuality, both in word and deed, leaving them susceptible to not only being victims of sexual crimes, but even worse, perpetrators. For this, we have the sentiment of American “freedom” to blame. 

I'm deeply concerned, my dear reader, that our cherished ideal of the "land of the free" has devolved into a culture of recklessness. It's a grave error to mistake freedom for the ability to do and say anything without consequence, a misconception that may hold some truth for adults who understand the ramifications of their actions. However, for children like Lil RT, freedom must be tempered to ensure their growth into responsible members of society. This limited freedom acts as a shield, safeguarding their innocence from exploitation by adults who may seek to take advantage of them, whether intentionally or not.

Sadly, Lil RT's involvement in creating a song containing explicit language hints at a larger issue: the exploitation of children for monetary gain and social media fame. It appears that his guardians may be capitalizing on his potential for viral attention, robbing him of the chance to experience a genuine childhood away from the spotlight. Childhood is a sacred time that should be protected, yet we witness the exploitation of children's personal experiences and words for the sake of likes and views, even to the extent of exposing them to adult environments like clubs for financial gain. This exploitation not only constitutes a form of child labor but also poses potentially harmful consequences that extend far beyond the immediate moment.