By: Jackson Diol
In 2016, Lil Yachty came onto the rap scene with a unique sound unlike no other. Hailing from Atlanta, Georgia, Lil Yachty rapped and sang on top of chirpy, trap beats. Songs like “Minnesota,” and “One Night” showcases Yachty as a playful, non-serious rapper. For his time, Yachty was considered either a pioneer of hip-hop, or a terrible artist. Over time, it has been realized that Lil Yachty has been very important to the sound of hip-hop in the late 2010s. Even with the success he has achieved, Lil Yachty seeks further validation.
After 2016, Yachty kept on being in his hip-hop lane, dropping projects like Teenage Emotions (2017), and Nothin’ 2 Prove (2018). In more recent years, Yachty played a big role in Drake and 21 Savage’s album Her Loss (2022). Although Yachty might have conquered hip-hop, he had a fond spot for alternative rock. This was evident in Tame Impala’s remix of “Breath Deeper” which featured Yachty himself. In early 2023 we got rumblings of a new Lil yachty that was just alternative rock. On January 27, 2023, we got Let’s Start Here.
Did Lil Yachty conquer yet another genre? Here is a track-to-track breakthrough of the entire album:
The BLACK seminole.
When thinking of Yachty’s ambition for this album, there are only so many things one could do to introduce this new world. The opening for this album is a lavish, Pink Floydian jam that can only be described as epic. In this song, Yachty compares himself to the Black Seminoles. Historically, the Black Seminoles were a group in the mid-twentieth century made up of Indians and freed slaves. Like a freed slave, Lil Yachty feels free, possibly from switching genres. Yachty’s song perfectly sets the mood for an adventurous and innovative record.
The first aspect of “the ride-“ I gravitated to be the soaring guitar passages laced through the entire song. Along with the guitars, Lil Yachty’s boyish vocals also fit perfectly with the heavy, synch base. Joining Lil Yachty on this song is rapper/ singer Teezo Touchdown. The two complement each other very well. The song transitions into the next song “running out of time” with impressive instrumentation.
running out of time
“running out of time” goes in a funkier direction, reminiscing of 70s funk music with a futurist edge. This funkier direction is explained when it’s found out that Magdalena Bay helped produce the song. Yachty sings about how he wants a significant other to stay after telling them many secrets. Justine Skye is enlisted to help Lil Yachty with backing vocals.
“pRETTy” brings comedic elements to the LP. That is eminently apparent from the first line delivered by Foushee, “come bust this p***y open.” The song contains a vocal
sample recorded by Yachty himself that repeats throughout the whole song. Yachty also interpolates his own song “Poland” on the chorus. Foushee brings a sweet enjoyable feature that compliments the song’s silly nature.
The only interlude on the album sees Yachty reflecting on his past and delving into his feelings. He speaks about being rich, failure, and happiness. Yachty explains how failure can be a way to find something else to do, eventually leading to happiness. The backing instrumentation is done by Mac Demarco and Alex G.
“THE zone~” builds on the feelings Yachty has about his career and life. Yachty sings about how not feeling at home will make someone feel alone or stranded. Yachty switching genres might be a way for him to feel better and more at home. Justin Skye returns as a feature in this song and adds to the question “what is home?” It is only assumed that Yachty is always on the hunt to find his place where he belongs.
WE SAW THE SUN!
Following in the footsteps of “running out of time”, Yachty produces another spacy, futuristic song. Instrumentally the song feels fun but lyrically Yachty is not in the best space. Yachty compares the sun to releasing the truth, while the dark is hiding your secrets. Seeing the sun means you have seen the truth; you are more enlightened for better or for worse. Yachty sings soaked in reverb, alluding to him being in a very psychedelic place.
drive ME crazy!
“drive ME crazy!” is slightly influenced by Japanese city pop in the first half of the song. Diana Gordon sings the intro of the song on top of a thumping drum rhythm and slick keyboards. Gordon sings this catchy chorus that is impossible to get out of your head. Yachty sings about wanting to be close to someone. The song’s second half is far more minimal instrumentally. Yachty here becomes much more sentimental and realizes the more important things in life.
IVE OFFICIALLY LOST ViSiON!!!!
Like the album intro, this is another grand, epic song. “IVE OFFICIALLY LOST ViSiON!!!!” starts with a powerful snare loop that leads to distorted guitars. Lil Yachty sings with an unbelievable amount of reverb. The reverb adds to the overall psychedelic quality the song possesses. Diana Gordon is featured in the middle of the song, singing on top of piano cords. Overall “IVE OFFICIALLY LOST ViSiON!!!!” is the most psychedelic song on the album.
“sAy sOMETHINg” shows Yachty begging for a girl to “say something.” He is infatuated with this girl so much; it makes him feel like a teenager again. Unfortunately, the girl is
giving mixed signals, making Yachty feel desperate. Instrumentally, the song fits well with the rest of the album. Yachty also uses his “Poland” voice in the song.
paint THE sky
Lil Yachty continues his lust for love on “paint THE sky.” Due to his love for another person, he has resorted to drinking and smoking. This song is an example of how this album talks about drugs and love. Instrumentally, the song features spacy synths and a crunchy snare drum. The chorus of the song is very similar to the chorus of “Late Night Taking” by Harry Styles. Styles is not credited anywhere but interestingly enough, the song has a Tory Lanez writing credit.
sHouLd I B?
Transitioning perfectly from the outro of “paint THE sky,” “sHouLd I B?” is a catchy song that follows the themes of love. In this song, Yachty questions whether he should be mad at a significant other. Although he should be mad, he is not and wishes they could just be together. The song also follows much of the album’s instrumental themes. Buzzing guitars and a punching beat are all present in the song.
Just like the previous two songs, “The Alchemist” transitions well with the song before it. Unlike the previous though, Yachty feels great and one with himself. Foushee boosts these sentiments by singing “I’m living a good life, we living a good life.” Snare drums rip into this song similarly to the song “paint THE sky.” The outro features these beautiful organs that swell into the last track of the album, “REACH THE SUNSHINE.”
REACH THE SUNSHINE.
On the final track of the album, Yachty tells the audience to “speak with your mind,” and their goal should be “to reach the sunshine.” Here it is possible that Yachty wants people to reach out and explore themselves. Just like how Yachty branched out with this album, he wants the audience to do something similar. Daniel Caesar beautifully sings an interpolation of “Pyramid Song” by Radiohead on top of simple guitar chords. The song builds into a grand finale with closes out this epic journey.
In Let’s Start Here, Lil Yachty is in control of his own fate and how people perceive him. Yachty managed to not only switch genres but switch genres perfectly. What is enjoyable about an alternative rock album is enjoyable on Let’s Start Here. What Yachty has done is something most rappers cannot do. Rappers like Vic Mensa, Lil Wayne, and Kid Cudi have failed to properly give rock the justice it deserves. Lil Yachty not only respected the genre, but he also collaborated with pioneers of the genre itself such as Mac Demarco and Alex G.
On the album, Yachty displays his true self as an artist. Just like how he pushed the boundaries of hip-hop, Yachty is pushing the boundaries of what it means to be a rapper. Yachty even puts his own spin on an alternative rock with his unique vocals. Songs like
“pRETTy” and “sHouLd I B?” showcases Yachty’s unique, boyish vocals. Although his voice is unique, it can also feel tiring after repeat listens. His voice is special, and it might not be for everyone. If you like his previous albums, you should find a lot of things to like about Let’s Start Here.