Album Review

Lil Yachty’s ‘Let’s Start Here’: A Renaissance

todayFebruary 4, 2023 139 1 7 5

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By Kenlie Golleher
Rap Music Director

This year has already started off strong for music fans, with Lil Yachty releasing one of the most adventurous and creative projects I have seen come out in a very long time.

Lil Yachty, who is often referred to by his alter ego alias, Lil Boat, first started making waves in the hip-hop community back in 2015 after releasing songs such as “One Night” and “Minnesota” on the music streaming service, SoundCloud. The popularity of these singles garnered a lot of attention, unlocking the doors to a whole new subgenre of trap music that is fittingly named “bubblegum trap” after its playful melodies and classic trap elements, such as snare kicks and heavy bass drums, as well as the usage of R-rated lyrics to top it all off.

Another big break for Yachty early on in his career was his inclusion in the XXL 2016 Freshman Class, along with a superstar lineup consisting of Kodak Black, Lil Uzi Vert, 21 Savage, Denzel Curry, Lil Dicky, Anderson .Paak, Desiigner, G Herbo and Dave East.

Yachty’s discography before 2021 had stuck close to his trap roots, hardly straying away towards different sounds. He was categorized as a “mumble rapper” early on and honestly didn’t do much to break out of that box for the longest time. While I still enjoyed what he had to bring to the table, I often found him to be repetitive and predictable.

It wasn’t until his collaboration with Tame Impala on the track “Breathe Deeper — Lil Yachty Remix” in October 2021 that we finally got to see him experiment with a new sound that we had yet to hear from him before.

I will admit that when this remix first dropped, I wasn’t the biggest fan of it. “Breathe Deeper” is one of my favorite tracks from Tame Impala, so hearing Yachty’s signature auto-tuned flow over a song that I already loved so much was just something that took time for my ears and mind to get acclimated to. While I admit I wasn’t necessarily a fan at first, I was still very excited to see him collaborate with an artist like Kevin Parker, and it got me really intrigued as to which direction Yachty would begin to steer his sound.

The album cover is an AI-generated illustration of men and women wearing suits in a boardroom with contorted facial features and warped smiles.
Lil Yachty’s Let’s Start Here AI-generated album cover. Rights belong to Quality Control, Capital and Motown records.

Prior to the release of Let’s Start Here, I hadn’t really been keeping tabs on the actual rollout or release date of the project. It wasn’t until the day of its drop that I noticed a lot of people on Twitter talking about it, which immediately got me to strap on my headphones and hop over to Spotify to press play.

Now, while I knew Yachty was dabbling in psychedelic rock, nothing could’ve prepared me for what was about to go through my ears. Literally one second into the intro track, “the BLACK seminole”, I was already entranced by the Pink Floyd-esque synth sounds running back and forth through my headphones. Once the 26-second mark hit, that’s when I really started paying full attention. The entire duration of my listening experience, from start to finish, was spent in awe of what I was listening to. While I do think his voice can be a bit of a hit-or-miss sometimes, I didn’t find myself bothered by it on this record, as I was so encapsulated by the instrumentals and soundscapes being created to even put a lot of my attention towards his vocals.

Additionally, despite it not being the most impressive cut on the album, my own personal life experiences led to an emotional first reaction to the track “sHouLd i B?”, which made me love this project even more. Relatability is a big thing for me when I listen to music, so when I’m able to emotionally bind to an album, I’m really stuck with it for life.

Overall, despite this being a non-rap, alternative, psych-rock album, I still feel like my two worlds collided. Rap and psychedelic rock are my favorite genres, but finding crossovers between the two is rare; having a conventional rap artist create a psychedelic rock album as incredible as this one really made my heart full. This album was truly the crème de la crème for me, especially with Tame Impala and Pink Floyd being my favorite bands and what I felt had the most influence and sonic parallels on the record.

It’s obvious through the writing and production credits we see on this album that Yachty is well-versed in the genres that inspired this new direction, and it’s his collaboration with these veterans and pioneers of the psychedelic realm that allowed this project to reach heights it might not have seen without them. I could tell a lot of patience, dedication, trial-and-error and love went into the creation of this project, so it makes me so happy to see all the positive reactions it’s been receiving from the music community as a whole; not just from rap fans.

Even legendary Roots drummer, Questlove, has come out showing his love for the project, saying it has made him “hyped about music’s future.” A project like this from an artist like Lil Yachty was 1000% unexpected, which is why I think Let’s Start Here is such a huge project that I’m glad is receiving its praise and flowers. I can’t imagine the nerves he was feeling after finally releasing this to the public.

This just goes to show that despite the boxes people might place you in, there is always a way for you to grow and break through people’s perceptions of what you can and can’t be or achieve. Yachty made a really bold move with Let’s Start Here, and boy did it pay off.

Featured Image from Twitter

Written by: Amaya Lewis

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