Let’s Start Here – Lil Yachty’s Genre Advancing Album
Written by Blade Simensky on February 22, 2023
Lil Yachty is back but in a different format. The return of Lil Boat after two years comes in the form of a new genre-bending album, Let’s Start Here. If you aren’t already familiar with the positive Atlanta flair that Lil Yachty brings, this album will offer insight as an adaptation to his previous self and a beautiful step into the future of hip-hop.
Yachty, a rapper who emerged in the hip-hop scene during the SoundCloud era, was primarily viewed as a quirky off-key singer with humorous rhyming. In his early career, this style was embraced because of its catchy appeal and innovative nature but was disrespected by critics and enthusiasts for being viewed as a “phase” in the rap community.
“I think I created this album because I really wanted to be taken serious as an artist, not just some SoundCloud rapper, not some mumble rapper, not just some guy who made one hit… Music is everything to me, I respect all walks, not just rap and hip-hop but everything.”– Lil Yachty at the Let’s Start Here album experience party
Despite the hate, he has consistently proven critics wrong while enduring and evolving. The rapper has shown that he is first and foremost a talented lyricist with phenomenal production skills, but also more importantly he has displayed that he is genre-less.
He has made renowned tracks that set his foundation and solidified his style like “Broccoli,” “One Night” and “Minnesota.” Then following his breakout, he continued to elevate with each album and adapt to the culture. Whether it’s songs from his Teenage Emotions record in 2017, hits from his 2018 records Lil Boat 2 and Nuthin’ 2 Prove, or most recent albums Lil Boat 3 and Michigan Boy Boat, he has stayed relevant and integrated into the art ever since his debut.
This new album is another chapter for Yachty and more importantly, a new chapter for the entire culture of music as the future direction of hip-hop is being explored. Let’s Start Here is a psychedelic rock album, one of the first released by a rapper unannounced on January 27, 2023. This album has hints of jazz that are mixed with experimental rock and R&B, which may seem like a lot but are perfectly executed by Lil Yachty.
With clear inspiration from Tame Impala and MGMT in songs like “sHouLd I B?,” “the ride-“ and “running out of time,” the same style lingers throughout the track list. He holds onto the parts of his music that promote positivity and a sunshine-like state, especially in the lyrics. However, the production and delivery have completely evolved from a traditional MC to a bold and expansive instrumentation. This new level is a blended experience of all the genres that had previously paved the way for hip-hop, embracing jazz, rock, electronic and blues. The culmination of genres simultaneously pay homage to the black musicians who laid the groundwork for the upbringing of hits like this, while cultivating a new form of hip-hop for the future.
In “:(failure:(,“ Yachty gives philosophical insight from his own life as he describes his failures and state of mind, which provokes new thoughts into the minds of listeners through spoken word. Songs like these hint at a reset from his entry-level styles to a mature state of Lil Boat which will birth remarkable records and make giant leaps for hip hop.
Songs like “WE SAW THE SUN!,” “THE zone-“ and “paint the sky” are the standout songs from the album that best embody the new wave and renaissance of hip-hop music. The songs “drive ME crazy!” and “sAy sOMETHINg” are jazz-based records with a disco rhythm flair. Vocals on tracks like “The Alchemist.” are a perfect performance of Yachty’s ability to collaborate with artists like Alex G, Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s Jake Portrait, Daniel Ceasar, and Justine Skye. He utilizes a wide-ranged flow of notes that maintain his original modulation but pair smoothly with his partners and raise the energy of the album subtly from start to finish. At the end of the album, the energy reaches its peak in “REACH THE SUNSHINE,” which closes the album’s themes of maturity and evolution with the song title’s metaphor and thus reaching a new level in hip hop.
Yachty is bold, expansive, and earnest on Let’s Start Here. He is genre-advancing while showcasing the maturity of his talents, the intellect he integrates into his work and the cohesive creativeness that hip-hop desperately desires. The end of his older expression and entry into the unknown leads us to the question: Where will hip-hop go next as this era ends? SoundCloud rappers have either evolved or fallen off, TikTok hits are regarded as too mainstream, and unless you are an established hall-of-fame artist that doesn’t need to change, where do we go next? We have a few hints with Drake’s Honestly Nevermind and Beyoncé’s Renaissance as they enter the electronic dance realm, where perhaps the title “renaissance” signalizes enlightenment in the hip-hop community. Additionally, Playboi Carti’s whole lotta red tour replicated punk rock and Travis Scott’s upcoming album Utopia is rumored to be psychedelic-based rap.
No matter what happens in the future, Let’s Start Here is a “rebuke of the notion that listeners have abandoned the full-length album. The record’s tight 57 minutes feel as cohesive a project as any artist has released in the streaming era,” said Rolling Stone. This album deserves a listen from start to finish as Lil Yachty emerges as one of music’s boldest creatives.
Yachty will be at the upcoming Okeechobee Musics & Arts Festival where he will perform songs from his new album for the first time. He claimed,
“This will be like no Yachty show you’ve ever seen before.”Lil Yachty via Okeechobee Festival Instagram