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Lil Yachty and James Blake officially announce their collaborative album, Bad Cameo

Lil Yachty and James Blake have officially confirmed the release date for their forthcoming collaborative album, Bad Cameo.

Earlier this year, Yachty hinted at the new collaboration being on the way after sharing a clip of himself talking about the project on Instagram.

In a recent cover story interview, the pair discussed how their different musical backgrounds and approaches to songwriting have complemented each other, resulting in an album that reflects their shared passion for innovation and excellence in music. Speaking to Complex , Blake said: “I've been a fan of Yachty for years, and when I heard his last record [ Let's Start Here ], I was like, this is really a turn. Not many artists are brave enough to do something that’s kind of opposite of the last thing they did.”

View this post on Instagram A post shared by CONCRETE BOY BOAT^ (@lilyachty)

Bad Cameo , is set for release on 28 June via Quality Control Music/Motown Records/Polydor Records, and is available to pre-save now .

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Lil Yachty and Takeoff Have a Joint Project Coming Soon

After closing out the year with their Control the Streets Vol. 1 compilation, Quality Control looks to kick off the year in a big way with the release of the Migos' new album Culture II and Lil Yachty 's Lil Boat 2 project. But wait, there's more. Apparently, Yachty and Takeoff have a joint project on the horizon as well.

Boat recently hopped on Instagram Live and chopped it up with fans. During the session, a new track featuring the King of the Teens and Takeoff plays in the background. After it concludes, Yachty notes, "I been quiet, just finishing my shit up. That was me and Takeoff, by the way. Me and Takeoff's project coming real soon. Lil Boat 2 coming soon, all that."

Boat hinted that a collab with Takeoff was a real possibility back in December when a Twitter user predicted a tape between the two Atlanta rappers was happening. "I smell a takeoff yatchy tape coming @1YoungTakeoff @lilyachty," he wrote. "You smart 👀," Yachty replied.

Earlier this month, Yachty announced to fans that his Lil Boat 2 project was complete. "Lil boat 2 is done kid," he revealed in live stream comments.

In other joint project-related news, XXXTentacion and Joey Bada$$ recently teased a collab tape might be on the way.

Check out Boat revealing the joint project with Takeoff below.

Go Behind the Scenes With Lil Yachty at 2016 XXL Freshman Cover Shoot

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Lil Yachty Teases an Upcoming Collab Project With Takeoff

The latest rap team-up..

After hinting at a Takeoff collab project late last year, Lil Yachty recently confirmed that the team-up is really happening. During an Instagram Live session, Lil Boat updated his fans on the upcoming release of Lil Boat 2 and previewed a track. After playing the unreleased track, Yachty said, “I been quiet, just finishing my shit up. That was me and Takeoff, by the way. Me and Takeoff’s project coming real soon. Lil Boat 2 coming soon, all that.”

If that wasn’t enough confirmation, the King of the Teens replied to a fan on Twitter who noted a Yachty x Takeoff collab project was in the works. Check out Lil Yachty’s teaser for his upcoming Takeoff collab project above and stay tuned for more information regarding the team-up.

You smart 👀 — king of the youth (@lilyachty) December 24, 2017

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With ‘Let’s Start Here,’ Lil Yachty Emerges as Music’s Boldest Creative Director

By Jeff Ihaza

Lil Yachty is rich. The 25-year-old musician posts TikToks featuring exotic Italian furniture, and goes vintage shopping with Drake. By the time he graduated high school, he’d already bought his mom a house. He caused a mild international incident with his viral hit “Poland,” a loosie released late last year in which he croons, with impossible sincerity, about bringing illegal pharmaceuticals into Poland. One couldn’t imagine a more charmed Gen Z existence. And yet, on “:(failure(:,” an early interlude from his left-turn of a new album, Let’s Start Here, he says that he’s “seen failure a few times/More recently than before, actually.”

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Maturation is a central theme of the album. You can hear the inspiration of Tame Impala ’s anxious midlife musing on “the ride-,” featuring rap experimentalist Teezo Touchdown. The song’s lush, psych-rock production makes for a fitting landscape. We’re bearing witness to a childhood’s end, as both howl into the void. There is, indeed, a lot of howling on the album. 

Oohs and ahhs stretch to the heavens with intention — like on standout “pRETTY,” which is already proving to be a hit on TikTok, and sounds like a slowed bedroom cut from the cult label Naked Music. Percussion rumbles gently over the staggering two-step, while a sensual, otherworldly warble breaks through the clouds like a ray of sunshine in spring. 

Lil Yachty and James Blake to Release 'Bad Cameo' This Month

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You could call Let’s Start Here 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. Yachty’s genuine adoration of his musical inspirations is like the Gen Z alchemy of Pinkpantheress, able to turn familiar source material into something entirely new. 

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Lil Yachty

Lil Yachty On His Big Rock Pivot: ‘F-ck Any of the Albums I Dropped Before This One’

With his adventurous, psychedelic new album, 'Let's Start Here,' he's left mumble rap behind — and finally created a project he's proud of.

By Lyndsey Havens

Lyndsey Havens

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Lil Yachty, presented by Doritos, will perform at Billboard Presents The Stage at SXSW on March 16 .

Lil Yachty: Photos From the Billboard Cover Shoot

Someone has sparked a blunt in the planetarium.

It may be a school night, but no one has come to the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, N.J., to learn. Instead, the hundreds of fans packed into the domed theater on Jan. 26 have come to hear Lil Yachty’s latest album as he intended: straight through — and with an open mind. Or, as Yachty says with a mischievous smile: “I hope y’all took some sh-t.”

For the next 57 minutes and 16 seconds, graphics of exploding spaceships, green giraffes and a quiet road through Joshua Tree National Park accompany Yachty’s sonically divergent — and at this point, unreleased — fifth album, Let’s Start Here . For a psychedelic rock project that plays like one long song, the visual aids not only help attendees embrace the bizarre, but also function as a road map for Yachty’s far-out trip, signaling that there is, in fact, a tracklist.

It’s a night the artist has arguably been waiting for his whole career — to finally release an album he feels proud of. An album that was, he says, made “from scratch” with all live instrumentation. An album that opens with a nearly seven-minute opus, “the BLACK seminole.,” that he claims he had to fight most of his collaborative team to keep as one, not two songs. An album that, unlike his others, has few features and is instead rich with co-writers like Mac DeMarco, Nick Hakim, Alex G and members of MGMT, Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Chairlift. An album he believes will finally earn him the respect and recognition he has always sought.

Sitting in a Brooklyn studio in East Williamsburg not far from where he made most of Let’s Start Here in neighboring Greenpoint, it’s clear he has been waiting to talk about this project in depth for some time. Yachty is an open book, willing to answer anything — and share any opinion. (Especially on the slice of pizza he has been brought, which he declares “tastes like ass.”) Perhaps his most controversial take at the moment? “F-ck any of the albums I dropped before this one.”

His desire to move on from his past is understandable. When Yachty entered the industry in his mid-teens with his 2016 major-label debut, the Lil Boat mixtape, featuring the breakout hit “One Night,” he found that along with fame came sailing the internet’s choppy waters. Skeptics often took him to task for not knowing — or caring, maybe — about rap’s roots, and he never shied away from sharing hot takes on Twitter. With his willingness and ability to straddle pop and hip-hop, Yachty produced music he once called “bubble-gum trap” (he has since denounced that phrase) that polarized audiences and critics. Meanwhile, his nonchalant delivery got him labeled as a mumble rapper — another identifier he was never fond of because it felt dismissive of his talent.

“There’s a lot of kids who haven’t heard any of my references,” he continues. “They don’t know anything about Bon Iver or Pink Floyd or Black Sabbath or James Brown. I wanted to show people a different side of me — and that I can do anything, most importantly.”

Let’s Start Here is proof. Growing up in Atlanta, the artist born Miles McCollum was heavily influenced by his father, a photographer who introduced him to all kinds of sounds. Yachty, once easily identifiable by his bright red braids, found early success by posting songs like “One Night” to SoundCloud, catching the attention of Kevin “Coach K” Lee, co-founder/COO of Quality Control Music, now home to Migos, Lil Baby and City Girls. In 2015, Coach K began managing Yachty, who in summer 2016 signed a joint-venture deal with Motown, Capitol Records and Quality Control.

“Yachty was me when I was 18 years old, when I signed him. He was actually me,” says Coach K today. (In 2021, Adam Kluger, whose clients include Bhad Bhabie, began co-managing Yachty.) “All the eclectic, different things, we shared that with each other. He had been wanting to make this album from the first day we signed him. But you know — coming as a hip-hop artist, you have to play the game.”

Yachty played it well. To date, he has charted 17 songs on the Billboard Hot 100 , including two top 10 hits for his features on DRAM’s melodic 2016 smash “Broccoli” and Kyle’s 2017 pop-rap track “iSpy.” His third-highest-charting entry arrived unexpectedly last year: the 93-second “Poland,” a track Yachty recorded in about 10 minutes where his warbly vocals more closely resemble singing than rapping. ( Let’s Start Here collaborator SADPONY saw “Poland” as a temperature check that proved “people are going to like this Yachty.”)

Beginning with 2016’s Lil Boat mixtape, all eight of Yachty’s major-label-released albums and mixtapes have charted on the Billboard 200 . Three have entered the top 10, including Let’s Start Here , which debuted and peaked at No. 9. And while Yachty has only scored one No. 1 album before ( Teenage Emotions topped Rap Album Sales), Let’s Start Here debuted atop three genre charts: Top Rock & Alternative Albums , Top Rock Albums and Top Alternative Albums .

“It feels good to know that people in that world received this so well,” says Motown Records vp of A&R Gelareh Rouzbehani. “I think it’s a testament to Yachty going in and saying, ‘F-ck what everyone thinks. I’m going to create something that I’ve always wanted to make — and let us hope the world f-cking loves it.’ ”

Yet despite Let’s Start Here ’s many high-profile supporters, some longtime detractors and fans alike were quick to criticize certain aspects of it, from its art — Yachty quote-tweeted one remark , succinctly replying, “shut up” — to the music itself. Once again, he found himself facing another tidal wave of discourse. But this time, he was ready to ride it. “This release,” Kluger says, “gave him a lot of confidence.”

“I was always kind of nervous to put out music, but now I’m on some other sh-t,” Yachty says. “It was a lot of self-assessing and being very real about not being happy with where I was musically, knowing I’m better than where I am. Because the sh-t I was making did not add up to the sh-t I listened to.

“I just wanted more,” he continues. “I want to be remembered. I want to be respected.”

Last spring, Lil Yachty gathered his family, collaborators and team at famed Texas studio complex Sonic Ranch.

“I remember I got there at night and drove down because this place is like 30 miles outside El Paso,” Coach K says. “I walked in the room and just saw all these instruments and sh-t, and the vibe was just so ill. And I just started smiling. All the producers were in the room, his assistant, his dad. Yachty comes in, puts the album on. We got to the second song, and I told everybody, ‘Stop the music.’ I walked over to him and just said, ‘Man, give me a hug.’ I was like, ‘Yachty, I am so proud of you.’ He came into the game bold, but [to make] this album, you have to be very bold. And to know that he finally did it, it was overwhelming.”

SADPONY (aka Jeremiah Raisen) — who executive-produced Let’s Start Here and, in doing so, spent nearly eight straight months with Yachty — says the time at Sonic Ranch was the perfect way to cap off the months of tunnel vision required while making the album in Brooklyn. “That was new alone,” says Yachty. “I’ve recorded every album in Atlanta at [Quality Control]. That was the first time I recorded away from home. First time I recorded with a new engineer,” Miles B.A. Robinson, a Saddle Creek artist.

Yachty couldn’t wait to put it out, and says he turned it in “a long time ago. I think it was just label sh-t and trying to figure out the right time to release it.” For Coach K, it was imperative to have the physical product ready on release date, given that Yachty had made “an experience” of an album. And lately, most pressing plants have an average turnaround time of six to eight months.

Fans, however, were impatient. On Christmas, one month before Let’s Start Here would arrive, the album leaked online. It was dubbed Sonic Ranch . “Everyone was home with their families, so no one could pull it off the internet,” recalls Yachty. “That was really depressing and frustrating.”

Then, weeks later, the album art, tracklist and release date also leaked. “My label made a mistake and sent preorders to Amazon too early, and [the site] posted it,” Yachty says. “So I wasn’t able to do the actual rollout for my album that I wanted to. Nothing was a secret anymore. It was all out. I had a whole plan that I had to cancel.” He says the biggest loss was various videos he made to introduce and contextualize the project, all of which “were really weird … [But] I wasn’t introducing it anymore. People already knew.” Only one, called “Department of Mental Tranquility,” made it out, just days before the album.

Yachty says he wasn’t necessarily seeking a mental escape before making Let’s Start Here , but confesses that acid gave him one anyway. “I guess maybe the music went along with it,” he says. The album title changed four or five times, he says, from Momentary Bliss (“It was meant to take you away from reality … where you’re truly listening”) to 180 Degrees (“Because it’s the complete opposite of anything I’ve ever done, but people were like, ‘It’s too on the nose’ ”) to, ultimately, Let’s Start Here — the best way, he decided, to succinctly summarize where he was as an artist: a seven-year veteran, but at 25 years old, still eager to begin a new chapter.

Taking inspiration from Dark Side , Yachty relied on three women’s voices throughout the album, enlisting Fousheé, Justine Skye and Diana Gordon. Otherwise, guest vocals are spare. Daniel Caesar features on album closer “Reach the Sunshine.,” while the late Bob Ross (of The Joy of Painting fame) has a historic posthumous feature on “We Saw the Sun!”

Rouzbehani tells Billboard that Ross’ estate declined Yachty’s request at first: “I think a big concern of theirs was that Yachty is known as a rapper, and Bob Ross and his brand are very clean. They didn’t want to associate with anything explicit.” But Yachty was adamant, and Rouzbehani played the track for Ross’ team and also sent the entire album’s lyrics to set the group at ease. “With a lot of back-and-forth, we got the call,” she says. “Yachty is the first artist that has gotten a Bob Ross clearance in history.”

From the start, Coach K believed Let’s Start Here would open lots of doors for Yachty — and ultimately, other artists, too. Questlove may have said it best, posting the album art on Instagram with a lengthy caption that read in part: “this lp might be the most surprising transition of any music career I’ve witnessed in a min, especially under the umbrella of hip hop … Sh-t like this (envelope pushing) got me hyped about music’s future.”

Recently, Lil Yachty held auditions for an all-women touring band. “It was an experience for like Simon Cowell or Randy [Jackson],” he says, offering a simple explanation for the choice: “In my life, women are superheroes.”

And according to Yachty, pulling off his show will take superhuman strength: “Because the show has to match the album. It has to be big.” As eager as he was to release Let’s Start Here , he’s even more antsy to perform it live — but planning a tour, he says, required gauging the reaction to it. “This is so new for me, and to be quite honest with you, the label [didn’t] know how [the album] would do,” he says. “Also, I haven’t dropped an album in like three years. So we don’t even know how to plan a tour right now because it has been so long and my music is so different.”

While Yachty’s last full-length studio album, Lil Boat 3 , arrived in 2020, he released the Michigan Boy Boat mixtape in 2021, a project as reverential of the state’s flourishing hip-hop scenes in Detroit and Flint as Let’s Start Here is of its psych-rock touchstones. And though he claims he doesn’t do much with his days, his recent accomplishments, both musical and beyond, suggest otherwise. He launched his own cryptocurrency, YachtyCoin, at the end of 2020; signed his first artist, Draft Day, to his Concrete Boyz label at the start of 2021; invested in the Jewish dating app Lox Club; and launched his own line of frozen pizza, Yachty’s Pizzeria, last September. (He has famously declared he has never eaten a vegetable; at his Jersey City listening event, there was an abundance of candy, doughnut holes and Frosted Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop-Tarts.)

But there are only two things that seem to remotely excite him, first and foremost of which is being a father. As proud as he is of Let’s Start Here , he says it comes in second to having his now 1-year-old daughter — though he says with a laugh that she “doesn’t really give a f-ck” about his music yet. “I haven’t played [this album] for her, but her mom plays her my old stuff,” he continues. “The mother of my child is Dominican and Puerto Rican, so she loves Selena — she plays her a lot . [We watch] the Selena movie with Jennifer Lopez a sh-t ton and a lot of Disney movie sh-t, like Frozen , Lion King and that type of vibe.”

Aside from being a dad, he most cares about working with other artists. Recently, he flew eight of his biggest fans — most of whom he has kept in touch with for years — to Atlanta. He had them over, played Let’s Start Here , took them to dinner and bowling, introduced them to his mom and dad, and then showed them a documentary he made for the album. (He’s not sure if he’ll release it.) One of the fans is an aspiring rapper; naturally, the two made a song together.

Yachty wants to keep working with artists and producers outside of hip-hop, mentioning the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and even sharing his dream of writing a ballad for Elton John. (“I know I could write him a beautiful song.”) With South Korean music company HYBE’s recent purchase of Quality Control — a $300 million deal — Yachty’s realm of possibility is bigger than ever.

But he’s not ruling out his genre roots. Arguably, Let’s Start Here was made for the peers and heroes he played it for first — and was inspired by hip-hop’s chameleons. “I would love to do a project with Tyler [The Creator],” says Yachty. “He’s the reason I made this album. He’s the one who told me to do it, just go for it. He’s so confident and I have so much respect for him because he takes me seriously, and he always has.”

Penske Media Corp. is the largest shareholder of SXSW ; its brands are official media partners of SXSW.

This story originally appeared in the March 11, 2023, issue of Billboard.

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Lil yachty confirms joint project with takeoff is ‘coming real soon’.

By Nerisha Penrose

Nerisha Penrose

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Lil Yachty Confirms Joint Project With Takeoff Is 'Coming Real Soon'

Collaborative projects have become the new norm in hip-hop lately as a slew of joint projects surfaced in 2017 from hip-hop’s top-tier acts like 21 Savage and Offset ‘s Without Warning ; Metro Boomin and Big Sean’s Double or Nothing ; Future and Young Thug’s Super Slimey , and plenty more. While we’re just a few weeks into the new year, it seems as if Lil Yachty is ready to lead the charge on this year’s collaborative projects and confirmed that he and Takeoff have their own ‘tape on the way.

READ: Lil Yachty Says He Was ‘Devastated’ By His Lackluster First Week Album Sales

During a recent Instagram live session, Yachty was driving in a car with a song — presumably titled “Ghost,” according to the car’s LCD screen — playing in the background. The rapper’s melodic, Auto-Tuned flow soared over the smooth, slow-burning track beefed up by a booming bass. “I understand I’ve been quiet, just finishing my shit up,” he told the fans tuned into his live stream. “That was me and Takeoff, by the way, me and Takeoff project coming real soon.” He added that his solo project Lil Boat 2 is also on the way.

READ: Quavo & Lil Yachty Clown Joe Budden In Their “Ice Tray” Video

Yachty teased the project last December when a fan noticed a rather strategic rollout of the Migos’ joint projects. Offset and 21 Savage kicked things off with Without Warning on Halloween and Quavo followed suit by wrapping up the year with him and Travis Scott’s highly anticipated Huncho Jack, Jack Huncho in December. When a fan wrote, “I smell a takeoff yatchy tape coming @1YoungTakeoff @lilyachty,” Yachty replied “You smart” confirming the forthcoming collaboration.

Listen to a snippet of “Ghost” below:

This story was originally posted to Billboard.

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Let’s Start Here.

“something ether”.

Lil Yachty, Future, Playboi Carti - Flex Up

Flex Up (with Future and Playboi Carti)

Lil Yachty - TESLA (Directed by Cole Bennett)

Strike (Holster)

Lil Yachty - sAy sOMETHINg


lil yachty takeoff album

Lil Yachty's Label Concrete Boyz set to release their first collaboration project 'It's Us Volume 1' this April

A ccording to NFR Podcast, Lil Yachty's record label, Concrete Boys (also known as Concrete Boyz), is set to release their first collaboration project titled It's Us: Volume 1 on all streaming platforms this April.

NFR's official X account posted on March 25, confirming the release date of the Concrete Boyz project as April 5, 2024. The post also revealed the featured artists, including Lil Yachty, Karrahbooo, Draft Day, DC2Trill, and Camo. The tweet read:


The tracklist for the upcoming album is yet to be confirmed, but based on the artists involved in this project, it's likely to showcase a fusion of alternative rock, R&B, and rap.

Lil Yachty and Concrete Boys Discography

Yachty (Lil Boat), who is currently signed to Quality Control, incorporated his own Record Label Concrete Boyz, a few years ago in an attempt to bring upcoming artists in his genre to the spotlight.

Over the years, Yachty and his team have been slowly recruiting rappers and artists from across the music industry, from 31 Camo to Karahbooo, all of whose music appears to have been inspired by Boat's discography.

Lil Yachty has also collaborated with his signees on some of his previous work. Below are two songs officially released alongside Artist Draft Day:

  • Demon Time (Feat. Draft Day)
  • POPOVICH Freestyle (Feat. Draft Day)

On May 29, 2020, Yachty released his fourth studio album, titled Lil Boat 3 , across all DSPs (Digital Streaming Platforms) via Quality Control Music and Motown Records. The 19-track project included a track titled Concrete Boys .

This track acted as the official introduction to the "Concrete Crew" he was building with his record label. The song includes a shout-out to the Concrete Boys in the chorus when Yachty implies that when his "back is against the wall," he can always rely on his crew to come through for him.

Another notable bar from Lil Yachty's song has been listed below:

"I just woke up, dreamin' 'bout the rose (Oh my God) / They had ni**as 'round me who don't stand on toes (Hell nah) / Barely ever do I think about my foes / How much longer will I live? Only God knows."

On December 16, 2023, a song titled Mo Jams was released on the official YouTube channel for Concrete Boys, alongside a music video that featured most of the CB roster, except for 31 Camo. Mo Jams was produced by Rawbone and acts as the first official collaboration between the members of Concrete Boys.

This track, although not being released on DSPs, has garnered significant attention for an upcoming collaboration project by racking up almost 4 million views on YouTube.

As fans await a Concrete Boys collaboration album, Lil Yachty continues to impress fans by following up on his widely acclaimed 2023 project Let's Start Here, which found the rapper delving into a more experimental sound with his music.

Notably, Yachty has been releasing a string of singles, which include his collaboration with Fred Again.. on stayinit. The rapper was also featured on Lyrical Lemonade's debut studio album, All Is Yellow , which dropped two months ago in January 2024.

Lil Yachty's Label Concrete Boyz set to release their first collaboration project 'It's Us Volume 1' this April

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Let’s Start Here.

Lil Yachty Lets Start Here

By Alphonse Pierre

Quality Control / Motown

February 1, 2023

At a surprise listening event last Thursday,  Lil Yachty   introduced his new album  Let’s Start Here. , an unexpected pivot, with a few words every rap fan will find familiar: “I really wanted to be taken seriously as an artist, not just some SoundCloud rapper or some mumble rapper.” This is the speech rappers are obligated to give when it comes time for the drum loop to take a backseat to guitars, for the rapping to be muted in favor of singing, for the ad-libs to give it up to the background singers, and for a brigade of white producers with plaque-lined walls to be invited into the fold. 

Rap fans, including myself, don’t want to hear it, but the reality is that in large slices of music and pop culture, “rapper” is thrown around with salt on the tongue. Pop culture is powerfully influenced by hip-hop, that is until the rappers get too close and the hands reach for the pearls. If anything, the 25-year-old Yachty—as one of the few rappers of his generation able to walk through the front door anyway because of his typically Gushers-sweet sound and innocently youthful beaded braid look—might be the wrong messenger. 

What’s sour about Yachty’s statement isn’t the idea that he wants to be taken seriously as an artist, but the question of  who  he wants to be taken seriously by. When Yachty first got on, a certain corner of rap fandom saw his marble-mouthed enunciation and unwillingness to drool over hip-hop history as symbols of what was ruining the genre they claimed to love. A few artists more beholden to tradition did some finger-wagging— Pete Rock and  Joe Budden ,  Vic Mensa and  Anderson .Paak , subliminals from  Kendrick and  Cole —but that was years ago, and by now they’ve found new targets. These days, Yachty is respected just fine within rap. If he weren’t, his year-long rebirth in the Michigan rap scene, which resulted in the good-not-great  Michigan Boy Boat , would have been viewed solely as a cynical attempt to boost his rap bona fides. His immersion there felt earnest, though, like he was proving to himself that he could hang. 

The respect Yachty is chasing on  Let’s Start Here. feels institutional. It’s for the voting committees, for the suits; for  Questlove to shout him out as  the future , for Ebro to invite him  back on his radio show and say  My bad, you’re dope.  Never mind if you thought Lil Yachty was dope to start with: The goal of this album is to go beyond all expectations and rules for rappers.

And the big pivot is… a highly manicured and expensive blend of  Tame Impala -style psych-rock, A24 synth-pop, loungey R&B, and  Silk Sonic -esque funk, a sound so immediately appealing that it doesn’t feel experimental at all. In 2020, Yachty’s generational peers,  Lil Uzi Vert and  Playboi Carti , released  Eternal Atake and  Whole Lotta Red : albums that pushed forward pre-existing sounds to the point of inimitability, showcases not only for the artists’ raps but their conceptual visions. Yachty, meanwhile, is working within a template that is already well-defined and commercially successful. This is what the monologue was for? 

To Yachty’s credit, he gives the standout performance on a crowded project. It’s the same gift for versatility that’s made him a singular rapper: He bounces from style to style without losing his individuality. A less interesting artist would have been made anonymous by the polished sounds of producers like  Chairlift ’s Patrick Wimberly,  Unknown Mortal Orchestra ’s Jacob Portrait, and pop songwriters Justin and Jeremiah Raisen, or had their voice warped by writing credits that bring together  Mac DeMarco ,  Alex G , and, uh,  Tory Lanez . The production always leans more indulgent than thrilling, more scattershot than conceptual. But Yachty himself hangs onto the ideas he’s been struggling to articulate since 2017’s  Teenage Emotions : loneliness, heartbreak, overcoming failure. He’s still not a strong enough writer to nail them, and none of the professionals collecting checks in the credits seem to have been much help, but his immensely expressive vocals make up for it. 

Actually, for all the commotion about the genre jump on this project, the real draw is the ways in which Yachty uses Auto-Tune and other vocal effects as tools to unlock not just sounds but emotion. Building off the vocal wrinkle introduced on last year’s viral moment “ Poland ,” where he sounds like he’s cooing through a ceiling fan, the highlights on  Let’s Start Here. stretch his voice in unusual directions. The vocals in the background of his wistful hook on “pRETTy” sound like he’s trying to harmonize while getting a deep-tissue massage. His shrill melodies on “paint THE sky” could have grooved with  the Weeknd on  Dawn FM . The opening warble of “running out of time” is like Yachty’s imitation of  Bruno Mars imitating  James Brown , and the way he can’t quite restrain his screechiness enough to flawlessly copy it is what makes it original.

Too bad everything surrounding his unpredictable and adventurous vocal detours is so conventional. Instrumental moments that feel like they’re supposed to be weird and psychedelic—the hard rock guitar riff that coasts to a blissful finale in “the BLACK seminole.” or the slow build of “REACH THE SUNSHINE.”—come off like half-measures.  Diana Gordon ’s falsetto-led funk on “drive ME crazy!” reaches for a superhuman register, but other guest appearances, like  Fousheé ’s clipped lilts on “pRETTy” and  Daniel Caesar ’s faded howls on the outro, are forgettable. None of it is ever  bad : The synths on “sAy sOMETHINg” shimmer; the drawn-out intro and outro of “WE SAW THE SUN!” set the lost, trippy mood they’re supposed to; “THE zone~” blooms over and over again, underlined by  Justine Skye ’s sweet and unhurried melodies. It’s all so easy to digest, so pitch-perfect, so safe.  Let’s Start Here. clearly and badly wants to be hanging up on those dorm room walls with  Currents and  Blonde and  IGOR . It might just work, too. 

Instead, consider this album a reminder of how limitless rap can be. We’re so eager for the future of the genre to arrive that current sounds are viewed as restricting and lesser. But rap is everything you can imagine. I’m thinking about “Poland,” a song stranger than anything here: straight-up 1:23 of chaos, as inventive as it is fun. I took that track as seriously as anything I heard last year because it latches onto a simple rap melody and pushes it to the brink. Soon enough, another rapper will hear that and take it in another direction, then another will do the same. That’s how you really get to the future. 

Michigan Boy Boat

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Inside the Marble


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