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Lil Yachty’s Great Gig in the Sky

Portrait of Craig Jenkins

Since the release of his Lil Boat mixtape in 2016, Lil Yachty has cultivated a peculiar rap career that has benefited from versatile musical interests. The Atlanta rapper, singer, and producer’s early work juggled booming southern trap drums, gauzy synths, unclearable samples , and melodic sensibilities on loan from children’s television. Shifting listlessly between disaffected snark and sweet repose, the best songs answered the question of what Brian Wilson’s teenage symphonies might’ve sounded like if he’d grown up hanging around the Migos. On future projects, Yachty leaned into the gruff anthems of his labelmates on Atlanta’s Quality Control Music, toughening up on 2018’s Lil Boat 2 in some of the ways Drake did on Scorpion the same year, this after dividing critics and listeners with the synthpop and reggae excursions on Yachty’s 2017 debut studio album Teenage Emotions .

Restlessness saves his catalog from the pedestrian work of peers chasing the sound of a beloved early mixtape. Lil Yachty is always up to something , quietly penning an undisclosed piece of the City Girls smash “Act Up,” or producing a chunk of Drake and 21 Savage’s Her Loss , or logging an unlikely chart hit about sneaking promethazine through customs . He’s a lightning rod for guys who see a new wave of absurdists and crooners as a displacement of rap traditionalism (rather than a continuation of a detailed history within it); he knows what the fans are into and where they’re getting into it online, so accusations about his music ruining hip-hop are complicated by every unforeseen success. The work varies greatly in style as well as quality, but being difficult to pin down also buys him freedom to make unusual plays.

Let’s Start Here , his fifth album and first full-length excursion into psychedelic rock, didn’t spawn entirely from nowhere, and not just because it sprung a leak under the name Sonic Beach a few weeks back. His appearance on a remix for Tame Impala’s Slow Rush jam “Breathe Deeper” hits a few of the markers the new album visits: the taste for psychotropic drugs and the interaction between the shimmering sound achieved by an elaborate pedal board and raps that feel both lightly thought through and also spirited and spontaneous. The first song, “The Black Seminole,” outlines the project’s guiding ethos, from its burbling, delay-drenched analog-synthesizer sound to the trippy changes and show-stopping vocal performance by “Bad Habit” co-writer Diana Gordon — all of which amount to an attempt to jam every idea housed in Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon into a single seven-minute performance. Bolstered by memorable spots from Gordon (who gives the Clare Torry screams in “Failure” and “Seminole” her all), Fousheé (whose softCORE album served rockers like “Die” and “Bored” that share Yachty’s love of walls of noise), and Justine Skye, the new album makes more space for women in its love songs than most rappers percolating on the charts tend to care to now. (Note also the presence of one Daystar Peterson in the credits as a co-writer on “Paint the Sky.”)

Let’s Start Here journeys back in time and out to space and sometimes up its own ass. It’s a drug odyssey that delightfully defies expectations whenever it’s not overindulging, taking its adulation for its influences from pastiche to parody, pushing its sound from psych to cacophony. Much will be made of Kevin Parker’s impact here, because Tame is also a project about savvily jumbling ideas from other eras and getting synthesizers to feel as delicately enveloping as puffs of smoke. It’s also an oversimplification of the scope of Let’s Start Here to call it Lil Yachty’s Tame album. Patrick Wimberly co-produced every song, and the snap of the drum sound and the flair for gooey horn accompaniment are assets Chairlift — Wimberly’s former group with Caroline Polachek and Aaron Pfenning — used to employ. U.K. producer Jam City and Yves Tumor collaborator Justin Raisen sat in on a lot of these, too; the maximalist sonics and the mix of love songs and acid-addled horror here are both a result of its pick of personnel and an authentic re-creation of the wild fluctuations of a lurid trip.

Its intriguing bio- and band chemistry are Let’s Start Here ’s gift and curse. “Running Out of Time” kicks off with drums that feel like Thundercat’s “Them Changes” (which, in turn, feels like Paul McCartney’s “Arrow Through Me”) and a bubbly bass line evoking “Lovely Day” by Bill Withers. Pushing through to a gorgeous bridge, matching vocals with Skye, Yachty pokes out from under the shadow of his forebears and delivers one of the finest bits of music he’s ever made. The blissed out “The Ride” plants the Texas rapper Teezo Touchdown into a wobbly groove that could’ve fit into last year’s Yeah Yeah Yeahs album. It feels like both songs could collapse at any moment, hanging a sharp turn into an unflattering section wrecking the momentum they built. Equally prone to swift tense shifts and long detours, Let’s Start Here meanders a great deal between highlights, raining sheets of sound that soak and weigh down the delicate grooves it’s trying to build. “Paint the Sky” sounds like a radio hit dropped into a flooded pit cave. These songs sink or swim on Lil Yachty’s ability to steady himself amid a maelstrom of phase-shifted guitars, delay-kissed drums, and synths shrouded in reverb. He’s a good study and a great hook man, but the novelty of some of his experiments wear off as ideas repeat and choruses get smothered. The less they tinker, the better.

Restraint guides Let’s Start Here to a few of its most sublime moments. “Pretty” will draw comparisons to Childish Gambino’s Awaken My Love! and the hit slow jam “Redbone,” but the drum programming recalls the stuff Prince did with the LinnDrum and the vocal performances feel inspired by cloud rap, a sensibility teased out in a cocky, carefree verse by Fousheé . “Say Something” strikes gold coolly poking around the pillowy synth pads and echoing drums of ’80s pop in the same way recent albums from the Weeknd picked up where Daft Punk left off in marrying dueling interests in 20th- and 21st-century popular music. “Pretty” and “Say Something” keep things relatively simple, stacking a few complementary ideas on top of each other and allowing space to breathe. (Other producers might abuse the clav hits in the latter for the old-school feel they bring, but this group lets them drift in and out of frame, recalling the minimalist trap lullabies on the back end of Lil Boat .) The noisier and less structurally sturdy cuts that surround them feel like the jams a band works through on the way to more refined compositions, before taking them on the road where they grow new layers of sound and significance. Let’s Start Here begs to be untangled in a live setting the way artists drawn to the tactile and communal experience of music tend to, allowed to drift over warm air, playing during the sunny days and reckless nights it describes.

Maybe this album is the new beginning its title implies, a first step toward tighter songcraft on the horizon, and maybe Yachty will pop back up in six to 18 months’ time on some different shit entirely, as is often his tendency. The new record finds him sniffing around the same intersections of pop, rock, psych, and soul as “Bad Habit” or Frank Ocean’s “Pretty Sweet,” sacrificing the brevity of his hits for a purposeful sensory overload, which sometimes works in his favor but sometimes encumbers tracks that ought to seem weightless. It is important for young artists to get the space to grow and change and eat mushrooms and make weird but enthusiastic indie-rock music.

Let’s Start Here fits into a long tradition of pleasant curveballs from rappers, unheralded classics like Q-Tip’s Kamaal the Abstract, side projects like the Beastie Boys and Suicidal Tendencies offshoot BS2000 , imperfect genre excursions like Kid Cudi’s WZRD , and effortless R&B pivots like Tyler, the Creator’s Igor . Yachty is stumbling down well-trod pathways, learning lessons imparted on generation after generation of listeners ever since Pink Floyd’s international breakthrough 50 years ago and taking metaphysical journeys endeavored since humans first discovered fungi and plants that made them see sounds and smell colors. The sharpest songs here could go toe-to-toe with the best in the artist’s back catalog, and the worst ones sound like excitable demos for various guitar pedals. Let’s Start Here isn’t Lil Yachty’s greatest work, but it goes over better than the pitch — “Poland” guy does shrooms and jams on instruments — implied it might. And if shoegaze-adjacent rockers like “I’ve Officially Lost Vision” and sound experiments like the one at the end of “We Saw the Sun” drone-pill even a fraction of the audience, it was all worth it.

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‘Let’s Start Here’ is a reset for Lil Yachty’s sound

Lil Yachty reinvents his sound in “Let’s Start Here,” but his lyrics show that old habits die hard.


Aaliya Luthra

Lil Yachty’s newest psychedelic-rock album features 14 tracks including “the BLACK seminole.” and “The Alchemist.”(Illustration by Aaliya Luthra)

Sandy Battulga , Music Editor Feb 2, 2023

Since the release of hit singles “One Night” and “Minnesota,” Lil Yachty has based his lucrative musical career on mumble rap, a genre often defined by its simple rhymes and prevalence on SoundCloud . Lil Yachty — whose real name is Miles Park McCollum — has maintained that being known as a SoundCloud rapper is not enough for him. 

“I’m not a rapper — I’m an artist,” he said to The New York Times in a 2016 interview . “And I’m more than an artist. I’m a brand.” 

In his new album “Let’s Start Here,” Lil Yachty breaks out of the constraints of SoundCloud mumble rap once and for all. Sound-wise, the album is rooted in psychedelic rock. The first track, “the BLACK seminole.,” has a reverberating bass line that sweeps across the entire song, providing a syrupy tone that coats the rest of the album. Lil Yachty has cited Pink Floyd as a major inspiration for this album. This influence is especially evident in “the BLACK seminole.,” which features a virtuosic guitar solo, fast-paced synthesizer melody and epic vocal aria. 

This album experiments with composition and ambient soundscapes in an intriguing way. The fifth track, “:(failure(:,” showcases cavernous drones and guitar chords, over which Lil Yachty speaks, ruminating on failure and what it’s like to be “rich and famous.” The song was written in part by Alex G and Mac DeMarco, so it has a psychedelic and almost spiritual sound. For every serene moment in “Let’s Start Here,” however, “IVE OFFICIALLY LOST ViSiON!!!!” is a track filled with the chaos to match. The song touches on classical music, glitch music, hard rock and R&B — all within its runtime of just over five minutes. The song ends with an air of calm though, with a minute-long recording of a person walking outside, while a string section plays a meditative composition. “Let’s Start Here” leaves no stone unturned, exhibiting varying levels of intensity and pacing that make the album a feast for the ears.

Although the diversity of sound in the album is exciting and original, its lyrical content doesn’t break away from the mumble rap mold nearly as much as it could. Lil Yachty is known for his music’s refreshingly youthful and goofy perspective, but this lyric construction strategy seems out of place amid the more mature and developed sonic environment he established in “Let’s Start Here.” The album has the beginnings of a more introspective and thoughtful reflection on his life compared to his previous work, but Lil Yachty’s muscle memory of writing simple rhymes that revel in adolescence seems to overtake the full realization of a truly contemplative tone. 

“The Alchemist,” for example, is the second to last track, and it depicts two different characters: one cocky and one vulnerable. Lil Yachty returns to his background in mumble rap, energetically delivering lines like, “No need to brag, but I knew that I was built for this / I know now that most men would kill for this / Seamlessly, I walk around infamous” and “Papa made a young pimp, I’m outside / Southside, tote a shank, I’ma up rank / Lemonade pink seats in a fish tank.” These verses ooze the positivity that Lil Yachty is known for, providing a familiar tone to fans that were originally attracted to the artist because of his easy confidence. In between the rapper’s verses, though, R&B singer Fousheé provides a different attitude, softly singing, “It feels good / Don’t need no harm, this for shits and giggles / My taxes in on time” and “​​Up on my cloud / My feet don’t touch the ground / Don’t try to shoot me down / I’m only a human / It’s my first go ’round in this thing.” She articulates sentiments that Lil Yachty doesn’t usually associate himself with such as sensitivity and domesticity. This song offers listeners insight, if brief, into the Lil Yachty behind the curated brand he has built around himself. 

Most of the songs on the album revolve around a boyish infatuation with women, like in “WE SAW THE SUN!” Once again, the instrumentation is what keeps the listener’s attention. A hypnotic guitar introduces the track, and Lil Yachty’s voice is fragmented into a rhythmic accompaniment. The song ends with a snippet of Bob Ross speaking: “Just let your imagination run wild, let your heart be your guide / In the time you sit around worrying about it and trying to plan a painting, you could’ve completed a painting already.” But the lyrics of this track don’t measure up against the complexities of its composition. Lil Yachty’s verses are juvenile, still reflecting his past projects: “Few more drops up on your tongue / At night, too many that can’t be undone / Head spun, meanwhile, you’re done / Had a little too much fun / I cannot stop touching you / This just took my high to the moon.” 

Despite the lack of development in his lyricism, Lil Yachty has showcased incredible dexterity in shaping this album’s sonic landscape. The last track of “Let’s Start Here” indicates that more complex lyrics may be on the way. “REACH THE SUNSHINE” features Daniel Caesar, who starts the song off with an interpolation of Radiohead’s “Pyramid Song.” “Staring in the mirror and what do I see? / A three-eyed man staring back at me / Two for the flesh and one for the soul / But where did man go? I’m tryna fill that hole,” the song drones. The track ends on the fourth note of the scale instead of the tonic, so it leaves the track — and the album — unresolved. The listener walks away craving more, but thankfully — as the title of this album suggests — this new era of Lil Yachty is just getting started.

Contact Sandy Battulga at [email protected] .

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Sandy is a sophomore double-majoring in comparative literature and social and cultural analysis. When she's not complaining about her love-hate relationship...

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Music Features

Lil yachty's delightfully absurd path to 'let's start here'.

Matthew Ramirez

lil yachty review

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 29: Lil Yachty performs on the Stage during day 2 of Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival 2017 at Exposition Park on October 29, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. Rich Fury/Getty Images hide caption

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 29: Lil Yachty performs on the Stage during day 2 of Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival 2017 at Exposition Park on October 29, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.

Lil Yachty often worked better as an idea than a rapper. The late-decade morass of grifters like Lil Pump, amidst the self-serious reign of Future and Drake (eventual Yachty collaborators, for what it's worth), created a demand for something lighter, someone charismatic, a throwback to a time in the culture when characters like Biz Markie could score a hit or Kool Keith could sustain a career in one hyper-specific lane of rap fandom. Yachty fulfilled the role: His introduction to many was through a comedy skit soundtracked by his viral breakout "1 Night," which tapped into the song's deadpan delivery and was the perfect complement for its sleepy charm. The casual fan knows him best for a pair of collaborations in 2016: as one-half of the zeitgeist-defining single "Broccoli" with oddity D.R.A.M., or "iSpy," a top-five pop hit with backpack rapper Kyle. Yachty embodied the rapper as larger-than-life character — from his candy-colored braids to his winning smile — and while the songs themselves were interesting, you could be forgiven for wondering if there was anything substantial behind the fun, the grounds for the start of a long career.

As if to supplement his résumé, Yachty seemed to emerge as a multimedia star. Perhaps you remember him in a Target commercial; heard him during the credits for the Saved by the Bell reboot; spotted him on a cereal box; saw him co-starring in the ill-fated 2019 sequel to How High . TikTok microcelebrity followed. Then the sentences got more and more absurd: Chef Boyardee jingle with Donny Osmond; nine-minute video cosplaying as Oprah; lead actor in an UNO card game movie. Somewhere in a cross-section of pop-culture detritus and genuine hit-making talent is where Yachty resides. That he didn't fade away immediately is a testament to his charm as a cultural figure; Yachty satisfied a need, and in his refreshingly low-stakes appeal, you could imagine him as an MTV star in an alternate universe. Move the yardstick of cultural cachet from album sales to likes and he emerges as a generation-defining persona, if not musician.

Early success and exposure can threaten anyone's career, none so much as those connected to the precarious phenomenon of SoundCloud rap. Yachty's initial peak perhaps seeded his desire years later to sincerely pursue artistry with Let's Start Here , an album fit for his peculiar trajectory, because throughout the checks from Sprite and scolding Ebro interviews he never stopped releasing music, seemingly to satisfy no one other than himself and the generation of misfits that he seemed to be speaking for.

But to oversell him as a personality belittles his substantial catalog. Early mixtapes like Lil Boat and Summer Songs 2 , which prophetically brought rap tropes and pop sounds into harmony, were sustained by the teenage artist's commitment to selling the vibe of a track as he warbled its memorable hook. It was perhaps his insistence to demonstrate that he could rap, too, that most consistently pockmarked his output during this period. These misses were the necessary growing pains of a kid still finding his footing, and through time and persistence, a perceived weakness became a strength. Where his peers Lil Uzi Vert and Playboi Carti found new ways to express themselves in music, Yachty dug in his heels and became Quality Control's oddball representative, acquitting himself on guest appearances and graduating from punchline rapper to respectable vet culminating in the dense and rewarding Lil Boat 3 from 2020, Yachty's last official album.

Which is why the buzzy, viral "Poland" from the end of 2022 hit different — Yachty tapped back into the same lively tenor of his early breakthroughs. The vibrato was on ten, the beat menaced and hummed like a broken heater, he rapped about taking cough syrup in Poland, it was over in under two minutes and endlessly replayable. Yachty has already lived a full career arc in seven years — from the 2016 king of the teens, to budding superstar, to pitchman, to regional ambassador. But following "Poland" with self-aware attempts at similar virality would be a mistake, and you can't pivot your way to radio stardom after a hit like that, unless you're a marketing genius like Lil Nas X. How does he follow up his improbable second chance to grab the zeitgeist?

Lil Yachty, 'Poland'


Lil yachty, 'poland'.

Let's Start Here is Lil Yachty's reinvention, a born-again Artist's Statement with no rapping. It's billed as psychedelic rock but has a decidedly accessible sound — the sun-kissed warmth of an agreeable Tame Impala song, with bounce-house rhythms and woozy guitars in the mode of Magdalena Bay and Mac DeMarco (both of whom guest on the album) — something that's not quite challenging but satisfying nonetheless. Contrast with 2021's Michigan Boy Boat , where Yachty performed as tour guide through Michigan rap: His presence was auxiliary by function on that tape, as he ceded the floor to Babyface Ray, Sada Baby and Rio Da Yung OG; it was tantalizing curation, if not a work of his own personal artistry. It's tempting to cast Let's Start Here as another act of roleplay, but what holds this album together is Yachty's magnetic pull. Whether or not you're someone who voluntarily listens to the Urban Outfitters-approved slate of artists he's drawing upon, his star presence is what keeps you engaged here.

Yachty has been in the studio recording this album since 2021, and the effort is tangible. He didn't chase "Poland" with more goofy novelties, but he also didn't spit this record out in a month. Opener (and highlight) "The Black Seminole" alternates between Pink Floyd and Jimi Hendrix-lite references. It's definitely a gauntlet thrown even if halfway through you start to wonder where Yachty is. The album's production team mostly consists of Patrick Wemberly (formerly of Chairlift), Jacob Portrait (of Unknown Mortal Orchestra), Jeremiah Raisen (who's produced for Charli XCX, Sky Ferreira and Drake) and Yachty himself, who's established himself as a talented producer since his early days. (MGMT's Ben Goldwasser also contributed.) The group does a formidable job composing music that is dense and layered enough to register as formally unconventional, if not exactly boundary-pushing. Yachty frequently reaches for his "Poland"-inspired uber-vibrato, which adds a bewitching texture to the songs, placing him in the center of the track. Other moments that work: the spoken-word interlude "Failure," thanks to contemplative strumming from Alex G, and "The Ride," a warm slow-burn that coasts on a Jam City beat, giving the album a lustrous Night Slugs moment. "I've Officially Lost Vision" thrashes like Yves Tumor.

Yet the best songs on Let's Start Here push Yachty's knack for hooks and snaking melodies to the fore and rely less on studio fireworks — the laid-back groove of "Running Out of Time," the mournful post-punk of "Should I B?" and the slow burn of "Pretty," which features a bombastic turn from vocalist Foushee. That Yachty's vaunted indie collaborators were able to work in simpatico with him proves his left-of-center bonafides. It's a reminder that he's often lined his projects with successful non-rap songs, curios like "Love Me Forever" from Lil Boat 2 and "Worth It" from Nuthin' 2 Prove . That renders Let's Start Here a less startling turn than it may appear at first glance, and also underlines his recurring talent for making off-kilter pop music, a gift no matter the perceived genre.

At a listening event for the record, Yachty stated: "I created [this] because I really wanted to be taken seriously as an artist. Not just some SoundCloud rapper, not some mumble rapper. Not some guy that just made one hit," seemingly aware of the culture war within his own genre and his place along the spectrum of low- to highbrow. To be sure, whether conscious of it or not, this kind of mentality is dismissive of rap music as an artform, and also undermines the good music Yachty has made in the past. Holing up in the studio to make digestibly "weird" indie-rock with a cast of talented white people isn't intrinsically more artistic or valid than viral hits or a one-off like "Poland." But this statement scans less as self-loathing and more as a renewed confidence, a tribute to the album's collective vision. And people like Joe Budden have been saying "I don't think Yachty is hip-hop " since he started. So what if he wants to break rank now?

Lil Yachty entered the cultural stage at 18, and has grown up in public. It adds up that, now 25, he would internalize all the scrutiny he's received and wish to cement his artistry after a few thankless years rewriting the rules for young, emerging rappers. Let's Start Here may not be the transcendent psychedelic rock album that he seeks, but it is reflective of an era of genreless "vibes" music. Many young listeners likely embraced Yachty and Tame Impala simultaneously; it tracks he would want to bring these sounds together in a genuine attempt to reach a wider audience. Nothing about this album is cynical, but it is opportunistic, a creation in line with both a shameless mixed-media existence and his everchanging pop alchemy. The "genre" tag in streaming metadata means less than it ever has. Credit to Yachty for putting that knowledge to use.

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Lil Yachty Brings the Hits, and His Psychedelic Rock Adventure, to Central Park: Concert Review

By Jordan Moreau

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Lil Yachty

Lil Yachty ‘s latest album, “Let’s Start Here,” did just that: It gave the rapper’s career a new starting point by setting aside his hip-hop origins and rebooting into psychedelic rock. Yachty 2.0 stopped by Central Park’s SummerStage and showed off his new sound, while also giving original fans a healthy dose of his classic bangers.

He started last year with “Poland,” a simple, yet massively viral rap hit that put him back on everybody’s radar. With his new album, though, Yachty defied expectations and released a completely non -rap record that had more in common with the classic psychedelia of Pink Floyd and Funkadelic (or more recent iterations like Tame Impala) than anything in his previous discography.

The new chapter of Yachty had begun with this surreal, spacey production, and fans flooded into New York’s Central Park on Friday night to see it for themselves. Yachty’s band and singers appeared on stage first, all dressed in white, while trippy, dream-like visuals projected onto a huge screen behind them. The funky tunes of “drive ME crazy!” opened the show, with Yachty gliding in singing the soft vocals of “the ride” and “pRETTy.”

The typical 808s and bass of a normal rap concert wouldn’t be heard for a few more songs, as the band played an electric guitar-assisted rendition of Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight” before Yachty transitioned into the hip-hop portion of the night. It was as if the concert was divided into Act I and II, and finally the old Yachty came out to play some of his bangers. After the indie rock start, fans opened up the crowd to mosh along with “Yacht Club,” “Flex Up” and “Coffin.” Strobe lights and lasers illuminated the stage as Yachty jumped around screaming his lyrics as his braids and beads danced wildly in the air.

After the release of “Let’s Start Here,” Yachty got a shoutout from Questlove for “pushing the envelope” and being an example of “music’s future,” beyond just the rap genre. Whatever may come next, (he’s supposedly developing an action movie based on Uno — yes, the card game ) fans will want to keep an eye on where Yachty sails to next.

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AI Reviewed a Record — We Had Some Notes

By Jon Dolan

Here at Rolling Stone, we’re always looking for new music reviewers, young hot shots fresh off the street who are ready to blow us away with their innovative style and fresh insights. We also have a soft spot for terrible ideas. So we figured hiring a supersmart robot to write record reviews was a no-brainer. We asked Bing’s chatbot to write a “ Rolling Stone review of Lil Yachty ’s album Let’s Start Here. ” We used Bing because it has access to the current web, whereas ChatGPT does not. We wanted Bing to feel at home, and since Let’s Start Here has an AI-generated cover, we felt it was a nice fit. Below is Bing’s draft with our edit notes. It should go without saying that onboarding any new hire is never a seamless process, and judging by Bing’s copy, it doesn’t look like our human writers need to get any more existentially freaked out about their place in the world than they already are. 

Lil Yachty, Let’s Start Here

RS Editor: OK, here’s a classic rookie mistake. We call it “assuming too much knowledge.” Phrases like “viral pop” and “Detroit rap” could use some explanation. The ideal RS reader is a music fan with an interest in all genres, but not someone who’s up on every bit of new jargon. Take a step back and explain these terms. Also, these terms seem pretty vague and kind of incoherent, like they were coughed up somewhat at random with some last-minute Googling. It feels frantic and insecure, but also kind of empty, like you’re trying to prove how up-to-date you are without totally knowing what you’re talking about.

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Sorry, but that’s a bit of a cliché pile-up — ”sonic journey that defies expectations and genres” is a phrase that could apply to literally thousands of albums. Every phrase you use should be specific to THIS album. That shouldn’t be hard with Let’s Start Here. But before we even get to that, we need to be more expansive about what his music has been like in the past. It’s good to set the stakes for this release by exploring his previous work more fully.

It’s a bold statement of intent, a declaration of creative freedom and ambition. Yachty collaborates with an eclectic array of musicians, from indie-rockers MGMT and Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker to R&B singers Fousheé and Diana Gordon to jazz legend Herbie Hancock. He also enlists producers Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson and Patrick Wimberly, who help craft the album’s rich and diverse soundscapes.

The album opens with “the BLACK seminole.,” a sprawling epic that references the history of Afro-Seminole people in Florida and features a guitar solo by Parker. It sets the tone for the rest of the album, which explores themes of identity, self-discovery, and transformation. 

And a lot more! For me, the synthetic, distractedly trippy tone of the music mixed with Yachty’s horndog-Cylon singing seems to circle around the idea of trying to make sense of your desires and emotions in a technologically mediated era. There’s freedom in this music, but it’s tinged with a certain amount of dread. That’s just one possible way in. You might choose another. But I’d generally like to see you go deeper. Despite the LP’s intentionally tossed-off feel, Yachty is dealing with some pretty serious stuff here. For instance, the album cover was generated by AI and shows a kind of demented board of directors. I feel like you’d be uniquely qualified to explore that image. And yet you don’t mention the LP cover at all. It’s weird, almost like you’re avoiding the issue. It’s creepy.

Yachty sings more than he raps, often using his voice as an instrument to convey emotion and melody. He experiments with different styles and influences, from the funk-infused “running out of time” to the synth-pop anthem “sAy sOMETHINg” to the prog-rock finale “REACH THE SUNSHINE.”

That’s pretty flat and far too general. Let’s go deeper!

Let’s Start Here is not an album for everyone.

We don’t indulge in this kind of marketing conjecture in our reviews — it’s not our job to say who will like this record, it’s our job to engagingly explain what we think of it and why.

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OK, Bing. Look, I know all my notes here will be a lot to process. I don’t want you to feel discouraged. And I do want to thank you for filing such clean copy so fast. It’s really great to be able to assign a review at 8:30:21 a.m. and have it back in at 8:30:28 a.m. This is solid work, especially for a first assignment. That said, we definitely have a lot to do to get this piece where it needs to be. You seem to have a general sense of the basics of what a review should be. The piece has a generally authoritative tone. But as my notes above suggest, I do feel like the review could go a little deeper. For instance, in the RS review of Yachty’s 2017 album, Teenage Emotions , our human critic Christopher R. Weingarten cleverly argued that the music had the “giddy, childlike, organic, occasionally broken feel of Eighties twee-centric bands like Beat Happening, Television Personalities, and Half Japanese.” Kind of makes you want to hear Yachty, and check out Half Japanese too, right? (BTW, are you a fan? 1/2 Gentlemen/Not Beasts is a total classic in my book.)

In any case, I’m sure we can get this done and come up with a great review! Right now, it’s 9:02:34 a.m. Can you get me a revise by 9:02:42? Thanks. 

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By Sheldon Pearce


March 17, 2016

Atlanta’s Lil Yachty is a pure creation of the Internet. His cult hit "1 Night" found most of its audience through a viral sketch comedy video , and before that, he was being plugged on Twitter  by Ian Connor, a stylist and web curator known mostly for his connection to  A$AP Rocky . He’s indebted to Lil B , too, with free-form verses that mimic Based Freestyles and a carefree energy reminiscent of the Based God’s Myspace days. In short, Yachty thrives in Rocky’s post-regionalist rap universe, a space defined by digital platforms rather than geography. One of his producers goes by Digital Nas. He is definitive proof that modern rap has no gatekeepers, and Soundcloud rap’s laziest possible copy-and-paste job.

There isn’t a single thing Lil Yachty’s doing that someone else isn't doing better, and in richer details. On  Lil Boat , his debut mixtape, he makes a grating mess of these varying influences. The most obvious creative inspiration is iLoveMakonnen , which becomes especially clear on "Good Day," with its creaky falsetto and warbling melody. But Makonnen brings warmth and a feeling of ease to his tracks, while Yachty is constantly straining, as if just getting the words out of his mouth is a struggle. His rapping is jerky and his voice is so flat that Auto-Tune itself seems to buckle under the weight.

Yachty’s main selling point is "fun." This is all supposed to seem easy and unbothered, and it does on cheery tunes like “Wanna Be Us” and “Run/Running.” But everything feels unfinished or undercooked—a handful of songs are just a single verse and a hook, with no clear relationship between the two. So a song like "Not My Bro" opens with a bang and then shrinks back into nothing, a series of pitchy, singsongy whines. It's a lot of things —irritating, boring —but "fun" isn't one of them.

Yachty’s simplicity works in his favor when it comes to catchy hooks. On the better songs here, he sings/raps over bubbly, retro N64-sounding productions (mostly produced by Burberry Perry) that convey childlike wonder and amusement. But the hooks don’t do nearly enough to balance out Yachty’s painful shrieks, and many of his ideas aren’t just basic, they’re sloppily executed. Attempting to form a working model out of the flotsam of the moment is a fool’s errand. But what else is to be expected of a prisoner of shifting tides?

Let’s Start Here.

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Mr Beat the Road


Drake Co-Signed Nemzzz Drops New Track 'It's US' With Lil Yachty

Breaking new ground, the mixtape is available in physical format on CD and cassette, a first for the Manchester artist.


UK rapper Nemzzz has dropped his highly-anticipated debut mixtape, DO NOT DISTURB, (Deluxe) today.

This 11-track tape marks Nemzzz's most extensive release to date, delving into his upbringing and newfound fame. Breaking new ground, the mixtape is available in physical format on CD and cassette, a first for the Manchester artist. Nemzzz has gotten co-signs from Drake, Central Cee, iShowSpeed, and other US-based entertainers. 

The single "It's Us" featuring rapper Lil Yachty, a standout from the deluxe offering, has also been released, offering a short but punchy track with cool 808s and keys. Nemzzz and Yachty trade verses, showcasing their great sonic chemistry and marking a return to form for Yachty. Yachty has voiced his support for Nemzzz, a particularly strong co-sign as Yachty has aligned himself with other rising talent such as Teezo Touchdown and LORENZ.OG . 

Opening with the late-night confession "REFLECTION," Nemzzz delivers biting rhymes about the pitfalls of social media activism. The new single " ETA" features a collaboration with German rap heavyweight Luciano, with the duo trading bars over a siren-like beat and a video shot in Frankfurt during Nemzzz's appearance at Luciano's stadium show.

Recent single "PTSD," produced by frequent collaborator Zel, showcases a haunting vocal flip and a laid-back production, earning a co-sign from Central Cee. "L'S," a shimmering, jazz-inflected track, received acclaim from The Observer, Fader, CRACK, and NME, garnering spins across BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra.

Atmospheric cuts like "DOOM" and playful love song "STAR SIGN" add depth to the mixtape, while tracks like "NEED YOU" explore the ups and downs of toxic relationships. "DND," the title track, details the challenges Nemzzz faced leading up to the project's release. Rounding out the tape is "MONEY AND VIBES," where Nemzzz brings a UK flavor to a flip of Justin Timberlake's "Rock Your Body."

Nemzzz, shaped by his tough upbringing in Gorton, uses his music to reflect on experiences such as heartbreak, fake friends, financial literacy, finding one's path, and managing mental health amid social media addiction. The rapper, an old head on young shoulders, offers relatability in a unique way, helping his young fans navigate growing pains.

Following a successful 2023, which included his debut EP "Nemzzz Type Beat" and hit singles like "Therapy" and "8AM IN MANNY," Nemzzz is gearing up for his second headline tour this Spring across the UK and Ireland. With sold-out dates already and performances at major festivals, including Glastonbury and Ibiza Rocks, Nemzzz continues to make waves in the rap scene.

Since bursting onto the scene at 14, Nemzzz has steadily built buzz with over 180M combined streams in 2023, 9 Million TikTok views, and recognition from BBC Radio 1xtra, Amazon Music x Hunger Magazine, No Signal Class of '23, MOBO Awards 2022 Best Newcomer Nominee, and accolades from Pitchfork, The Face, DAZED, The Guardian, HYPEBEAST, CLASH, Complex UK, and NME. Nemzzz is undeniably making serious moves in the industry.

Nemzzz will be heading out on his second headline tour this Spring with dates across the UK and Ireland. He will be kicking off in Dublin on April 30th, and culminating in a homecoming show on May 7th in Manchester. With two dates already sold out - the tour is set to be another huge smash for the young star. TICKETS/MORE INFO.

30th April Dublin, Green Room Academy *SOLD OUT

3rd May Glasgow, Warehouse SWG3 *SOLD OUT

5th May London, Omeara *SOLD OUT

7th May Manchester, Club Academy

About Nemzzz:

Nemzzz is one of the most exciting breakout rap talents of recent years. An old head on young shoulders, Nemzzz is relatable in a different way than a lot of his rap peers; driven less by punchlines about Birkin bags and more by the challenge of helping his young fans navigate their way through growing pains.

The rapper is shaped by his tough upbringing in Gorton, using his music to reflect on his experiences in Manchester and his mental health struggles. Since bursting onto the scene at the tender age of 14, he has relentlessly chipped away at his craft – building steady buzz amongst the industry, media and fans alike.

With over 180M combined streams in 2023, 9 Million TikTok views, tips including BBC Radio 1xtra's Hot For 2023, Amazon Music x Hunger Magazine Ones To Watch, No Signal Class of '23, Best Newcomer Nominee MOBO Awards 2022, plaudits from Pitchfork, The Face, DAZED, The Guardian, HYPEBEAST, CLASH, Complex UK and NME - Nemzzz is making serious moves.

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