With his iconic red braids, signature unorthodox voice and goofy internet persona, Lil Yachty has never had trouble being impressionable. His music always favored the eccentric use of his voice and autotune with catchy hooks that are often used in internet memes: impressionable, but not sustaining any depth. With the recent unexpected release of his fifth studio album Let’s Start Here, 25 year old Yachty is impressive, expansive, and willing to take risks as an artist to prove that his potential was severely underestimated. The album features heaps of collaborations from artists and producers, including Alex G, Mac DeMarco, Ben Goldwasser of MGMT, Magdalena Bay, Patrick Wimberly (MGMT, Joji), Jacob Portrait (Unknown Mortal Orchestra), Justin Raisen (Yves Tumor, Angel Olson), and more.
Back in 2015, Miles Parks McCollum, known professionally as Lil Yachty, broke onto the rap scene with his popular songs “Minnesota” and “One Night”. Amassing attention through Soundcloud streams and internet culture, he debuted as a model for Kanye West’s Yeezy season 3 in February of 2016 at Madison Square Garden. His first mixtape, Lil Boat, dropped just a month later. A few Sprite sponsorships, collaborations with Lyrical Lemonade, movie appearances, and a couple album drops later, Yachty cemented himself as a well-known icon in rap and pop culture.
In October 2021, Yachty took an unexpected departure, collaborating with producer and multi-instrumentalist Kevin Parker of Tame Impala for a remix of Parker’s “Breathe Deeper”. Fans were pleased to hear of this unlikely pairing, and were even treated to a new music video featuring the two. Yachty’s unique flow and style, combined with Parker’s lush synths and washed out instrumentation created a unique blend that was unfamiliar to many. It now leaves both fan bases wondering–was this the pairing that led to the approach behind Let’s Start Here?
From the start, the album announces his departure from what is known about him. “The BLACK seminole” is a nearly 7-minute journey featuring a fiery guitar solo to split the song between beat changes. The word ‘Seminole’ derives from the Florida Native Americans, originally meaning ‘wild people, runaways’. With many rhythmic changes and builds, it serves as a captivating introduction to the body of work and the ride that lies ahead.
Speaking of ‘rides’, the cleverly-named second track “the ride-” guides listeners deeper into the album. The song features up-and-coming Texas rapper Teezo Touchdown, who is also known for haing an alternative approach to the rap genre.The track features unique orchestrations of streaking synths and echoed vocals paired with a great drum track that brings everything together. The fifth track “:(failure(:” acts as a brief interlude, featuring Yachty speaking directly to listeners about his experience with the meaning of failure, as he opens up about his changes in life after gaining fame and success. This album effortlessly soars on other tracks like “WE SAW THE SUN!”, “sAy sOMETHINg”, and “sHouLd i B?”, while provoking deep emotions on “REACH THE SUNSHINE”. Other vibey low-tempo highlights include “drive ME crazy!” for easier listening.
As the name suggests, Let’s Start Here is just the beginning. This expansion of Lil Yachty seems unexpected to some, but welcomed by many upon hearing this new collection of sounds. The first mention of the album’s existence dates back to a tweet from May 2, 2022, quoting:
“I try not to tweet cus I know y’all want album… I’ll come back with that.. best one yet promise.”
Thematically sharing a lot in common with Kid Cudi’s 2009 breakout album The Man on the Moon: The End of Day, Yachty extends his artistry by exploring human emotions of longing, expectations, and desire for success and purpose. The instrumentation derives elements from psychedelic-pop/synth-pop, and while hearing Yachty’s distinct voice over these lush melodies may seem awkward at first, a full listen will reveal his genuine effort in crafting these 14 songs into something truly unique.