By Quinn Beekman
Hip hop fans received a pleasant surprise in January with the release of Lil Yachty’s new album, Let’s Start Here. This album marks three years since the rapper’s last project Lil Boat 3, which received mixed reviews from fans and critics. While previous Lil Yachty projects involve trap instrumentals and optimistic, auto-tune heavy vocals, fans were shocked to discover Lil Yachty exploring an entirely new sound: psychedelic rock.
The album begins with “the BLACK seminole.”, a track with unmistakable sonic inspiration from Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, with an opening groove like that of Breathe (In the Air), a screeching guitar solo reminiscent of “Time”, before going into a dramatic vocal solo referencing “The Great Gig in the Sky”. While it may seem like Yachty might be showing his influences a little too much, Yachty’s track doesn’t sound unoriginal or like a copy at all. And keep in mind, this is only the opening track we’re talking about, the first song.
The album follows its hard-hitting first track with more highlights like the bouncy bass groove of “running out of time”, the tight drumming and uplifting vocals and strings section on “drive ME crazy!”, and one of Yachty’s best vocal performances to date on “sAy sOMETHINg”. In the album’s 57 minute runtime, Yachty really takes himself seriously as an artist and a songwriter, as he shared in his album’s listening event in New Jersey on January 26th (my guy Tamir Stein was lucky enough to go to, in the video Yachty calls him out in the audience for having his flash on).
“This album is so special and dear to me. I think I created it just because I really wanted to be taken seriously as an artist, you know? Not just some SoundCloud rapper, not just some mumble rapper, not just some guy that just made one hit, you know? I really wanted to be taken seriously because music is everything to me, said Yachty at the listening event.
In addition to the new sound is an eerie new album cover, a photo of men and women around a table wearing business suits, their distorted faces seemingly cackling at the viewer. AI art has been a topic of debate online since the release of text-to-image algorithms like DALL-E and StableDiffusion last year. The intent behind using AI for the album cover is up for interpretation, with some fans joking that Yachty didn’t have the budget for a cover artist given the large amount spent on production.
Let’s Start Here isn’t a perfect album, there are slow moments and some ideas sometimes feel a bit tired, but overall this is a great album and a very refreshing release from an artist like Lil Yachty.
Final Rating of Lil Yachty – Let’s Start Here. = 7/10