Lil Yachty breaks his mold: same artist, new sound

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At the end of last month, Lil Yachty, a rapper not known for his creative endeavours but rather for consecutively producing one or two hits from each of his albums, released what has been titled one of the wildest musical left turns in recent years. 

The Atlanta rapper’s last previous albums were all mildly to poorly received, with the musical outlet Pitchfork remarking that “he is incapable of fitting his outsized personality into his pedestrian bars,” in his 2018 album Lil Boat 2. Since that album’s release, he’s released three more projects (and a deluxe album) which all mixed trap with cloud rap, producing nothing remarkable or worthy of conversation.  

His last project, the 2021 mixtape Michigan Boy Boat, sold just under 16K units in its first week (including only 218 physical copies), 48K units less than his 2018 release Lil Boat 2(despite featuring 7 more artists). It appeared that Lil Yachty’s popularity was on a decline, but that all changed whenhe released his single Poland in October of 2022, reaching five million plays in the first week. GQ labelled this single as “his weirdest song to date.” 

After Poland’s success, Yachty dropped his latest album, Let’s Start Here, last month. This sparked a wide debate and a newfound appreciation of the artist. Yachty claimed on Twitter that the album only took him six months to make, but he “sat on it for a year and a half almost.” The new style and vast turn from Lil Yachty’s past sound have created the biggest conversation around the album.  

Rather than following in the steps of his past albums and continuing to make the same cloud-rap songs that led to his decrease in popularity, Let’s Start Here mixes psychedelic rock with funk, taking an evident influence from artists like Pink Floyd and Tame Impala. The album steps out of the hip-hop genre by sampling songs such as Pink Floyd’s eleven-minute track Pigs (Three Different Ones)from their album Animals, to partially covering Radiohead’s Pyramid Song on the final track titled REACH THE SUNSHINE. 

Yachty’s use of synths, psychedelic vocals and experimentation pay offmaking Let’s Start Here not only one of the most potent examples of an artist completely changing their style, but also a complete success in branding him as a respectable artist, rather than a SoundCloud rapper flailing for popularity. Let’s Start Here will likely be remarked as one of the greatest albums of 2023, despite it being released in January. 

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