(Photo courtesy of Variety) Lil Yachty’s sonic shift marks a potential new era for the musician’s career.
In his first release since the viral “Poland,” rapper Lil Yachty dropped an ethereal and funky album, redefining himself. On January 27th, Yachty released his fifth studio album, “Let’s Start Here.” This album represents a massive shift in Lil Yachty’s sound, moving from trap to a psychedelic-rock and pop sound.
Back in December, the album was leaked to the internet under the name “Sonic Ranch,” with Yachty confirming on Twitter that the leaks were real. Fortunately, many fans online resisted the urge to listen to the leaked audio. Yachty tweaked it slightly and continued with the release schedule. He dropped the cover art shortly before the release; going with a controversial choice of AI art. AI art is infamous for its low quality and grotesque distortions, but Yachty seemingly leans into this for the cover. The distorted faces emphasize the album’s psychedelic themes. He released a promotional short-film where he enters the titular “The Department of Mental Tranquility;” the surreal video sets the tone for the album.
The production of this album is by far the best part. Yachty’s first delve into alternative music was undoubtedly a success. The album displays a variety of contemporary influences, from Tame Impala’s smooth synth sound to The Weekend’s poppy rhythm while still utilizing his signature auto-tune. It has a few scattered motifs that compliment songs well. The electric guitar solos transport listeners to the world that Yachty has created, like in the opening track “the BLACK Seminole.” Female vocals are also heavily featured, like in the track “drive ME crazy” where the uncredited woman arguably carries the song with her soothing intro.
The production being good is no surprise. Various renowned artists are scattered throughout the album, only listed in the song credits. Collaborators include, Magdalena Bay, Fousheé, Mac Demarco, Alex G, Teezo Touchdown, Daniel Caesar and more. Caesar is the unnamed voice on the closing track “REACH THE SUNSHINE” where he interpolates Radiohead’s “Pyramid Song.” The seamless transitions between songs make it feel like a cohesive experience, like in “THE zone~” to “WE SAW THE SUN!” The end of the album also leads into the beginning, with an experimental electronic transition, reminiscent of Flume, that emphasizes Yachty’s attention to detail.
The album suffers in its lyricism. Yachty, known for complex and comedic bangers, disappointed. The lines were sometimes corny or confusing and left something to be desired. Like in “IVE OFFICIALLY LOST ViSiON!!!!” where he sings “Know you miss the thought of you and me / Keeping up with all the Jones’, I can / Some are different, I keep ice in my hand / And I’m spinnin’ like a modern home ceiling fan.” At times, lyrics were mostly the same line repeated over and over, like in “the ride-.” The delivery was not the best either. In many of the songs, the flow stays constant, never switching up except for a feature. The cadence compliments some songs but drags others down.
Overall, the album was a pleasant surprise from Yachty where he showed the world his creative range. The unique yet inspired project utilized psychedelic and pop to deliver fun yet reflective tracks. The lyricism was simple and repetitive at times, which fit some songs but hurt others. All the collaborations fit seamlessly into his vision, giving audiences a cohesive experience to enjoy.