And now back to our regularly scheduled presentation on Radio Friendly.
Over the past week I’ve been listening to Lil Yachty’s debut album, Lil Boat. A few people have asked me to write about this one, and I assume it’s because I’ve been pro-Yachty for a while even though I’m not the biggest fan of trap music. All his beats sound the same, I can’t stand auto-tuned vocals at the best of times, and his lyrics are funnier than a James Corden monologue. And that’s not a good thing. I’m not a mathematician, but all of this should add up to me not liking Lil Yachty. But I do, and it puzzles me more than blokes wearing caps in a club.
Lil Yachty, or Miles Parks McCollum as his mum calls him, is a product of this generation; the generation of Twitter, expensive sneakers and calling bling ‘ice’. He’s a product of hype, excess, social media and image. Social media is the reason why his career boomed, and many trap stars share a similar origin. He was a model for Kanye’s Yeezy fashion line after growing his Instagram followers through networking with street fashion personalities and dropped his debut album Lil Boat only weeks after. It’s an excessive lifestyle for someone who, at the time, was only nineteen. Yet Lil Boat doesn’t portray the hyped lifestyle that you’d expect from a trap album. Well, not that much. Instead it showcases a personality in a simple, but creative manner.
The album opens with Intro, named appropriately, as it serves as an introduction to the album as well as Yachty and his split personality, Lil Boat. Paired against the childish, almost Rugrats inspired keys, an opening monologue introduces both Lil Yachty and Lil Boat, the latter begins to rap over the rattling high-hats that we’ve come to expect from every single trap song. Lil Boat has a mumbled rap tone to his verses; it’s almost amateurish but works in his favour and adds to his charm. Lil Yachty then takes over the song, the tone shifts from the aggressive trap beat and transitions into a slower key melody with the occasional deep bass kick pumping through. Yachty begins to sing in his auto-tuned voice. Originally when I listened to Yachty’s music I’d cringe, but the charm of Yachty is also in the auto-tuned voice. He’s using it for effect and it compliments the innocent, child like tone of his music. When other trap artists use it, for instance Migos, it’s there to differentiate the different voices of the group. Or when Kanye uses it, it’s because he can’t sing. But Yachty’s use of auto-tune, though controversial in hip hop at the time, adds to the aesthetic he’s created. And that I can appreciate, even if it does make me wince from time to time.
Wanna Be Like Us follows and it’s your standard trap song. The highlight of the song is Yachty’s high-pitched, auto-tuned adlibs. The song doesn’t rely on much of a backing instruments aside from the bass and hi-hats but it does have these high pitched synth notes that come in on the beat and sound like that annoying side kick Link has in Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. A nerdy reference, but that’s what Yachty is going for I reckon.
Minnesota, featuring Quavo, Skippa Da Flippa and Young Thug, follows, all names I needed to look up to be honest. Fun fact, Quavo is in Migos. It’s the kind of song to play to people who already don’t like Yachty and you just want to piss them off. It features the same piano note playing a simple rhythm repeatedly as Yachty spits “You need to stay up out them streets if you can’t take the heat.” The piano melody changes to play exactly the same melody for the chorus, which repeats “‘Cause it get cold like Minnesota, cold like Minnesota, cold like Minnesota, cold like Minnesota.” And there you go, I’ve explained the entirety of the song. Yet it’s so fucking catchy it’ll be stuck in your head for the day. It’s a shit song, it really is, but it’s so god damn catchy that you start to question, is it really that bad? And that’s Yachty in a nutshell.
Interlude hits half way through the track list, another catchy trap tune that showcases Yachty’s mumble approach to his verses. It’s an interlude, as the name suggests, so it’s only just over a minute long, but it really feels as if it was a half-baked song that someone couldn’t be fucked finishing, so they made it an interlude track. It should be longer.
Up Next 2 is one of my favourite tracks on the album. It has a sweet synth melody on the intro as Yachty rattles on about some shit I can’t understand. He mumbles a lot. I feel as if I need to use the trap lingo if I really want to get my point across about Up Next 2, and I want to refrain from using the word banger. But god damn, this is a fucking banger. Lil Yachty’s verse is straight fire. Just look:
“Boat boy just copped him some diamonds
She gon’ suck my dick cause she like how I’m rhyming
It’s all about timing
Got 22 bitches on standby they fuck when I say so
Can’t talk ’til my case close
I’m hot like a pepper, don’t ash in my whip
Bitch, it’s basketball leather
Which nigga you rather it better be me
Maison Margiela just for my black tee
Can’t fuck with these niggas and all they rap beef
Got a Tec for a hundred, I’m feeling like money
My mouth looking sunny
These niggas look funny, so I keep the chop
I’m new and these niggas hopin’ that I flop
I’mma flop in that pussy
It better be gushy, it better be hairless
Me and K Preme beat your ass with our bare fist
When I get on I’mma fuck me a Heirness”
It’s no Kendrick, but it’s probably Yachty’s best verse on the entire album.
I can’t talk about this album without mentioning One Night. It was in my top 5 most listened songs of 2017 and I dabbed to it on my mate’s shoulders at Yachty’s set at Splendour last year. Just saying that took some guts. It’s the song that put Yachty on the map and perfectly showcases what Yachty is all about. It has a cute synth melody that carries through the song as Yachty mumbles his hook, “I know you want this for life. Taking pictures with all my ice. But I can’t have no wife. I just want you for the night.” It makes no sense, logically, but it’s catchy as hell. Yachty’s autotuned vocals drift in and out behind the verses adding to the childlike charm. It’s a laidback banger and still makes me groove.
I’m Sorry and We Did it close the album. They aren’t standout tracks to be honest. I’m Sorry has a darker flare to it that doesn’t quite fit the aesthetic of the album and it transitions to We Did It which sounds like I’m trapped in a Super Mario fever dream. Or as Yachty calls it, ‘bubble-gum trap.’
This album deserved attention, Yachty broke through the norm of the genre with something abstract and fun and it’s well produced considering most trap artists these days start with shit recordings on Soundcloud ala XXXTentacion.
Lil Yachty has charm, the main factor that sets him apart from his peers. In a genre filled with copy cats and the same god damn back beat, Yachty was able to flip that on its head. Not the beat though, that shit stays the same. It’s almost as if he takes the piss out of the genre with his happy-go-lucky melodies and heavy reliance on auto-tune. But I don’t think that’s his motive. Lil Boat is an album for all those kids who grew up watching Rugrats and playing Nintendo, who still hold a little bit of childlike whimsy in their heart as adults. I’m not saying I have childlike whimsy, but I did watch a lot of Rugrats as a kid.
Lil Boat was worth the hype.
Teenage Emotions on the other hand, not so much.
After the Hype is a weekly series where I listen to an album after the hype dies down and give my general thoughts, sometimes a little whinge. It’s ok to disagree.