At last months Yeezy Season 3 launch it seemed anyone who was anybody was in attendance, whether it was Kanye’s G.O.O.D music team mobbing around a singular laptop or likes of Young Thug and Ian Connor who accompanied each other on the podium.
Yet as the synths of ‘Father Stretch My Hands pt.1’ build and the infamous Metro line comes blasting out round Madison Square Garden, a solum figure stands in the centre of the frame. Staring past the gaze of the thousands in attendance he is dressed in an oversized jumper which is the same striking shade as the red braids that cover his hair. His arms are slung by his side and his head hangs low, a sense of flippancy surrounds his posture yet he comes across as calm and collected. He only moves to fidget when his clothes seem to cause him annoyance, before returning to his unwavering stance.
Unfazed by the commotion that surrounds him, whether this be the horde of the Kardashian family in attendance or the thousands streaming online, we find Lil Yachty in a world of his own unwilling to pull back the curtain, and we can’t help but want to gain a peak behind it. On the opening track of his debut mixtape ‘Lil Boat’ he chooses to kick it off with a sample from ‘Finding Nemo’. Jarring yet nostalgic, out of tune but consoling, throughout the tape Lil Yachty pushes the boat further and further out to weird and wonderful places and we quickly learn that we should all jump aboard.
Haling from the Atlanta, Lil Yachty is a product of his surroundings and his peers. Eccentric and unwilling to ever be distilled into a commodity to be bought and sold, if you enter the world of ‘Lil Boat‘ its on his own terms. A bold move from a rapper at just the age of eighteen, as the first listen of ‘Lil Boat’ serves as a make or break. After a Finding Nemo sample Lil Yachty introduces two characters. The first being Lil Boat who boasts “Came up overnight from one song , One night get her out the thong, Old heads hating on Boat cause I young as fuck and I rich as hell.” The second being Lil Yachty who harmonies over softer synths, auto tuned and out of tune he screeches at the listener “Hello.”
For a first introduction its quite a startling one, but one that you will soon learn whether you love or hate. Much like ilovemakonen we find Lil Yachty half singing, half rapping with a similar boldness. Singing with a falsetto that is initially unsettling, it won’t take long before Lil Yachty becomes an oddly soothing voice on your shoulder. On his breakout single ‘1Night’ Lil Yachty is telling his girl that she will never be his wife, “I just want for the night”, a night that you soon too realise you never want to end.
Lil Yachty’s sound and style is certainly indebted to the likes of Chief Keef and Young Thug. But whilst his predecessors lean more towards the sound of the turn up anthem, we find Yachty in an abstract place, in which he can never be labelled or pinned down. His music is native to that of the internet age and has drawn the attention of the blogs and trendy kids, yet his origins are rooted in that of Atlanta and the trap lifestyle.
On the ‘Minnesota Remix’ he calls on the services of Quavo, Skippa Da Flippa and Young Thug. Yachty sends out the first warning shot “Need to stay up out them streets if you can’t take the heat, You need to stay up out them streets if you can’t take the heat.” Joined by a trio which form the face of the current Atlanta scene, Lil Yachty has proved he’s paved his own way to earn a seat at the throne of the south. At moments you can find Yachty rapping “Fuck with my gang you gon’ get slayed, And I promise everything on me is good”, yet what makes Lil Yachty stand out is that he’s rapping over a bare sample of the Super Mario 64 theme tune accompanied only by 808s. Creating with the fearlessness and purity of a teenager who knows no boundaries, Lil Yachty is finding his own voice in places most would look to last.
On the artwork of his debut release Lil Yachty stands alone on a boat surrounded by nothing but water and a cloud of midst seemingly lost at sea, but it becomes apparent he isn’t lost but merely exploring. At one point Lil Yachty could be labelled the misfit, he is now the tastemaker. It may seem slightly frightening to put all your trust into a teenager who raps over the Rugrats theme tune with no ironic attentions, yet after one listen you learn not to question but rather (….).
On the fittingly named final track ‘We Did it (Outro)’ *Positivity Song* Yachty preaches “So for everyone talking down, Anybody who makes you frown, Let them know that’s its possible, Oh its possible.” This could equally serve as the catchline of a children’s tv show yet for Lil Yachty its a mantra he lives by, and one we hope we will continue to stand by as he steps out of his cartoon world.