Let me set the scene. It’s an early Friday morning and I am running low on sleep. On my walk to school, I remember that Lil Yachty, SoundCloud legend and an old favorite of mine, has just dropped a new album. I had been looking forward to it and heard whispers about rock influences. After getting past the horrifying, AI-created album cover, I experienced a truly incredible album. BOOM—psychedelic-rock influence. BOOM—next-level production. BOOM—Teezo Touchdown, Fousheé, Diana Gordon, Justine Sky, and Daniel Ceasar features (all complementing Yachty with fantastic vocals). Let’s Start Here. shocked me in a good way (and woke me up on a slow morning). It opened my eyes and got me excited about the future of hip-hop. Yachty brings it all on his new album: crazy transitions, a great tracklist, and conceptual depth.
It’s funny hearing his auto-tuned vocals in psychedelic rock, but Yachty finds a way to push the boundaries of genre and create a cool and cohesive sound. We had heard tastes of it before, like on Tame Impala’s Currents b-side remix of “Breathe Deeper,” but I was far more impressed by his sound here. Yachty obviously sought to be more than his SoundCloud/mumble rap image from the past and cement himself as a true, impactful artist, capable of changing modern music. I believe he executed it perfectly.
The first song, “the BLACK seminole.” throws you right into Yachty’s new sound. Produced by Justin Raisen (who is known for his work with experimentalists Yves Tumor and Joji), the nearly seven-minute song introduces Yachty’s new sound with synth swells and laid-back rock instrumentals. When his vocals hit, it feels as if you were sent back 50 years to a Pink Floyd show. With its length, this song gives listeners a perfect opportunity to understand Yachty’s vision, allowing them to better process the rest of the album.
It’s followed by “the ride-,” assisted by the talented Teezo Touchdown. This track is where I thought Lil Yachty’s autotune-flushed vocals shined the most. Paired with the song’s ambiance and electronic melody, it feels as if this was the true purpose of his vocals.
After the groovy “running out of time”, we reach “pRETTY.” It has some silly lines from Yachty, like “let’s go to sunset-city, go to sun-city,” and albeit a fantastic feature from Fousheé, this song is the start of a short lull in the album. In that mix is the interlude “:(failure(:”, which is cool with its instrumental assistance from Mac Demarco and Alex G, but I feel like it does not add much to the album as a whole, as Yachty delivers a spoken word from his perspective on failure.
We saw that same energy from early in the album return with “WE SAW THE SUN!” The vibrato vocals seen in his hit song, “Poland,” return on one of the best-produced tracks this album has to offer. A couple of songs later comes the stand-out track, “IVE OFFICIALLY LOST THE VISION!!!!” With a comical elevator-music-esque intro, the song hits the listener with harsh noises and screams, before coming in with hard-hitting drums and one of the most energetic and raw sounds on Let’s Start Here. Diana Gordan’s vocals flow perfectly into Yachty screaming the track title in a beautifully climactic moment towards the end of the song. While it may not have much lyrical depth, the overall delivery creates a strong, emotional feeling that I never knew Yachty was capable of. You can absolutely say I was impressed.
The final leg of the album is where it shines brightest. “sHould i B?” sounds like it could be a bonus track from an upcoming Tame Impala album, but its coolest moments come with its ending. The droning guitars meet the theatrics at the beginning of “The Alchemist.,” creating a cinematic transition between two of the better songs on the album.
“REACH THE SUNSHINE.” ends Let’s Start Here. with a bang. Yachty’s and his team’s attention to detail is shown in the progression of this song. The acoustic first minute builds up to an intense, synth-layered melody that puts an exclamation point at the end of the album. To top it off, Daniel Ceasar joins Yachty with haunting harmonies that accent the song perfectly. The somber, piano-lead outro wraps this moody album up smoothly.
To compliment any part of this album without highlighting its collaborators would just be unfair. Yachty obviously did his research. Aside from Raisen, he recruited the likes of Chairlift’s Patrick Wimberly, Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s bassist Jacob Portrait, Magdalena Bay, MGMT’s Benjamin Goldwasser, and Nick Hakim. Whether they were a psych-rock veteran, or a modern producer, each of these artists contributed to Let’s Start Here.’s addictive sound and each should be celebrated.
Lil Yachty successfully created a psychedelic rock album, signaling one of the most interesting and entertaining sonic transitions I have ever seen from an artist. It deserves every ounce of hype it has received and Yachty has absolutely earned his flowers. I genuinely enjoyed it and am excited to see where Yachty takes his sound next.
Jacob Feinberg is a student at the University of Georgia, studying marketing and music business, with hopes to find a career in music journalism or artist management. After years of listening to and studying music, Jacob has decided to share his knowledge and opinion through Vinyl Mag. His favorite genre is rap/hip-hop, but you can catch him listening to basically any genre (r&b, jazz, rock, etc.). Jacob has a deep love for music and artistry, and he hopes to apply that by highlighting Athens's rich music scene and all its talented artists.