Jersey City, New Jersey. That was the area Miles Parks McCollum, famously known as the rapper Lil Yachty, held the album release party for his newest work, “Let’s Start Here.” With the artist treating this as “Chapter 2,“ according to his Instagram, fans’ expectations only rose.
With legends of the hip-hop game in attendance at the Liberty Science Center party like Offset and Drake, Yachty made it clear he wants to be perceived differently – not as a SoundCloud rapper, which he started dropping EPs on in 2015, and not as a “mumble rapper,” where artists rap really fast on songs to the point people can’t understand what they’re saying. He also didn’t want to be known as a one-hit wonder, as many believe Yachty’s most popular song is “Minnesota,” which was eventually remixed with artists like Quavo and Young Thug. He wants everyone to view him as someone who is taking music seriously.
“Let’s Start Here” is a huge first step for that perception to come true.
Before even getting into the music itself, you have to at least analyze the cover art and the way the tracklisting looks. The cover art is AI-generated, and a lot of opinions can be made on what it exactly means. But according to Variety, they described it as a “demented boardroom of executives.”
Maybe this punk rock, Tame Impala-like album could be Yachty’s way of showing what music label executives really want to hear, instead of his flashy, poppy-rap songs like “Oprah’s Bank Account.” Maybe he is trying to send out a message about the current state of the music industry.
The track listing is also unique and all over the place, in a way, only Lil Yachty can piece the puzzle. Some words are randomly capitalized like “pRETTy,” some include punctuation like “:(failure(:” and some include it all like “sHouLd i B?”
But for any unsuspecting Lil Yachty fans and general fans of rap, once you enter this 14-song, 57-minute album, you would never be able to guess the music you are about to hear.
The synths introduced in “the BLACK seminole.” make you feel like you entered the world of “Tron.” And then suddenly, the guitars kick in, and Yachty begins the autotune singing that, for the most part, we all are used to. And if you thought he would kick back and forth between the original sound and the new sound, you would be completely mistaken.
Yachty enlists the help of many different voices throughout this album that not only help complement the unique sound he is trying to pull off, but also his vocals, which surely create a great vibe with the stellar production found on each song. However, there is not that much depth in his lyrics.
But in some cases on this album, the simplicity of Yachty’s wordplay works very well, especially with his hooks on songs like “the ride-.”
“Ooh, don’t ask no questions on the ride / Making eye contact is suicide, yeah / When I’m alone with my thoughts, I’m terrified,” Yachty sings.
The versatility of this album is something to behold, especially from a guy who released a song only a few months prior called “Poland,” produced by F1LTHY and was meme’d to the ground ever since its release. Yachty includes catchy and upbeat songs like “running out of time” and introspective and mellow monologues like the aforementioned “:(failure:).”
A few of the main producers on this album come from Jam City, SADPONY and Patrick Wimberly. The artists they have worked with include Olivia Rodrigo, Injury Reserve, 6ix9ine, Charli XCX, Solange and Beyonce.
And Drake. Why did I single him out? Because “Jumbotron S**t Poppin” was one of Drake’s most unique songs to date. And it worked really well, showing even the greatest in the game can venture out of the box and make some solid music.
And that is precisely what Lil Yachty accomplished with “Let’s Start Here.” He creates a new sound that Apple Music classified as alternative music, and it’s clear this was a project that was worked on for many years. A lot of time and effort was put into this, and in the end, maybe Yachty could have put a little more effort into his own vocals.
But if this is where Yachty is starting with being seen as a real artist, we have a lot to look forward to.