By: Ryan Croke
Since the beginning of his career in the music industry, Lil Yachty has always been a bit of an anomaly in the world of hip-hop. Known for light-hearted, energetic, entertaining pieces of work that have become iconic over the past few years, fans have come to expect a certain sound and style from the Georgia rapper. His albums have always had a select few hits, while the rest is typically middling trap music with no true standout characteristics. When he announced the release of Let’s Start Here., his 9th commercial LP, more of the same was expected of Yachty, and people tuned in at midnight on January 27 completely unaware of the surprise that awaited them.
After 28 seconds of a soft fluctuating synth line to open the record’s opening track, the guitar line that suddenly kicks in is a shock to anyone familiar with Yachty’s music. It’s from this moment on that it becomes evident that Yachty is operating on a new plane, and has departed from the monotonous trap he has been entrenched in for so long. That moment is a wonderful surprise that is representative of the surprise that this album is in its entirety.
Let’s Start Here. is unlike anything Yachty has forayed into before and comes as a complete surprise considering the context of his career to this point. Featuring elements of rock, hip-hop, and alternative, what Lil Yachty is able to accomplish with this record is truly remarkable. He has entirely reinvented the public’s perception of him and his music, and he has finally, in his own words, achieved his dream “to be taken seriously as an artist.” If this project is a precursor of what is to come in the future from Lil Yachty, this is only the beginning of what can go down as one of the most impressive musical transformations of this century.
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of this project is that it is so distinctly different from anything Yachty has tried before, and yet it still feels as if he is right at home with this sound and style. His vocal interpolations are infectious and pair so beautifully with the instrumental combinations, he stays true to himself, writing thoughtful, meaningful lyrics that don’t try to be something they aren’t, and the end result is a project that perfectly encapsulates the personal metamorphosis Yachty has been eager to undergo in recent years.
He brings a wide array of collaborators to the table for the 14-track LP, and each and every one of them is paired beautifully with instrumentation that complements their individual talents. Teezo Touchdown glides on the droning guitar lines of the ride-, Fousheé shines on the melodic pRETTy and The Alchemist., Justine Skye’s background vocals pair extraordinarily well with Yachty on running out of time and THE zone~, Daniel Caesar’s surprise appearance on REACH THE SUNSHINE. is absolutely heavenly, and Diana Gordon’s incredible vocal abilities are on full display on the BLACK seminole., drive ME crazy!, and IVE OFFICIALLY LOST ViSiON!!!!. Each individual contributor makes the songs they’re featured on their own, and the unique choices in featured artists from Yachty reflect his concern with his own fulfillment and effort in this project than he is with the commercial success of it, which is a welcome change of pace for him.
Let’s Start Here. is far from perfect, but in the grand scope of what Lil Yachty has been up to up until this point, this moment in time is a career-defining one for him, and being able to witness that in real-time is nothing short of remarkable. His efforts to create a piece of art he felt proud of have more than paid off, and the shift in public sentiments toward him from being “just another mumble-rapper” to having an early favorite for album of the year with a unique, genre-bending record that nobody was expecting is exactly what he was hoping for. The world should be excited about what’s in the works for Lil Yachty down the line because Let’s Start Here. is a beautiful, heartfelt project that is set to transform his entire career for the better.