Lil Yachty redefines himself with “Let’s Start Here.”


Digital image created by DALL·E 2 AI from prompt by Ivan Mendoza

Lil Yachty released “Let’s Start Here.” on January 27, a mesmerizing album layered with hypnotic vocal performances and lush instrumentation. For years, people would only view Yachty as a rapper who mumbled and as an artist that prioritized melodies over lyrics. However, he recently broke the mold with this new project where he takes heavy influence from Pink Floyd but fuses his own charisma and artistry into the mix.

Ivan Mendoza, Entertainment Editor

Ever since he first garnered buzz and attention in 2015, Lil Yachty always stood out among his peers in the hip-hop industry. From his iconic XXL Freestyle performance to popular singles such as “Minnesota” and “Poland” to rapping under alter egos such as “Lil Boat”, Yachty illustrated himself as an artist with incredibly catchy melodies and an amazing personality. However, it seems that the hip-hop community found it difficult to see him as anything beyond a rapper and constantly labeled him as a “mumble rapper”. For years, the industry fit his artistic capabilities into one category of music and scolded him for adventuring into new territory. But in 2023, Lil Yachty finally built the courage to branch out of his comfort zone and he provided the world with a phenomenal hour-long rendition of Neo-Psychedelia. 

“From the start of Lil Yachty’s career, I did not think much of him as an artist, but over time I gained respect for him through other Yachty fans, and after thoroughly listening to his latest album, I can undoubtedly title him as one of my favorite artists,” junior Christian Limardo said. 

For an artist who claimed that his main influences in music consisted of Kanye West and Soulja Boy, it may sound unbelievable that an artist with Yachty’s discography could ever create music reminiscent of Tame Impala and Pink Floyd. Fans also shared their skepticism regarding an “alternative album” after Yachty’s cryptic Instagram post of an AI-generated album cover for his upcoming project titled “Let’s Start Here.” The album cover portrays several men and women in business suits with blurred and distorted faces, all of them either smiling or laughing at the camera. In a sense, the album cover represents the industry and the listener, as people wonder how a well-known “mumble rapper” could ever create a masterpiece.

The opening track “the BLACK seminole.” acts as a beautifully cinematic introduction, where it begins with multiple synth noises overlapping each other. The drums then finally kick in at the 27-second mark, and once these drums collide with Yachty’s echoing voice and hypnotic guitar riffs, the listener becomes hooked from the start. In addition to its mesmerizing sound at the beginning of the song, the track ends with a captivating drum performance and melodies from Yachty and Diana Gordon.

  Lil Yachty remains far from the best melodic artist within the hip-hop community, but with previous songs such as “Breathe Deeper- Lil Yachty Remix” under his discography he certainly maintains a decent vocal range, as well as familiarity with psychedelic music. With cuts such as “the ride-” and “pRETTy” in the album, his shaky vocal snippets manage to complement the lush instrumentation perfectly.  However, his vocal delivery in “IVE OFFICIALLY LOST VISION!!!!” came off as weak and unnecessary, especially in the latter half where it sounded as if he interrupted the song right before Diana Gordon could continue singing. 

Speaking of Gordon, the underrated singer shined throughout the album and she deserves her flowers. “drive ME crazy!” stands out as an enchanting song where Gordon and Yachty harmonize with each other and where they sing innocent lyrics about experiencing love and jubilee. Although her feature is hidden, several other prominent singers share hidden features layered within the album. For example, Teezo Touchdown’s drowsy voice and word repetitions in “the ride-” stand as a highlight of the album’s versatility. Yachty crafted an album with cheerful moments and catchy production, but Daniel Caesar’s chilling performance combined with his echoing voice and haunting instrumentation on the last track “REACH THE SUNSHINE.” will leave listeners with goosebumps. Yachty did an abundance of research before indulging himself in a full-length psychedelic rock project, as he grabbed producers such as Nick Hakim and provided writing credits to Alex G and Mac DeMarco. Yet, Lil Yachty managed to orchestrate a kaleidoscopic experience with obvious influence but also formed an authentic and personal piece of music that everyone deserves to listen to. 

“Compared to his previous albums, this one takes the cake. I feel like nobody knew a genre flip from Yachty was what we needed, and any changes from his previous formula of music would be unnecessary. Not only did Yachty change everyone’s mind on the subject, but he also presented how introspective he is as an artist, and how innovative he can be with his music,” Limardo said. 

Time and time again, artists within the hip-hop realm attempt to make music with new genres through experimental albums that could either hit or miss. For example, Tyler, The Creator’s “IGOR” acts as a spellbinding fusion of neo-soul and synth-funk where Tyler unfolds a vivid story about love and toxicity. Yet, not every experimental album becomes a cult classic, as Drake’s attempt at house music on “Honestly, Nevermind” felt rushed and lazy. With Lil Yachty’s own attempt at experimentation, it becomes apparent that the 25-year-old artist took his time and care in curating this LP. Although the music industry typically sees Drake as a rapper and the Grammys awarded Tyler’s neo-soul masterpiece with “Best Rap Album”, time will tell if the industry will finally take Yachty seriously. Whether or not people overlook his dedication to working in new genres, Yachty redefined himself as an artist with “Let’s Start Here.”, and fans wonder where he branches out next.

The Chant’s Rating: A-