"Let's start Here"
by Gavin Schauble
From his name alone many wouldn’t expect much of Lil Yachty. His image which consisted of dyed hair, tattoos, grills, etc. may give many people the wrong idea of him. And for a while he made the type of music you may expect, it wasn’t bad, actually he made a lot of great music, but he was just very inconsistent and his music didn’t have much substance. It seemed like this trend would continue with his late 2022 single, “Poland,” which is more of a joke song than anything. However, with his new album, “Let’s Start Here,” he takes his sound in a completely new direction. Yachty has been saying how he wants to be respected as an artist, and the rollout for this album showed that he was taking this album very seriously. He put out a video on his youtube channel titled “Department of Mental Tranquility” 3 days before the album's release where he appeared to be entering a world completely different than the one he’d been in, unlocking another part of himself. And on this album he does, he worked with a wide range of producers who have worked with Tame Impala, Charlie XCX, Mac Demarco, Yves Tumor, Alex G, and more. All great artists, but who are in completely different lanes of music. Working with these producers helped him craft a psychedelic rock album that is a major increase in quality compared to his other work.
The introduction to this album, “the BLACK seminole.” is a perfect introduction to this album. It shows the different direction he’s going immediately through the instrumental, which is reminiscent of something you’d hear from Pink Floyd. The song is mostly made up of just the instrumental and not as much time is spent with Yachty singing, but when he does he sounds good over it. There isn’t much going on lyrically in the song, but it’s made up for with the other aspects. Around halfway through the song though there is a beat switch where the instrumental completely changes and becomes much more intense. Yachty barely sings in this part, but it doesn’t feel empty at all. He continues with great songs through the next two tracks, “the ride-” and “running out of time.” Yachty and the feature, Teezo Touchdown, both perform great on this song. Yachty takes the main focus on this track, as it has significantly more time with vocals than the intro. He does a great job expressing his range and his very unique vocal style, fitting perfectly over the instrumental. When the chorus starts and the full instrumental kicks in along with his high pitched singing everything mixes together flawlessly. Teezo’s feature was phenomenal as well, he also has a very unique style where it sounds like a mix of talking and singing for a majority of his verse. However, when he does sing in the background of the final chorus it adds a lot to the song, giving it an almost epic conclusion. “running out of time” is in my opinion the highlight of the album. It focuses on a girl he’s pursuing, and although the writing is once again not super strong, it doesn’t have to be. The song has a much more laid back vibe than the previous two, and his singing reflects that perfectly. It’s much softer than anything to this point, but not to the extent where he brings no range to the song. The first three tracks of the album are all amazing songs, but after that it drops off in quality a little. All the remaining songs are still all very solid, but they start to blend together a little more and aren’t as memorable because of how good the first three songs are. Songs like “pRETTy,” “sAy sOMETHINg,” and “paint THE sky” all revolve around him stretching his vocals, but the only one that’s able to match the quality of the any of the first three songs is the “paint THE sky.” Songs like “IVE OFFICIALLY LOST ViSiON” and parts of “The Alchemist.” are more intense and in your face than anything else on the album. The rest of the songs continue with a more laid back and chill rock sound, such as the outro “REACH THE SUNSHINE,” which ends in a similar way the album starts, a mostly instrumental track, giving the album a feel that it’s like a cycle when listening to it, ending and starting in a similar way.
The high point on this album was by far the production. The vocals were still great and added a lot, but the production on this album was amazing across the board. Yachty’s consistency should be noted too, as there isn’t a single song on here that I’d consider bad or a skip. The worst part of the album is the songwriting and lyrics, they aren’t bad, but Yachty has never been a particularly strong writer and it shows on here. He explores a lot of topics like love, mental health, etc., but he doesn’t do anything super noteworthy with the lyrics, but to be fair he doesn’t need to that much, the instrumentals and his singing do a good job conveying the themes that are covered. The track “:(failure(:” is a spoken word “song” with Yachty talking about failure and material items, and how failure isn’t always negative. It sounds like a good idea on paper, but disrupts the flow of the album a little. The features on this album all do a great job though, from well established artists like Daniel Caesar on “REACH THE SUNSHINE,” Fousheé on “pRETTY,” and Teezo Touchdown on “the ride-,” to lesser known artists like Justin Skye and Diana Gordon on two songs each. Each brings their own great and unique performance to each song and actually adds to it.
“Let’s Start Here” was a great way for Yachty to finally gain respect as an artist, as it is a great body of work in a style we hadn’t seen from him before. He truly showed that he deserves the respect he’s wanted for so long. Hopefully this album is an indicator of what’s to come in the future from him. I'd love to see him expand and improve on this sound, or experiment further with other genres.
Rating: Mid 8/10