Genre Distinctions are Blurred on Let’s Start Here. by Lil Yachty

Genre Distinctions are Blurred on Let’s Start Here. by Lil Yachty

Eli Robinson, Staff Writer

Over the years, musical genres have become increasingly hyperfocused and specialized. Each major genre has hundreds of niche subgenres that are often abstract fusions of a medley of other large genres. Many artists have undergone musical transformations that have seen them hop the fence from genre to genre, and the new Lil Yachty project, Let’s Start Here., is a prime example of an evolution of an artist, and serves as a case study to the state of music in 2023. 

Lil Yachty has been known for years in the rap community for his billboard hits caked in autotune and has made a name for himself in the hip hop community by continuously dropping hits. However, his peak has seemingly passed along with the SoundCloud era, and it seemed as though Lil Yachty may be an artist to look back on, not look forward too. My mindset heading into this album was to expect the fun pop rap songs that I was accustomed to. This expectation was shattered instantaneously as I was met head on with an album filled to the brim with sonic depth and experimentation. 

Before I discuss Yachty’s performance on the album, I’d like to highlight the supporting cast of features. Diana Gordon and Fousheé consistently created a fresh R&B voice to contrast the processed vocals of Yachty, but the most pleasantly surprising feature was Teezo Touchdown on “The ride-”. Teezo has an energy that perfectly meshes with the track’s upbeat synths. Teezo’s effortless joy that he exudes on this track adds to the contrasting lyrics and sound. Teezo sings, “I feel empty, riding on E,” in such an upbeat tone that you forget the depressing discussion being had on the track. 

In terms of Yachty himself, I’m unsure where to begin. If you told me a week ago that I would be listening to a Lil Yachty album with psychedelic rock tracks, I wouldn’t believe you in the slightest, nevertheless, here I am. The opening track, “the BLACK seminole.” blows the listener out of the water with its intro of bubbly synths, followed by gorgeous guitar chords, and Lil Yachty’s voice floating over them on a cloud of autotune. This rock inspiration is also seen on the track “IVE OFFICIALLY LOST VISION!!!!” which contains hard rock guitar chords and drums, all overlaid with airy background vocals that add a hint of mesmerism to the track. The progressive rock route Yachty finds himself going down on this album could have left him losing himself, but instead he shines. The signature Lil Yachty autotune is still very present, and he has been able to stay true to his sound while also exploring outside of his genre. 

The overlying theme of the album, both sonically and lyrically, is levitating. Throughout the entirety of the album, Yachty maintains an upbeat attitude in his vocalization, and holds long autotuned notes to create a bright and sunny atmosphere for his listener. The tracks “WE SAW THE SUN”, “paint THE sky”, and “REACH THE SUNSHINE.” all add to this theme lyrically by picturing Yachty elevating towards the heavens. The feeling of being uplifted by love discussed in each of these tracks are supported sonically by the angelic background vocals and a feature from the talented Daniel Cesar. While this uplifting nature is felt through the elongated and intense synthesizers and lyrical content, there is also a sense of the inevitable downfall from this high point in the final track “REACH THE SUNSHINE”. Both Daniel and Yachty sing “I’m a bad person” after a track filled with the discussion of trying to grasp the light with the help of another, presumably a partner. This track presents a goal, but as the song progresses you sense that it may never have been achieved as the track fades into a solemn piano, and finally into silence. A rather pessimistic end to an otherwise optimistic project from Yachty. 

In summation, the newest Lil Yachty album is beautifully unexplainable. Yachty’s seamless transition from genre to genre displays a versatility that is deeply impressive. The genre bending attempted by Yachty is a great mesh of personal sound and experimentation throughout most of the 57 minute run time, leading to a project that can stand alone in whichever genre it is characterized as. However the tracklist does have some examples of Yachty biting off more than he can chew. The tracks “running out of time” and “The Alchemist” present similar ideas to those on other songs, but feel more like decent ideas that weren’t fully fledged out compared to other songs. Yachty’s evolution leaves the listener with a unique listening experience, while also maintaining the fun that is anticipated when entering a Lil Yachty tape.