Release Date: May 26, 2017
Record label: Universal Music
Genre(s): Rap, Southern Rap, Pop-Rap, Contemporary Rap
I f you are a hip-hop fan who considers a rapper's talent as directly proportional to the size of his or her vocabulary, and for whom the phrase "back in the day" is always accompanied by a wistful sigh, prepare for your worst nightmare in zeitgeist-surfing 19-year-old Atlanta rapper Lil Yachty. There are certainly some idiotic moments on his 21-song debut LP. On one chorus, he just says "Harley" over and over again, while, on Better, presumably floundering for a word that rhymes with "whatever" and "clever", he shoehorns in the name Trevor.
Nineteen-year-old "bubblegum trap" sensation Lil Yachty is rap's most polarizing figure. He joyfully hopscotches past hip-hop tradition in a way that's not only antagonizing to old heads (he famously told Billboard that he "honestly couldn't name five songs" by Biggie and Tupac), but actively unmoors rap from familiar ideas of rhythm and melody. On his debut album, Teenage Emotions, he brags that he has "never took a sip of beer" but has an intoxicated flow, crooning notes he can't hit and enthusiastically rapping beyond the beat.
The most polarizing figure in hip-hop today never asked to become a provocateur or rap reformist, but he was happy to oblige. When confectioner Lil Yachty and his team of teenaged separatists broke rank, more influenced by Kid Cudi and Chief Keef and pop-rockers Coldplay than the cliche rap Mt. Rushmore types, they challenged long-established ideas about what rap should sound like.
Before you listen to Lil Yachty, throw out any preconceived notions about what being a "rapper" means or how a rap album should sound. As he has stated in numerous articles and interviews, Yachty is not a rapper. To call him such would be an insult to both the genre itself as well as Lil Boat as an artist. He is one who cannot be boxed in with labels and stereotypes — a genre-busting, iLoveMakonnen/Young Thug super freak who bounces from one sound to the next with ease.
Arguably, Yachty's project is as much of a playlist as Drake 's More Life. Clocking in at more than an hour and 21 tracks the album has plenty of duds, but few of them are important enough from a narrative sense that you can't simply omit them from your listening experience. In a way, it's a testament to the excess of youth, but also to the outsized expectations and pressure foisted upon the 19-year-old Atlanta-based creative.
P unk horrified its elders; now trap appals its listeners' parents. Nineteen-year-old Atlanta rapper Lil Yachty, though, presents a very modern controversy. Releasing his first official album after two mixtapes and a slew of featured verses, Yachty isn't just sifting the youngsters from the fossils with an annoying, Auto-tuned warble. He is gleefully disrupting hip-hop - possibly pop music itself - with his "bubblegum trap".
While older figures have continually slagged Lil Yachty off for both his musical output and his place in hip-hop in general, the red-braided champion of youth has sailed onwards and upwards, with more material built on the strength of good vibes and warbling Auto Tune to become the self-proclaimed "King of Teens. " With his 21-track debut LP Teenage Emotions, Yachty captains a listening experience that, in its brightest moments, is equal parts revelrous and relatable. On the Lex Luger-produced "All Around Me" and the Diplo-helmed "Forever Young," Yachty is a melody master, pushing his unabashedly processed vocals to airy heights in the hooks.
Lil Yachty is weird . Not avant-garde, but unpredictable. After exploding onto the scene with an array of viral hits and an endless run of awkward run-ins and tiring arguments with fussy old hip-hop gatekeepers, you don't know what he'll actually deliver. Hence the messiness of his debut album, Teenage Emotions , which is long, unwieldy, and not at all designed to end debates over how good he really is.