If you ask your average “hip-hop/rap head” what they think of Lil Yachty, you’re gonna get a mixed bag of responses. Some people paint him as the poster-boy for “mumble rap” or “bubblegum trap” music, while others would describe him as a driving force behind the new generation of sound that is changing the landscape of the rap game. Personally, I didn’t really vibe with Yachty at first. Maybe it was the tone of his voice, or the red beads in his head, or the nursery rhyme like cadence of his hit song “Minnesota”, but whatever it was I just did not like Lil Yacthy. At all.
I’m sure many other hip hop fans have this same opinion. For the past few years, the genre has been ruled by rappers who put more emphasis on how they sound rather than what they say, which is certainly a point of concern for the “true hip hop fan” who remembers great lyricists like Nas and Eminem at the forefront of the genre in the previous decades. The fact of the matter is that Lil Yacthy cannot even be placed in the same category as the aforementioned rappers, and because of that, to truly appreciate Yachty’s ‘Teenage Emotions’, the listener must FORGET all their pre-existing notions about what rap “should” be, and see it for what it is now, a new wave.
First and foremost, the cover art for ‘Teenage Emotions’ screams 21st century teenage rap in the best way possible. Set in a movie theater, it features Lil Yachty rocking a pink suit while surrounded by a unique group of kids. There’s a guy who is albino, an overweight girl, a girl with a skin condition, and there’s even a homosexual male couple kissing! If a hip hop album with a homosexual kiss on the cover doesn’t mark a new era of the genre for you, I don’t know what will.
As far as the track list is concerned, Lil Yachty and his team brought out all the stops. Bottom line: this shit slaps. The biggest hits include “Peek A Boo” featuring Migos, “Forever Young” featuring Diplo, and “X Men” featuring a new artist Evander Griiim. I personally love the first track of the album; not only as a song, but as an intro. It begins with a voice, presumably Yachty, introducing himself and his alter ego “Lil Boat” (yes, there are two of them, and it’s a theme he seems to repeat, as he used a similar approach for the intro to his last album ‘Lil Boat’). Right away, “DN Freestyle” brings the heat and sets off the album in a hype direction. However, at Track 6, there is a shift in the vibe from hype (Lil Boat) to mellow (Lil Yachty) with the track “All Around Me” featuring YG. Yachty also uses this track to address his haters, during the chorus he says “They tryna clown me, but I got blinders on and I see nothin’ but the money in my face” - if you saw the Joe Budden interview with Yacthy, you know he’s not lying; he’s been getting clowned since he got big. While the album starts out well, it wasn't until my absolute favorite track on the album, “All You Had To Say”, that I started to become a true fan. The message in this song is sentimental and tugs at the feels, but then when the breakdown hits…DAMN. I may be going on a limb here, but that breakdown reminded me of “So Far Gone,” Drake’s first well received project. Then I got to thinking and, forget the limb this time, I’m going off the damn tree with this one: Yachty is similar to Drake. Not in the sense of sheer superstardom or artistry, but they do share some similarities. What are they? They both rap and sing, they both rely on vibes rather than lyrical content, and they both popped off while they were young. All that’s left is to see if Yacthy will have the longevity of Drake, a massive feat, but not an impossible one. And with this album, I for one am convinced that Yachty won’t fizzle out any time soon.
Look, take it how you want. I can’t make you feel anything, but what I can do is give my opinion and that opinion is that “Teenage Emotions” made me a Lil Yacthy fan. On this album he proves his versatility, he knows how to carry a vibe, and he makes music that evokes emotion: good or bad. I think Kanye said it best in his song ‘Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1’ with the line “…everybody gone say somethin’. I’d be worried if they said nothin”. You can hate Lil Yacthy all you want, but they fact that you have the need to voice that hate means that he impacted you in SOME way which is better than in no way at all. As an important side note, let’s also not forget about the incredible team Yacthy has behind him: Quality Control Music (better known as QC). The CEO, Coach K, discovered Young Jeezy, Gucci Mane, the Migos, and now has a 19 year-old phenom that isn’t showing any signs of letting up. I’m excited to see what Yacthy and Lil Boat have in store for us in the future. Call me crazy, but I’m a fan of Lil Yacthy.