Lil Yachty Explores New Genres with Let’s Start Here

Falcon Rating: 4.5/5

Farooz Khan-Trunnell, Contributing Writer

When Atlanta’s Lil Yachty hit the mainstream, he was known for a catchy, low-stakes “bubblegum trap” aesthetic, with feel-good tracks showcasing a fun and subtly alternative attitude, playing counterpart to the darker sounds of his contemporaries. Telling a trap fan in 2017 that in about five years, Lil Boat would captivate audiences with an ambitious psychedelic rock and pop album would sound like a joke. But, beyond the initial shock and novelty, it’s clear that Lil Yachty’s newest album Let’s Start Here (LSH) has set the popular music landscape alight.

The epic seven-minute opener, “the BLACK seminole.” immediately displays the transformation with guitar riffs that feel straight out of a Pink Floyd song, colliding in a fireworks display with Yachty’s eccentric voice. Along with Floyd, Tame Impala is another popular psych act LSH has been likened to. But, these easy comparisons only comprise a small piece of the record’s galactic scope. 

Following this star-studded introduction is a prime example; “the ride-” relentlessly showers the listener with bright guitars, synths, and one of Yachty’s most fervent choruses. On paper, his murky trap croon is an odd fit for a psych rock album, but Yachty finds a satisfying chemistry with LSH’s nebulous backdrops, his autotune sharpening the emotion, rather than robotizing it. 

The track also features a hypnotizing rap feature from underground favorite Teezo Touchdown, highlighting the new Yachty era’s directorial ability to utilize collaborators. The singers especially add an invaluable dimension to the record’s smoother cuts, like “running out of time” and “drive ME crazy!”, which cohesively drift into a disco groove.

But for the listener, each orbit around Let’s Start Here reveals another layer.

Cuts like the aforementioned two, in tandem with “pRETTy” and “WE SAW THE SUN,” embrace the LP’s brighter, euphoric palettes. However, LSH’s kaleidoscopic soundscapes reach much gloomier emotional lows. Generally, the record exhibits a disconcerting aesthetic, its cover having the appearance of an AI-generated photograph—a uniquely 2020s expression of psychedelic surrealism. The personality is mirrored in lyrical and aesthetic motifs, implying our tripped-out protagonist is trapped within this psychotropic realm of toxic drugs and romance. Yachty takes this familiar theme and executes it viscerally. The downward spiral takes the multichromatic spotlight on “THE zone~” and especially “IVE OFFICIALLY LOST ViSiON!!!!”, whose eclectic narratives culminate in Yachty being flattened by a cacophony of vocals—a surprisingly stunning moment which might be LSH’s most enveloping. 

From this point, the album’s creative streak wavers with “sAy sOMETHINg” and “paint THE sky,” which are left far too dry to hold the immersion. Luckily, Let’s Start Here manages to regain momentum just as these imperfections begin showing. The closer, “REACH THE SUNSHINE.”, erupts from the smoky depths in a final plea of synths and guitars. While the sun may have broken through the psyched-out clouds momentarily, the tones in the record’s final seconds segue back into “the BLACK seminole.”, hinting that Yachty’s quest for sunshine is only cyclical.

But for the listener, each orbit around Let’s Start Here reveals another layer. Deeper analysis easily sets it above “gimmick,” revealing thoughtful transitions and tasteful allusions to a diverse range of influences. With some minor stumbles along the way, Lil Yachty has blasted open the doors for a new artistic echelon of his career, and it’s a privilege to be along for the ride. And what shines through the reverb-soaked depths is that Yachty is only getting started.