Lil Yachty's dark and underwhelming personality
Genius Magazine, a prolific publication focusing on hip-hop music and culture, put out a video on May 26, 2017 to coincide with the release of then-rising rap star Lil Yachty’s debut album, “Teenage Emotions.” In the video, hosted by Letty Martinez, we are treated to a breakdown of Lil Yachty’s two personas, “Yachty” and “Boat.” Much in the vein of Nicki Minaj and her “Roman” persona, Lil Yachty chose early in his career to have dual personalities, one to rap and the other to sing.
On “Lil Boat 2,” Yachty’s second studio LP out now on Quality Control/Capitol/Motown Records, the rapper treats us to both personalities equally, failing to be good at either.
The artist doesn’t seem to understand what people want to hear. With both his first and now second studio efforts, he has given listeners some rather dark rap: low, warbling baselines, slapping hi-hats, muttered lyrics written in a fashion that makes them easy to holler at the mosh pit concerts for which he has become known.
But people don’t like this “dark” approach. His first album moved an underwhelming 44,000 units, with the rapper going on to say he was “devastated” by this result. Yet for supposedly being upset he doesn’t seem to have learned anything the second time around.
“Lil Boat 2” is immensely arduous to listen to, in part because there isn’t much going on. The lyrics are as dull as a Southwest on-flight menu, with the themes coming off as equally stale. While the rap community does revolve largely around acquiring wealth and female adoration, Yachty makes these topics seem incredibly boring, a feat in and of itself.
Listeners love Yachty when he is at his youthful, red braid-swinging best: tracks like DRAM’s “Broccoli” or KYLE’s “iSpy.” These carefree, quotable tunes managed to vibe with a considerable portion of the population because they’re just so happy. Tonally they are the embodiment of a spring break romp at the beach: poorly mixed drinks, sweltering heat and the occasional arrest for indecent exposure.
Where “Lil Boat 2” goes astray is in its commitment to be so melancholy. It’s as if ‘80s Madonna was trying to channel Lil Xan: no sane person wants to hear that. To see Yachty’s descent from happiness, one needn’t look further than the third track, “Oops.”
“Fuck a bitch, I’m like, ‘oops,’” Yachty half-growls. The lyric works from a comedic standpoint, but its presentation is so dark that it makes the whole matter seem off-putting and contrived.
Lil Yachty fails because he is trying to channel all of his contemporaries without doing anything unique. He wants to be a little 21 Savage, a little Migos, a little Playboi Carti. But he doesn’t ever want to be himself. For reference, one can look at the 2016 XXL cypher. After hearing Denzel Curry and Lil Uzi Vert freestyle, Yachty takes the mic and spends the next few moments trying to recreate his prior’s attempts. The results? Disastrous. Success in the music industry never comes from being like everyone else. Sure, you can adopt a similar agenda, but your presentation must be unabashedly your own.
Whether or not the third Lil Yachty project will capture the so often mentioned ‘charm’ remains to be seen. Yet given the somewhat stubborn nature of this artist to tactfully discover what works and what doesn’t, we may well be treated to another bass thumping headache with all the appeal of camping without water in the Sahara.