If the part of the Internet where tiny hamsters ate tiny burritos and little cats with monkey costumes sat and ate bananas somehow became a person, then that person would definitely be Lil Yachty. Often times, when I am in that magnificently mythical, yet strange part of the Internet it is because I am wondering how I got there in the first place, but I am always glad I did. That is how I feel about Lil Yachty’s music. I have no idea how we got to this point in music, but I am glad we did.
Yachty’s light-hearted productions and auto-tune croons create a happy space for us who want a break from the negativities and life and just want to escape and let loose. Older hip-hop heads, namely Joe Budden, hate this and I believe they have never had the confidence to unapologetically be themselves, like Yachty and the rest of his peers, such as Lil Uzi-Vert.
Yachty’s eternal positivity was reflected through his refreshingly inclusive album cover for Teenage Emotions, which shows an ecstatic Lil Yachty sitting in a theater amongst equally as happy teens that represent body positivity, free expression, and same-sex love all in one.
The 19-year-old Yachty is something we rarely see in the hip-hop industry, which is a touch of honesty. In an age where nearly every hip-hop artist boasts about their pharmacy-grade collection of Xanax and Percocettes, one of Lil Yachty’s first lines in his intro song to Teenage Emotions is “And I still never took a sip of beer.” While of course he still brags about his many different sexual excursions with women (he’s still a teenager after all), Yachty never brags about committing crimes he never did or living a life he never lived. He grew up with a loving mother and father in an extremely manicured Stepford-wives area of Atlanta, and he owns it.
Starting with the cover and title, Lil Yachty had the opportunity to make this a truly cohesive project with a universal theme of the emotions that a teen like him would go through, but Teenage Emotions falls flat and is often all over the place in both lyrical content and production. I understand that Lil Yachty is his happier persona, and Lil Boat is the more sinister side, but I feel like it is a shtick that really isn’t needed in his act. The first track “Like a Star” is what we would expect from Lil Yachty, really gorgeous glistening synths and Yachty’s polished manufactured vocal sounds are pleasing to the ear, but then right after that track on “DN Freestyle” we are ripped from that and thrown into a very lackluster effort that isn’t even rapped on beat for most of the track.
In fact, all of the Lil Boat tracks aren’t that great, and at a hefty twenty-three tracks, we surely get a lot of it. There is a lot of meaningless filler in the album, and it could have easily been cut down to a listenable 12 or 13 tracks. “Peek A Boo” is a repetitive and abrasive track, that also has a disappointing line that highlights Yachty’s lack of basic instrument knowledge, which I am even more disappointed with the fact that no one around him corrected him. Yachty’s explanation for his infamous “She blow that dick like a cello” line was that no one told him a cello wasn’t a woodwind instrument. Sigh.
Anyways, one of the best tracks is “All Around Me”, which features YG and Kamaiyah. It merges Yachty’s dreamy style with YG and Kamaiyah’s old school California flows for a thoroughly enjoyable track. One of the only Lil Boat tracks I did enjoy was the grating “X-Men”, which features Evander Griiim. I always love a good comic book reference in hip-hop and this track manages to sonically flow together very well.
Although this is probably a vastly unpopular opinion, I think “Bring it Back” is an amazing song. What better era had some of the best movies featuring teenage emotions than the 80s? The Members Only jacket and Ray Bans aesthetic come through loud and clear on the echoing synths. John Hughes would be proud. The main reason I love this track is that is a completely fun and non-serious track that represents a better time where Ludacris could make joke tracks like “Move (Bitch Get Out the Way)” and Snoop Dogg could make tracks like “Sexual Eruption” and not get crucified for it, like Lil Yachty undeservingly does.
So whether you are watching a hamster eat tiny sushi on YouTube or listening to Lil Yachty, we all deserve a little happiness in our life, but I just wish Teenage Emotions had just a little less Lil Boat and a little more Lil Yachty.