Ever since Lil Yachty blew up last year with his single “1 Night,” he has been one the most controversial figures in the modern hip-hop scene. He angered many with his lack of knowledge of classic rap, but his I-don’t-care attitude is the very ethos of the genre. Hip-hop is the only genre of music where blatant disrespect of predecessors is not only commonplace, but part of the culture. While Yachty might benefit from studying the classics, his ignorance has allowed him to establish his own signature, minimalist sound.
Teenage Emotions is the 19-year-old’s debut studio album and his most complete project to date. Yachty displays a great deal of versatility and can effectively balance his signature ballads with aggressive verses backed by a trap beat. Andre 3000’s The Love Below and Kanye West’s 808’s & Heartbreaks are arguably the two most influential albums in contemporary hip-hop. Yachty does a great job of channelling both, which results in some fantastic, heart-wrenching tracks. Although the album may run a little long, it is still an enjoyable and hilarious listen.
First and foremost, the production on this album is fantastic. What makes it even better is just how varied it is, from the reggae-driven “Better” to the cold and eerie “No More.” On top of that, there is a plethora of banging trap beats that command your attention. But one of the most interesting instrumentals is on “Priorities.” It sounds like a modern take on a golden-age rap beat which is only furthered by Yachty’s slow-paced flow.
It is no surprise that Yachty is not the most talented emcee, but he does certainly have his moments. The best display of his emceeing is on “X-Men.” The flow he uses is near the same as the one he used on “Terminator” last year with A$AP Ferg. Yachty displays great technical ability, with a consistent flow and good syllable count. But something he often struggles with is staying on beat, especially on “DN Freestyle.” His verse is still enjoyable but it feels like he rapped this acapella with the instrumental being added later. The biggest issue with his emceeing though is his very limited vocabulary and basic rhymes. There are times you could swear he bites his rhymes straight from Dr. Seuss.
While Yachty may be enjoyable to listen to, his vocal performances can be borderline terrible. His lack of technical ability is indeed part of his appeal, but it gets obnoxious to a point. His performance on “Harley” is beyond annoying, but it manages to be incredibly catchy. He does have moments where he comes off genuine on the album as well. His vocal performance on “Like a Star” is shockingly beautiful even if it is not the best from a technical perspective.
Lil Yachty is a unique artist who certainly isn’t for everyone and this album is no different. Even those who enjoy his music like it more from an ironic perspective. He does provide a great deal of variety on Teenage Emotions, which certainly keeps it from becoming boring. There are a few throwaway tracks, but Yachty’s outlandish personality more than compensates for them. On one hand, this album is god awful. On the other hand, it is so ridiculous that it’s hard to hate on. Regardless of which perspective you subscribe to, there is no denying how fun it is.
“Say My Name”
“Bring it Back”
(Feature Image: Virgin EMI Records)