Lil Yachty Plays by His Own Rules on ‘Teenage Emotions’ Album
Within the last year, Lil Yachty has increasingly become known more for what others say about him than his actual music. He's been the talk of the rap game and not necessarily for good reason. Whether its Joe Budden spazzing out on him for being “too happy” or the countless other veterans upset at his “mumble rap” success. Either way you slice it though, Yachty is truly carving his own lane and appears to be taking all the criticism in stride. His debut album, Teenage Emotions, was highly anticipated for a slew of reasons but most of all to see how the 19-year-old would work within the parameters of all the hate.
There are instances on Teenage Emotions where Yachty is very much in control of his feelings, and has no problem taking the high road when it comes to pestering haters. He’s the type of guy who opens up the album with what is perhaps the most happy-go-lucky line ever. On album opener “Like a Star” he says, “I done did a lot this year/Made a lot of friends, some come, some go/And I still never took a sip of beer.”
On the LP, Yachty appears smart, sensible and sober—all traits that match with the ideal teenage role model. He refers to this pleasant side of himself as Lil Yachty while also introducing listeners to Lil Boat, his IDGAF side. This side of him raps with the utmost disregard for the haters and takes every chance he gets to stunt on those who doubt him. He rears his ignorant head right away on “DN Freestyle” with lines like, “Uh, all day I'm rocked up/Plottin' on a bad bitch to come and suck dick/Cook French toast and clean the bathroom/There's piss all on the floor, bitch, go clean it up.” It’s quite the 180-degree switch from the model teen showcased on a song a few minutes prior.
This down-to-earth vs. don’t-give-a-fuck dichotomy is what the album revolves around, which makes sense given the album is called Teenage Emotions. Yachty, who will bid farewell to teendom when he turns 20 in August, undoubtedly deals with both feelings of sensibility and savagery in the same breath—especially when he’s right in the middle of music’s most polarizing genre. There are instances where Yachty comes across as the most parental pleasing teen on earth with an ode to his mother on “Momma” and by wishing everyone eternal happiness on “Forever Young.” And then there are instances where he turns into a super savage like on “Peek A Boo” and “Dirty Mouth.” Both sides have pros and cons but where he excels most is when he’s on the good guy tip—simply because his singing stands out.
Other than the subject matter on the project, which is fairly limited, the biggest difference he showcases is between his singing and rapping—Lil Yachty doing the former and Lil Boat the latter. While his rapping has improved drastically since he first emerged in the music industry, he still struggles getting across certain beats seamlessly—not to mention his incorrect usage of the word cello: “My new bitch yellow/She blow that dick like a cello.” As he knows now, cellos don’t require blowing to play.
However, his Yachty side is actually pretty slick at rolling across a more dance-oriented beat. A perfect example is “Forever Young” with Diplo. The quick-paced, feel-good jam has Yachty mixing quick melodic bars with gravely high notes that aren't the easiest to sing along with. In fact, the songs in which he sings feature less mumbled lyrics than the rap-centered tracks. He has achieved the art of making unperfected vocals sound distortedly blissful, especially on “Lady in Yellow," where he coarsely croons, “Little miss lady in the yellow, hello/Would you like to push petals through the meadow with me?”
In terms of production and how the album sounds sonically, Yachty is a little all over the place. For the majority of the 20 tracks, each has a different producer and no two songs sound alike. This both helps and hinders the listening experience. On one hand, the scattered sounds align perfectly with the overarching idea of wildly varying teenage emotions, but on the other, it’s hard to attentively listen to all the way through—especially with a whopping 21 songs. While the project is lengthy, there's something for everyone, whether it's a freestyle perfect for a rap head ("DN Freestyle") or an ode for the sad boys club "(Made of Glass").
Lil Yachty's official debut proves he's having fun making music that he likes despite the criticism he's faced. He doesn’t take himself too seriously and actually manages to successfully put together an album with a decent theme and purpose. Teenage Emotions exemplifies Yachty playing by his own rules, as he puts it on "Priorities": "I said fuck school/And fuck the rules/I'ma do whatever I want to/When I say so." His decision to defy authority—which could also be looked at as the old school hip-hop regime here—on his LP marks a fascinating starting point for the "King of the Teens."
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