Quality Control

As we dive deeper and deeper into the digital age, “Internet rap” seems to have emerged onto the hip-hop scene’s forefront. It has made a big splash with today’s younger generation, which occupies a significant chunk of the current rap music spectrum. One of the artists pushing this new untraditionally digitized subgenre forward is 18-year old Atlanta native Lil Yachty. The 2016 XXL Freshman has had a surprisingly noteworthy first half of the year and his new mixtape, Summer Songs 2, aims to carry that same prosperous momentum into the latter half of the year.

Lil Yachty doesn’t claim to be the God MC or anything close to it but what he does often crown himself as is “the King of the Youth.” Rap music has always been a young man’s game but in 2016, the tables have turned so far adolescent that it has almost become cool to disregard any rapper over the age of 30. Yachty however, doesn’t spew any OG slander on Summer Songs 2 but does definitely cater to the modern teenage rap consumer.

A prime example comes less than a minute into the mixtape when Yachty rallies the “we are the youth” chant on “Intro (First Day of Summer).” He not only explicitly bigs up the youngins on this track and others but he goes to bat for the new generation of young rappers on “For Hot 97.” Lines like “I'm still the king with the crown/King of the teens/Show some respect in my down/Nigga talkin' crazy, he get shot down” and “Hold on, money so old, check his colon” show just how defensive Yachty is about this new gen of rappers and the alleged gatekeepers that hinder their prosperity.

This mixtape stays relatively consistent in terms of sound and instrumentation, which is a smart play for someone as new to the scene as Yachty. Every song tends to border on being a little too similar to the next but it's clear the goal is to go for dependability and not out of laziness. Production mainly comes from his close collaborator Burberry Perry, now known as The Good Perry, but features some outsourced sonics as well. For the most part, the beats consist of a lot of rolling trap drums and soft digitized keys that play the perfect canvas for Yachty’s sing-rap-talk-hum hybrid.

Removing the drums and claps from “Dipset” would leave you with what sounds like the jingle from a Jack-in-the-Box. Plus, some beats even sound like they could possibly be Nintendo64 game soundtracks slapped in the face with trap drums. “Shoot Out the Roof” literally sounds like something straight out of Super Mario Brothers or Mario Kart. Millennial much?

Although Yachty gets top marks for being unapologetically himself, there are just some moments on this mixtape that are hard to digest. As much as this new “not rhyming Auto-Tune rap” can be fun in small doses, 14 songs in a row of a similar sound can get annoying. On “Yeah Yeah," Yachty blurts out “That's probably why you're never ever here/You left my heart froze like cold turkey/All my diamonds cold like cold soda” which doesn’t even come close to rhyming or flowing; ultimately it renders itself basically unlistenable. There are other instances on songs like “Why” and “Up Next 3” where his laissez-faire rap style gets hard to get on-board with even though the overall vibe invokes such a good mood for listeners of all ages.

If you take Summer Songs 2 for what it’s worth, you will appreciate the listen. If you search for incredible insight or deeper meta-meaning in tracks by an 18-year-old who calls himself Lil Boat, well, you aren’t going to find it. It’s clear that Lil Yachty, on this tape especially, is just trying to have fun making music for the summer. The beats are amusing, the rapping is playful and at the very least, those who are too young to have a beer will enjoy it for many months to come.

Go Behind the Scenes With Lil Yachty at 2016 XXL Freshman Cover Shoot