Lil Yachty's Psych Rock Enthusiasm Is Contagious on 'Let's Start Here.'

BY Alex HudsonPublished Feb 1, 2023

Probably no one had "Lil Yachty makes a fantastic psych rock record" on their 2023 bingo card, but here we are. Let's Start Here. is a hard pivot for the rapper — an ambitious turn from an artist who has long been more popular than he is critically acclaimed or decorated with awards. Sure, he did appear on a Tame Impala remix last year, but few could have expected such a vivid and exploratory psych album as Let's Start Here.

A press release cites Yachty's "long-time love of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon" as the genesis for Let's Start Here., and that influence becomes extremely apparent on proggy seven-minute opener "the BLACK seminole." With interstellar arpeggiators that ripple across the cosmos, epic drum fills, and wailing guitar and vocal solos, Yachty begins the album by essentially cosplaying as Pink Floyd.

It's a stylistic mission statement — but Yachty's trippy soundscapes are much better when he absorbs his influences rather than copying them. A funk bass anchors the infectious '70s dance groove of "running out of time," and the disco influence returns in the string-soaked strut of "drive ME crazy!" (which features one of a few enigmatic cameos from elastic-voiced singer Diana Gordon). Lil Yachty's falsetto wobbles with otherworldly Auto-Tune, effectively connecting his origins in bubblegum trap with this more recent fascination with far-out psychedelia.

There's a charmingly naïve quality to Let's Start Here., which makes room for golden pop melodies, towering space rock and ambient synth fuckery. In both music and lyrics, there's a sense of unselfconscious exploration; he's profound in his plainspokenness on the gorgeous "sHouLd i B?" as he asks, "Am I mad at what you did? / I don't think so / But should I be?" On the spoken-word ambient piece ":(failure(:" — which was co-written with Mac DeMarco and Alex G — he offers stoner wisdom about learning to look on the bright side and discusses the struggles of being "quote-unquote rich and famous." There's nothing worse than hearing a celebrity complain about success, but for the 25-year-old Yachty, who has been famous since his late teens, it seems like an honest reflection on his own experience.

Unvarnished one-liners abound. "I did one too much many pills" he complains on the stomping psych garage of "IVE OFFICIALLY LOST ViSiON!!!!" — the words of a man too stoned to use grammar. His spiritual grappling on "drive ME crazy!" yields an extremely weird juxtaposition of ideas: "I love my mother, my sister, my daughter / All these hoes get slaughtered, I can't deny, pray to the holy father." Uh, what?

The artist who once rapped "she blow that dick like a cello" because he thought a cello was a wind instrument still doesn't seem to have an editor — and, thanks to the contagious enthusiasm and open-hearted musings of Let's Start Here., Lil Yachty is better for it.

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