Lil Yachty, James Blake – Bad Cameo

A curious but enriching collaboration...

James Blake’s recent attempts to find alternative pathways for musicians in the streaming era have placed huge emphasis on the method of release, but it’s worth reminding ourselves that at his best, the English musician is one of the best around. If his recent EP acted as a clearing of the decks, then Lil Yachty collaboration ‘Bad Cameo’ rightly shines light on the craft, a soothing, extremely subtle song cycle that needs time for its labyrinth to be solved.

On the surface, this perhaps feels more like a James Blake album than a Lil Yachty one; digging a little deeper, though, and the collaborative aspects begin to truly crystallise. ‘Bad Cameo’ is reminiscent of the lysergic world-building that framed last year’s ‘Let’s Start Here’ while also having its own distinctive flavour.

‘Save The Savior’ is finessed and balanced, the heady melodies counter-acted by experimental nous. The record has the feeling of two musicians etching out new ground – ‘In Grey’ develops in real-time, while ‘Midnight’ has a suitably afterhours approach.

The title cut helpfully pivots the record, leading into ‘Missing Man’, a real highlight of the partnership. ‘Transport Me’ is fuelled by a palpable sense of yearning, while ‘Run Away From The Rabbit’ taps into a mutual paranoia.

Closing with ‘Red Carpet’, this is a succinct record, a carefully curated document of dual creation. ‘Bad Cameo’ doesn’t quite have the “what the fuck” aspects promised by Lil Yachty in a recent interview, but it does prove to have some extremely understated moments of impressive creativity. James Blake’s adoption by US rap’s top tier has prompted some raised eyebrows in certain quarters of the internet, but ‘Bad Cameo’ proves that the Venn diagram between the English artist and his hip-hop counterpart is an entirely natural, and deserved success.


Words: Robin Murray

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