Lil Yachty – Let’s Start Here

A left-field turn...

In truth, Lil Yachty has often felt more fascinating as a person than as a musician. The rapper’s sonic palette wrestled with child-like glee, the retro-futurist palette sampling everything from Gameboy sounds to the Rugrats theme. ‘Lil Boat 3’ in 2020 felt stunted in its growth, too reliant on old tropes; in comparison, new album ‘Let’s Start Here’ rips up the rulebook, a turn to the left-field soaked in yacht rock, bleached out 80s references, and the kind of samples that infused those early Washed Out records with such invention.

Largely eschewing straight-up rap for half-sung, half-spoken interludes, the results – though patchy – contain some of his best work yet. Opener ‘the BLACK seminole.’ moves as a codeine-slow pace, the submerged vocals fraught with drama, the palette leaning on slomo LA sleaze rock guitar solos. ‘the ride-‘ feels as though you’re caught by the beach in Miami Vice, the salty wind piercing your lips – above all else, it’s actually pretty fun.

With only 14 tracks spread across a full hour’s worth of music, ‘Let’s Start Here’ could do with some trimming. But then, relaxation and largesse seems to be the name of the game; from the extended jazz intro that ripples through ‘running out of time’ to the meditative ‘WE SAW THE SUN’ it’s a record that oozes out to form its own path.

Fousheé features on the excellent ‘Pretty’, while Daniel Caesar adds a church feel to climactic finale ‘REACH THE SUNSHINE’. The features are used sparingly, the emphasis on the production soundscapes, and Lil Yachty’s relaxed but often non-linear songwriting.

It’s far from perfect. For every clipped, Silk Sonic esque moment – step forward ‘drive ME crazy!’ – there are moments of meandering musicality, and uncertain songcraft. That said, there’s plenty in here to soak up – from its title out, ‘Let’s Start Here’ seems to point to a fresh beginning for Lil Yachty.


Words: Robin Murray

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