A punchy return from the hard-working rapper...

Lil Yachty wants to hear his name. The Atlanta rapper’s furious work rate – five projects in less than five years – has been matched to huge commercial success, even making in-roads into Hollywood. He isn’t happy, though, and the first line of new tape ‘Michigan Boy Boat’ makes that clear: “I ain’t never got the respect that I truly deserve…”

If his new tape aims to focus on the art, it certainly stakes a claim for one of Yachty’s best pure rap documents. The features – there’s a heavy Detroit influence to the tape – are carefully chosen, while Yachty’s own bars move quickly from braggadocio to self-doubt, from his most explosive to his most exposed.

Quickly asserting itself from the intro, ‘Michigan Boat Boy’ slips into the crunching Tee Grizzley collab ‘Dynamic Duo’. The bubbling ‘Cartoon Goonies’ finds Lil Yachty on familiar ground, before switching it up on ‘Don’t Even Bother’.

‘Never Did Coke’ is autobiographical, with Lil Yachty splitting the track with Swae Lee. Indeed, ‘Michigan Boy Boat’ feels like a generation coming of age, the interlinking relationships between underground communities to forge something distinct and new. The swaggering ‘Ghetto Boy Shit’ pits that concrete beat against blasts of light in the arrangement, a sign of the production variations that permeate the project – see also, the intriguing bell sounds that underpin Yachty’s super-fast-flow on ‘SB 2021’.

As with all of Lil Yachty’s tapes to date, ‘Michigan Boy Boat’ is fast on ideas and entertainment. He remains very stylised, though – if you like that style, fine, but there are few concessions. As such, it’s difficult to see ‘Michigan Boy Boat’ winning over the doubts – sure, it’s definite progression, but it feels more like a reinforcement of core values than an attempt to reach out.

7/10

Words: Robin Murray

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