Ask Run-DMC: the musical dance between rap and rock music is nothing new. Despite publicly sharing that his next project would, in fact, be a departure from his signature rap sound, Lil Yachty fans are surprised by his new album, Let’s Start Here.
The 14-track album, rooted in the sounds of psychedelic rock, marks the rapper’s first full-length release in nearly three years. Let’s Start Here features guest production by Justin Raisen, Sad Pony, Patrick Wimberly, Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s Jacob Portrait, Nick Hakim, Magdalena Bay, and Jam City, as well as a musical appearance by MGMT’s Ben Goldwasser on the keyboards. While most artists are fearful of stepping out of the sounds fans have grown to expect from them, Lil Yachty, on the other hand, embraced the challenge. The creative deviation, according to Twitter users, has ultimately paid off.
Lil Yachty on his new album ‘Let’s Start Here’ at his listening event tonight 🍄
“I wanted to be taken seriously as an artist… not just some SoundCloud rapper, not some mumble rapper…”pic.twitter.com/4xHg7ihOKS
— Complex Music (@ComplexMusic) January 27, 2023
During a private listening party for the album, Lil Yachty shared his true motivations for stepping outside of rap music on this project. He told the packed room, “This album is so special and dear to me. I think I created it because I wanted to be taken seriously as an artist. You know? Not just some SoundCloud rapper. Not some mumble rapper. Not some guy that just made one hit. I wanted to be taken seriously because music is everything to me, and I respect all walks of music. Not just rap and hip-hop but everything. I wanted to make something that showed the world that shows it, just how great music is to me.”
The phrase “SoundCloud rapper” is often used to demise a rapper’s musicality. During the height of the streamer, aspiring musicians could upload raw cuts of their DIY songs using it as a way to gauge the quality, measuring it against how popular it became. Often time, these musicians didn’t have a formal background or training in songwriting or production. SoundCloud removed the barriers of entry for a lot of today’s biggest names in rap, including Lil Yachty, Lil Uzi Vert, and Chance The Rapper, to name a few.
Yachty then added that because the trendiness of the sound often found on the music streamer (pioneered by Lil Uzi Vert and himself) was being so over-saturated, he felt like it was time to reinvent himself. Yachty told the crowd, “If we’re just going, to be honest. A lot of n****s are copying the swag, and I just felt like if everyone can do this, that’s fine. But I’m going to show y’all what y’all can’t do.”
To be fair, Lil Yachty isn’t the only artist earning praise for their exploration into rock music, SZA also was applauded for her rock track, “Ghost In The Machine,” featuring Phoebe Bridgers, off her new album SOS. Kid Cudi has also released a fully rock-centered album.
Let’s Start Here is out now via Quality Control. Get it here.