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How 'Let's Start Here' Started Rebuilding Lil Yachty's Rap Sound

Lil Yachty is seen as an interesting character in the rap community. 

Miles Parker McCollum got his start in the SoundCloud era some six years ago, dropping songs like the two-time platinum hit “One Night” and albums like the “Lil Boat'' series. Rap fans across the globe were catching on to this new movement of self-made music in the mid-to-late 2010’s, and it wasn’t just Yachty that was at the helm of it. Rappers like Lil Uzi Vert, Ski Mask the Slump God, Playboi Carti, 21 Savage, Juice WRLD and XXXTentacion shaped a new sound of hip-hop for the new generation of hip-hop heads. But, when the era was extinct in 2019, according to XXL, some rappers were going to sink, while others would swim and continue to be great. Unfortunately, Lil Yachty was one who sank…at least for a little while. 

The Mableton, Georgia native would then release two mediocre projects in two years, “Lil Boat 3.5” in 2020 and “Michigan Boy Boat” in 2021. Each of them were desperate attempts at regaining the same popularity he garnered during the SoundCloud era. As both albums were not gaining any traction, he decided he needed to change and let go of the past.

In an interview with Billboard earlier this year, Yachty said, “I wanted to show a different side of me – and that I can do anything, most importantly.” 

That different side of him turned into “Let’s Start Here.”

The ethereal, extra-terrestrial alternative album showed that the rapper was willing to take risks and explore different sounds that he never dared to do six years ago. In an interview with Zane Lowe at Apple Music, he mentioned he was “just trying to figure out my artistry and just myself as a person…I graduated high school and then six months later this life started so I was just a kid.” 

Through “Let’s Start Here,” one could tell how Yachty had something to prove with this album and wanted to show that he wasn’t just a one-trick pony. 

The album peaked at #9 on the Billboard 200, the third time Yachty reached the top 10 on the list. The album featured numerous musical outliers including Teezo Touchdown, Fousheé, Justine Skye, Diana Gordon and more. It is critically-acclaimed by many different music media outlets including Pitchfork and HipHopDX, and is regarded by many as his best album to date.  

However, in the months since its release, the album hasn’t just revolutionized his place in the music world, it has strengthened his rapping skills as well. He recently dropped four new songs, “Strike (Holster),” “Solo Steppin Crete Boy,” “Slide,” and “TESLA.” All of them have catchy hooks mixed with Yachty rapping like he’s returned to the SoundCloud era. It’s safe to say the rap community took notice, as all four songs are placed in the top 10 of the rapper’s most popular songs to date on Spotify. 

Just last week, the rapper collaborated with JID, whose album “The Forever Story” was placed at #3 on Rolling Stone’s “The 25 Best Hip-Hop Albums of 2022.” The duo dropped a 2-pack album called BlakkBoyz present Half Doin Dope/Van Gogh. In both songs, the tandem were rapping at the top of their game, along with showing great back-and-forth chemistry on something like “Van Gogh.” A feature from Detroit-rapper BabyTron gave an excellent regular rap and acapella rap performance on the song “Half Doin Dope.”

It’s clear that Lil Yachty has been through the ups and downs of the rap game. He was on cloud nine (pun intended) to begin his career, then his popularity diminished, and now is back in his rightful place as one of the top rappers in the industry. 

And he isn’t stopping anytime soon.

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