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‘Lil Boat 2’ capsizes and perishes in the water

| Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Claire Kopischke | The Observer

I still remember when I first listened to Lil Yachty’s “Lil Boat” mixtape on a Friday after school in the May of 2016. I was a junior in high school, it was swelteringly hot and Lil Yachty had tip-toed onto the hip-hop scene with a voice higher than I thought possible for a serious rapper. Lil Yachty had a sound I could bang my head to when I drove. I liked that, regardless of how much my friends hated it.

Within a few weeks, I had gone to the thrift store and bought some vintage Nautica shirts in some vain attempt to imitate his seafaring style. He was barely six months older than me, so I liked to think we would have been stylishly-dressed best friends if we went to the same high school.

His sound, back then, was recklessly goofy — no song of his took itself too seriously. He brought what would become known as “bubble-gum” trap to the mainstream. His flow was like candy; you knew it was bad for you (and whatever pride you had in your music taste), but it sounded so good. His music was the kind of gum that you want to chew one piece at a time — a flavor and a sound you desperately wanted, but only in small doses.

Steadily, as he and his sound have grown in notoriety, Yachty’s music has declined in quality. That gum I used to crave has lost its elusive flavor.

With the release of his first album last year, “Teenage Emotions,” Lil Yachty reached for a more poppy sound with more technical raps, and, in doing so, largely abandoned the free-floating aura that he used to rely on. I genuinely tried to enjoy the album’s songs like “Bring it Back” and “Forever Young,” but I found it to be an increasingly difficult task.

Around a year later, I saw on Instagram’s explore page that his “Lil Boat 2” would be released the next day. But at this point, Lil Yachty had completely fallen off my radar. Seeing that there would be a sequel to “Lil Boat,” however, arguably my favorite musical endeavor of all time, instantly excited me. Maybe this would be a return to the good old days of Lil Yachty, I thought.

It was not.

“Lil Boat 2” is Juliet waking up to see Romeo dead — the final stab in the tragedy that has become Lil Yachty. That goofy kid with ridiculous red hair who captured my imagination by being himself and expecting nothing from the world is completely gone. “Lil Boat 2” is nothing but proof of his disappearance.

In the album, Lil Yachty trades his fun-loving spirit for vain attempts at structured rapping and something he hopes will be a sustainable commercial sound. On ”OOPS,” he does best to put the listener to sleep with his monotone delivery. On “POP OUT,” he tries to replace his old carefree personality with a toughness that isn’t inherent. They’re ideas that don’t work and by no means sound well.

“Lil Boat 2” contains nothing new, nothing unique and nothing fresh. “FLEX” is merely another braggadocio song without a hint of Yachty’s old carelessness. In fact, the central theme of the album is that Lil Yachty has a lot of money and gets lots of women. Good for you, Lil Yachty.

There was a time when Lil Yachty was a boat adrift with a bed sheet for a sail. Not everyone saw him and his direction wasn’t clear, but he meant something. Since stumbling into fame, he’s traded his bed sheet sail in for an engine. It is as if he is now rebranding himself as a “Lil Cruise Liney,” chugging along selling nine dollars cocktails to passengers and trying to ensure a steady paycheck. Sure, it’s a business model that may be safe, but is more money worth losing fans?


Artist: Lil Yachty

Album: Lil Boat 2

Label: Quality Control and UMG Recordings, Inc.

Favorite Track: “66”

If You Like: Not enjoying music

1/5 Shamrocks

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