If there is one artist in today’s post-geographic rap society with real influence amongst slated adults and teens, it’s Lil Yachty. An unparalleled connection with the youth makes the Atlanta star the self-proclaimed “King of the Teens.”
On his debut album, Teenage Emotions, the Nautica renaissance man sonically swivels from genre to genre as if he’s surveying the lives of teenagers everywhere and telling their stories. The album’s progression dips across the sky, sometimes shining brightly, but also sometimes casting shadows across the promise it holds.
Teenage Emotions is a lacquered effort. During the tactile highs of the project, the personas of Yachty and Boat battle each other, as Yachty’s auto-tuned voice fleshes out over steel drums and glorious chords, and Boat’s braggadocios bars surf across spectral synths and chunky bass-lines. Other tracks feature premature storytelling that seems over-saturated, but nevertheless, it’s hard to not relate to the red-braided artist’s best project to date.
Yachty starts the project off with a ballad of appreciation for his mother in “Like a Star.” In the bridge of the song, Yachty harmonizes “Look mama, you made a star.” Several tracks later, Lil Boat raps over a digitized and bubbly K. Swisha beat on one of the project’s highlights, “Harley.” The melodious chorus and swift verses from Boat provide an instant party player that is sure to move. On the heavy West Coast featured “All Around Me,” Cali rappers Kamaiyah and YG bring classic, tempered flows and changes of pace that neatly supplement Yachty’s nasal abilities.
Yachty does step out of his bakery-sweet rap style midway through Teenage Emotions. On “Better,” Stefflon Don and Lil Boat narrate with buoyant spirits the prospect of a positive future together. On the album’s released single and best track, “Bring It Back,” Yachty pleads for empathy and return by calling to his ex with this ‘80s-pop, rhythm and blues configured ditty. “You need to bring it back/ You’ve been gone for too long, it’s time to come home,” Yachty sings to his cherie amour.
On the final two songs, “Made of Glass” and “Momma (Outro),” Lil Yachty unleashes all of the teenage emotions he has built up, which is timely since his days of being a teenager are quickly waning. “Made of Glass” features Yachty talking about unreturned love, as the character he develops mourns over the lack of attention he gets from his crush and, possibly, past partner. “Made of Glass” has an interesting instrumental, which uses ornate sounding orchestral instruments, such as the piano and the Tao violin. “Momma (Outro)” parallels the intro in its dedication to the most important person in Lil Yachty’s life: his mother. “I love my momma/ I need my momma/ My best friend/ The lady of my life/ My momma,” Yachty praises, putting his youthful iniquities out of his mind and focusing instead on the advantages his mother bestowed onto him.