Lil Yachty’s debut studio album ‘Teenage Emotions’ just dropped and the Acclaim office had a lot to say about it. Guests for this roundtable include: Acclaim’s managing editor Mia and editor-in-chief Mitch, music writer and Complex Australia assistant editor Dan, writer and DJ Kish, and DJ and producer Tom (Deer). We grabbed a phone, hit record audio, and here are the results:
Kish: Are we all Lil Yachty fans? ‘Cos some people hate Lil Yachty.
Dan: I wouldn’t’ say I’m a fan but I understand why he exists. I can totally see why people would like him.
Tom: I’m similar to you. I still enjoy his stuff, but I don’t think he’s released a solid body of work that’s solidified him in the rap and hip-hop scene or whatever scene he’s trying to be in. Which seems to be all of them.
Mia: On that note though, he’s a teenager and it’s Teenage Emotions. He doesn’t know how to express himself because he’s 19. What kind of deep issues can he really get in to on an album?
Tom: That’s what I was hoping to see. In terms of a theme of an album I feel like he fell short in that it wasn’t really that solidified. To me it just seemed like a bunch of tracks that he’s done with a bunch of people. There’s no single person running through the whole thing.
Mia: I am a Yachty fan but I think I’m looking at him in a different perspective to someone who has a real hip-hop head background. I’m looking at him as a pop star. He references Chris Martin from Coldplay as his idol. From that level I appreciate what he’s about. I love him from a marketing perspective. As a brand, Yachty wins me over.
Tom: Do you think that brand is shown in this album?
Mia: I like his brand overall and his music too, but with his new song ‘Bring It Back’ seeing the video is what really sold me. If I just heard the song, I don’t know if I would have been as about it. I wouldn’t say the album is fully formed. But I do see where the messaging comes from—as a teenager you just don’t know what the fuck you feel like. I’m trying to be meta about it because I want it to be.
Dan: I don’t think it’s that meta though. What Yachty has said was that each song represented a different teenage emotion.
Mitch: The album is 21 tracks. Do teens have 21 emotions? Ugh.
Dan: A lot of the songs he’s just flexing as a 19-year-old millionaire, which a lot of teenagers can’t relate to but they can aspire to.
Kish: I think the trajectory of the album reminds me of The Pinkprint. It starts off with bangers, then hits this weird RnB spot, then gets a little emo, and I think the end of it is really teenage-y. Like ‘Priorities’, and the song about his mum—it’s just really sweet.
Tom: The song about his mum is weird.
Kish: I think it’s really lovely.
Tom: But he’s saying how sexy she is and how she can get all these dudes.
Dan: He talks about fucking people’s mums heaps throughout the album.
Mia: There were a few lines in there where he was talking about cheating on his girlfriend and fucking sluts or something that was questionable.
Dan: He’s pretty problematic.
Mitch: Yeah but you’ve given a 19-year-old the most opportunity and the most money any 19-year-old can possibly get—that’s gonna get problematic.
Dan: He used the word whores way too much.
Kish: Guys, it’s rap.
Mitch: I did want to talk about the guests especially. A couple of times it almost felt like it was the guest’s track featuring Yachty.
Dan: He doesn’t have a strong presence as an artist yet.
Tom: I think he’s got a strong presence but because he’s not a lyricist he’s got to bring something else to the table and at the moment it’s the quirky marketing.
Mia: It’s probably because he doesn’t have a definitive sound that he’s defined yet. This album just goes all over the place. There’s hard Yachty then there’s soft Yachty. I’m here for soft Yachty because I want to hear those hooks, but not the ballads. There’s too many feels tracks.
Kish: The album was way too long.
Mitch: I think that’s something everyone will agree with: this album is too damn long.
Dan: You look at it in the context of Drake’s More Life and that was made specifically for streaming to hit as many targets as he can with different vibes.
Tom: How many tracks was that?
Kish: There are probably five tracks on Teenage Emotions that I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between. But on More Life every single track is good.
Dan: It’s an engineered thing to have that many tracks. It’s so you can hit as many targets as you can.
Mia: I have such a short attention span that I’m literally going to go on Spotify or whatever, pick out my six to ten favourite tracks and never listen to the rest of the album again. The strike rate if you pick half an album with 21 tracks instead of having six tracks to choose from and picking one or none that you like. So from a business perspective it’s better.
Dan: We’re in a music environment where you make your own album. You get a lot of tracks, pick the ones you like, and put them on a playlist. Imagine the attention span of a teenager, it’s even shorter, they’re going to cherry pick what they like.
Tom: The songs I enjoyed most were the ones where they highlighted Lil Yachty and shined a spotlight on him. The overworked ones like ‘Bring It Back’ are so trash.
Dan: It reminds me of when Lil Wayne did Rebirth trying to do rock music—same thing as Lil Yachty trying to do ‘80s music.
Mia: I think of it as a pop song. Like Calvin Harris’s ‘Slide’, that kind of vibe.
Everyone: Whoah! What do you mean? What?
Mia: It has that direction of feel-good vibes.
Dan: I liked the more aggressive stuff; it worked.
Mitch: It was actually interesting and surprising to me.
Kish: I agree.
Dan: You could guess it’s aiming to sound a bit like Migos or something.
Tom: Well there was an interview where he said, when he’s in the club and the DJ would play his songs no one would really react to it and it wasn’t up to the standard of everyone else’s tracks. So he wanted to make a song that would bang in the club.
Mia: Club or strip club?
Dan: Both. Strip club, club, then radio.
Mia: What’s the deal with Darnel Boat? Is that not just Thurnis Haley (Tyler The Creator’s alter ego)? Is this a thing Yachty and Tyler talk about? Or is no one addressing it?
Mitch: I think would just be an influence. Yachty would be from the age group when that really hit.
Mia: So when are Thurnis and Darnel going to do a collab? There’s also the theme of his mother, and Yachty playing to the mama’s boy card is like Harry Styles playing to the feminist card. I don’t know how to feel about this. If you’re going to play to the teenage thing, then who ever liked their mum as a teenager? That doesn’t really make sense.
Dan: Maybe the mums will buy the album for their kids now.
Mia: The freestyle I thought was limp.
Mitch: It was limp, but I don’t expect a good freestyle from him.
Dan: I think it’s just to please Ebro, to show he can spit.
Tom: He can’t though. He even says he can’t.
Dan: It’s a very traditional rap thing to come hard with a super spitter track, like a Meek Mill type intro.
Mitch: But Yachty is not meant to be from, or for, that part of rap.
Dan: It seems like he’s trying things at the moment. The more aggressive stuff was great. ‘Priorities’ appeals directly to teens because it says, “fuck school, fuck the rules” and has that Odd Future sentiment to it.
Mia: Do you feel it was a bit extra though? I feel it was overly playing to the teens though.
Kish: He is a teen though.
Mia: That’s true, I always forget.
Dan: One thing I noticed is that a lot of this is definitely forgettable. How many of these tracks down the track are we actually going to remember? But he has done a good job of putting together an album that people like Soulja Boy, Chief Keef and artists like those never did. Shout out to him for that.
Kish: When I got to ‘No More’ I wrote down, “is this emo Boat?” Then I listened to ‘Made of Glass’ and I thought, “Oh my god—this is so emo!” I can totally see myself sobbing to these tracks.
Mitch: I think the album is a bit lost. There’s singles you can pull off it but as an album it’s not going to break any boundaries, which is what I was hoping for. Where can he go from here?
Tom: To Hollywood, where he stars in movies and makes more money.
Dan: The money is in his brand. This shows good potential to what could be a good album in the future. I don’t think this is the one but he’s 19-years-old. But at the same time Nas was 20 when he wrote Illmatic.
Mia: I wonder how many singles he’s gonna pull off this one because there’s a shit load to choose from.
Tom: That’s the thing, as an album I don’t know if you can call it a successful or great listen but there’s definitely singles you can just keep churning out and make a shit tonne of money from. Is Yachty ever going to release a 10/10 album, though?
Mitch: Yachty’s not an album guy and that’s been proven by this release. That was just a theory before—but now it’s been proven. I think he’ll learn a lot from this.
Tom: This album will push him out to more and more people. I’m getting Instagram ads about it.
Dan: When parents know who Lil Yachty is—that’s when it will happen.
Tom: I reckon there’ll be a Katy Perry x Lil Yachty collab.
Dan: There already is.
Mitch: OK, I want everyone to put a number on it.
Mitch: That equals a 6/10 overall.
Kish: I was going to say it was pretty good but I caught myself just before I lied. I think it was okay. This definitely wasn’t an album for teenagers, I think he was really just talking about his own teenage emotions.
Teenage Emotions by Lil Yachty is out now.