Turning on “Let’s Start Here,” you might wonder if Pink Floyd just released a collection of B-sides from “Dark Side of The Moon,” but it is, in fact, just Lil Yachty’s new psychedelic rock album. Stepping away from the trap sound of his records like “Lil Boat,” Yachty dips his toe into an established genre with a giant team of qualified psychedelic artists, and yet contributes nothing to the genre.
Right off the bat it’s impossible not to notice Nick Mason’s half-time drumming full of tom-tom inflections, Richard Wright’s complex organ fills, David Gilmour’s bright guitar rhythms and Roger Waters’ tight, groovy bass lines. It’s also impossible not to notice how poorly they are executed and, of course, Lil Yachty’s whacky voice soaring above it all, as if he sung his vocals into his iPad. Let’s stop right here and just say it.
“The BLACK seminole” is an obvious Pink Floyd rip-off that even includes its own discount-brand version of the instantly recognizable female vocals from “The Great Gig in The Sky.” The following track “the ride–” opens with the same washing machine, industrial tones that color the album “Wish You Were Here;” and then track three, “running out of time” is a recycled Tame Impala track.
The derivativeness of the album continues throughout, but the most annoying part is that Lil Yachty’s digitized voice is singing nonsense through the entire thing; his vocals are the only thing that separate this from being a cheap, AI-generated psychedelic playlist from an amateur Youtube channel with 20 followers. The worst part is that his vocals make everything worse. The man isn’t a singer; he can’t sing, but that’s what he’s trying to do. It sounds like they handed a 5-year-old the microphone and told him to just “come up with something.”
Checking the credits of the album, Lil Yachty has a writing credit on all the songs and a production credit on the other half, but if his involvement is anything like how he comported himself on Kenny Beat’s show, “The Cave,” I imagine he did a lot of sitting around complaining while someone else did all the work.
Psychedelic music and hip-hop have gone hand-in-hand for years now, with the two genres working in tandem as early as A Tribe Called Quest, and really thriving through the exploration of artists like Kid Cudi, A$AP Rocky, OutKast, Madvillainy and KIDS SEE GHOSTS. While those artists adapt psychedelic tropes to hip hop in order to explore new sonic possibilities, Lil Yachty (or his team) seem to have confused psychedelic delirium with messiness.
The mixing on this project is SO MESSY. As soon as a track starts to have more than four or five instruments, all the middle frequencies turn to mud, the bass blows things out and the highs stick out too much. On some tracks, in lieu of inventiveness there’s just a placement of samples that seem to be meant to spruce up the sound, but really just sound like clutter, probably to mask the lack of creative composition or thematic concepts.
All that said, because Lil Yachty is making psychedelic music, a genre that at its base-level defies mainstream accessibility in its inherently experimental medium, it’s much more interesting than something like a Machine Gun Kelly record or a Miley Cyrus product, but the fact that banality and lack of inspiration can be so easily hidden doesn’t do much to redeem it. If you like psychedelic music, then don’t bother with “Let’s Start Here.” It’s been done before and done better.