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Taping recap: Lil Yachty

Breaking into stardom after the release of 2016 album Lil Boat featuring popular track “Minnesota”, Atlanta rapper Lil Yachty sailed into the scene with his iconic autotuned vocal style and lighthearted lyricism. Yachty makes his ACL debut with his latest album Let’s Start Here. as the centerpiece, a clear departure from his previous sound. The embodiment of a modernized pop-infused psychedelic funk album with a soul influence, the album reflects a clear tribute to the 70s soul funk scene. The innovative rap star delivered a powerful fifteen-song set backed by a six-piece band, while welcoming special guests, Teezo Touchdown, Justine Skye, and Fousheé aboard the S.S. Yachty for a thrilling musical journey. Yachty’s iconic vocals swim amongst a sea of sound being carried by the god-like vocal performance of the band’s backup singers that invoke a rich, soulful, and dynamic sound worthy of many a moment of sonically-induced goosebumps while listening. He delivered a thrilling performance reflecting the album’s musical breadth, signaling his arrival into an increasingly colorful sound inspired by meaningful musical influences—synthesizers, guitar solos, keyboards, and clap-alongs all included–welcome aboard the S.S. Yachty. 

Yachty and crew sail into the first track “the BLACK seminole.” laying the foundation of the psychedelic soul sound that will be representative of the musical foundations laid within the the new record. A slowed down, psychedelic acid jazz-type instrumental that Yachty’s reverbed vocals seemingly weave in and out of, the vocals echo into the night’s first groovy guitar solo. A track that thematically pays homage to the cultural identity of the black psychedelic funk and soul sound, Yachty sings “The black seminole, a head general…a black man with mouths to feed, embracing equality throughout greed.” The rapper takes a moment to recognize the variety of talent that is represented amongst his band–a high energy  all black, female band wearing matching black sweatsuits, bandanas, and shades. The crowd applauds as the musician asserts“I got all my sisters here with me,” indicating his intentional choice of the all-female power band with remarks on the strength of the female talent and citing how “Women rule the world.” 

Following that shot of truth, the S.S. Yachty welcomes aboard a trio of special guests. Rising into action, “the ride-”, brings an 80’s inspired synth-sounding pop track featuring vocals from upcoming Beaumont rapper, Teezo Touchdown. Yachty’s light-filled ethereal sounding vocals complement  a contrasting, in your face ‘ vocal performance by Touchdown. The Texas rapper sings holding a hand full of flowers and a head adorned with his signature wig of nails, and graces the stage in a pair of white go-go boots enthusiastically rapping into his bouquet before fist-bumping Yachty during his exit. The pair makes a playful and energetic presence on stage as they vocally bounce off each other, leading the crowd into their first wave of groovy head nodding. 

The slow psychedelic sounds of funk are back in the spotlight with “The Zone~” featuring Yachty’s blossoming, kaleidoscope-like vocals that ripple throughout the track before meeting with the funky lightness of guest artist Justine Skye’s R&B inspired vocal style. A track for sailing on auto-pilot, relaxing into the magnetic mellowness of reverbed and distorted guitar and vocal tracks, the S.S. Yachty sails onto seriously smooth waters. Before diving into the climactic disco anthem “drive ME crazy!” the Atlanta rapper singles out a pair of enthusiastic fans in the front row,  The stoked pair cheer as Yachty announces he will dedicate the disco anthem to them, a token of the Captain’s appreciation for his most sunny of sailors. The track reflects the absolute energetic force radiating from the sheer talent produced by the Yachty band. The disco anthem immediately brings an impactful wave of energetic groove amongst the crowd, uplifting the sea of Yachty youngsters. A disco groove irresistible to any seasoned rollbouncer slowly melts into the slowness of the synth sounds of “The Alchemist.”

Bringing  the performance to the  album’s musical climax, the upbeat nature of “The Alchemist.” brings an energetic presence. In typical Yachty fashion, his instinctually uplifting lyricism continues to carry as the foundation to the inherent early and current Yachty sound, singing “No need to brag, but I was built for this. I know now that most men would kill for this.” The track breaks away from the funk foundations and leans towards the pop and R&B undertones still present within the album’s influences. On the Yachty sound spectrum, the rhythmically upbeat pop influence combined with the vocals of his final guest, R&B singer Fousheé, place this track several blocks away from the intersection between psychedelic funk and soul that tends to encompass the record. 

Yachty and crew bring a soulful presence fueled by a powerfully talented band of musicians that reflect the identity of the rapper’s musical experimentation inspired by traditional sounds served up a-la-Yachty. The captivating performance mobilized a sea of sing-alongs, head banging, and sheer applause for the massive talent of Lil Yachty and the musical journey. Using his debut ACL taping to showcase a departure from the conventional Yachty style, Lil Boat and crew create waves with a newfound sound that soulfully satisfies.

All photos by Scott Newton.