By Scott Christensen, June 01, 2017 —
Lil’ Yachty is following up the success of his two mixtapes with the release of a 21-track album, Teenage Emotions. Though the teenage rapper is notably divisive, his debut full-length represents the evolving landscape of R&B and hip-hop.
Lil’ Yachty’s self-described “bubblegum trap” style — using auto-tune while rapping over glistening beats — blurs the line between R&B and hip-hop. In “Priorities,” Lil’ Yachty blends the styles as he effortlessly switches between rapping the chorus and belting out other lines. This blend of techniques gives the album a sense of cohesion.
But the album truly shines during genre-bending performances like “Bring it Back,” where Lil’ Yachty pushes the boundaries of hip-hop with a song that resembles an ‘80s pop hit. In “All You Had to Say,” he performs his bars with a sing-song flow. And “Better” provides a distinctly tropical vibe through steel drums and acoustic guitar, further proving the uniqueness in his artistry.
Shortcomings in Teenage Emotions are few but worth mentioning. The songs where Lil’ Yachty drops the auto-tune and just raps over contemporary trap beats are poorly executed. His verses aren’t bad and the production is interesting, but these songs feel thoughtlessly tacked onto the album. Only tracks “DN Freestyle” and “Dirty Mouth” stand on their own, bolstered by Lil’ Yachty’s aggressive energy.
Though parts of the album feel out of place, Lil’ Yachty shows his impressive scope. Teenage Emotions is a surprising breath of fresh air in hip-hop. By experimenting and blurring the line between genres, the album hints at where rap could be heading in the near future. Fans will definitely enjoy the album, but if you’re only now looking to get into Lil’ Yachty’s bizzare music, this is the place to start.