By Jonathan Fuchs, Copy Editor
Key Tracks: “Intro (Just Keep Swimming),” “Up Next 2,” “1Night”
Every now and then, an album comes along that challenges the minds of fans of a particular genre by tinkering with familiar sounds to create something new and different. Deafheaven did it to the metal community with Sunbather, St. Vincent’s self-titled record did it for indie lovers and now Lil Yachty has done it to rap with his debut mixtape Lil Boat, which has divided hip-hop fans with its strange narrative and excessive auto-tune. While some reasonably hate it for its lazy Atlanta trap-rap sound, Lil Boat is really a mixtape with plenty of charm and personality.
Putting it simply, Lil Boat tells a scattered story about two brothers named Lil Yachty and Lil Boat in the perspective of their uncle Darnell Boat, who are all played by Yachty himself. This is described in the opener “Intro (Just Keep Swimming),” which perfectly sets the mood by showing the mixtape’s corniness through a Finding Nemo sample and its very subtle changes in atmosphere when the rapper changes between the two main characters. If you’re confused by all of this, don’t worry, because your confusion is just part of Lil Boat’s charm.
The first half of the mixtape shows off Lil Boat’s style through bass-heavy production and simple lyrics that play fun at rap stereotypes. A lot of the lyrics in the first half of Lil Boat take inspiration from previous rap acts but stretch the topics so much they almost come off as satirical. An example includes “Minnesota Remix,” which features a lyric talking about “Pat,” his lawyer who got him off a lifetime sentence, but manages to stay on this topic for quite a while, making it all seem borderline comical.
The second half explores Lil Yachty, a more emotional and sensitive rapper that has a lot more auto-tuned singing and melodic production. However, the goofiness of the previous half is still very evident here. Examples include songs like “Run / Running,” which contains a Super Mario 64 sample, the extended version of his breakout song “1Night,” which has plenty of quirk and fun in every line and “Fucked Over,” a banger that iLoveMakonnen only wishes he’d written.
Lil Boat is a wonderfully mind-boggling record that takes the listener’s knowledge and expectations for modern trap-rap and totally messes with it. It’s a really fascinating look into the way one person sees different sides of himself and is as delicately put together as it is funny and corny.