Lil Yachty dropped a new album called Let’s Start Here via Motown Records/Quality Control on Friday (January 27), another one I was completely ready to ignore. But then Questlove wrote such a convincing argument as to why I should listen to it that I found myself typing “Lil Yachty” into my Apple Music search bar. Not only did The Roots drummer—whose musical tastes I greatly admire—say it got him “hyped” about the future of music, he also labeled it Lil Yachty’s “departure” album, comparing it to the likes of Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique or The Beatles’ Sgt. Peppers. Me? I think of it more like his reinvention album in the spirit of Childish Gambino’s Awaken My Love! (although some would disagree).
Anyway, back to Questlove. As he explained, “I dunno man: after about 3 listens (and I thought I’d NEVER say this—-& not because ‘I didn’t expect this from Lil Yachty”——but just in general I didn’t expect this from MUSIC). How should I put it? I really really really really love this @lilyachty record and I love when artists pull off a good departure record (departure albums are when musicians pull a COMPLETE creative left turn —-most times as a career sabotage of feeling doomed to not be able to live up to a standard they set. Not being able to make the Thelma & Louise jump. Quitting the job/relationship before you give em a chance to fire you).”
But Questlove took it a step further and applauded Lil Yachty’s album louder than the audience at The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.
“Some famous departure albums backfired (Sgt. Peppers wound up making the Beatles even MORE important,” he continued, “further proving you can’t just do tin pan alley showtunes & think THAT is gonna get rid of the screaming fanbase….now the entire world wants a piece of you). Some were pure art that turned off the fanbase that came to the party for seconds of what you served before (Paul’s Boutique/Around The World In A Day) some seemed like career disasters w critics (Dylan’s Self Portrait & Davis’s On The Corner & Gaye’s Here My Dear).
“And then some come just for the sheer sake of surprise & man it’s like ‘WTF did I just listen to?’ (Kid A/Kamaal The Abstract/Back To Black/A Seat At The Table). This aptly titled #LetsStartHere lp might be the most surprising transition of any music career I’ve witnessed in a min, especially under the umbrella of hip hop. I remember @divinestyler_1 has a sophomore release that shocked me & im still processing the 3rd @junglebrothers4life lp some 30 yrs later. But man….whatever you put in your Wheaties bro….keep goin.”
Of course, reviews are mixed. People still wanna hate the kid who couldn’t name five 2Pac or Biggie songs. But if the musicians in Questlove’s comment section are any indication, Lil Yachty made a good album. But we’ll let you be the judge.