For the past five years, we’ve known the formerly-red haired Lil Yachty as a frontrunner in the rap scene of his native Atlanta. But the 23-year-old is now shifting his focus to Michigan, specifically the cities of Detroit and Flint, to almost be like a brand new mascot for the Midwestern US state.
With his latest mixtape ‘Michigan Boy Boat’, Yachty uses his own stardom to showcase some of the best rising talents from his “second home”. All about rampant flows and outlandish metaphors, Michigan’s signature off-counter rapping style seems to dance around the beat rather than fully cooperate with it – and it’s a flow that Yachty has fully adapted to here.
Yachty first dabbled in the Michigan scene back in 2017 when he and the viral Detroit star- turned-Michigan rap staple Tee Grizzley went back-to-back on the loaded ‘From The D To The A’. The two rappers reunite here on ‘Dynamic Duo’ to bring back a gangster-y bravado that Yachty hasn’t utilised in a while (“I took several trips with a look-a-like Kate Moss / My diamonds cost that me after, it’s okay ’cause it’s real Voss”). While he’s often been criticised during his career for his lack of technical skills – not to mention his love of crocky autotune – tracks like ‘From The D To The A’ and the aptly named ‘Dynamic Duo’ demonstrate that, should he want to, Yachty can utilise language just like some of your favourite other rappers.
Elsewhere, the Louie Ray-assisted ‘G.I. Joe’ shows off the great candour between the two. Ray has made a name for himself in internet rap recently as one of the ‘Coochie Men’ alongside his frequent collaborator YN Jay, who has made an array of viral TikTok tracks about their self-proclaimed title. Over ‘G.I. Joe”s Buddah Bless-produced commercial trap beat, which uses droning synths to create quite an entertaining hum, a rare occurrence happens: both Yachty and Ray rap on time. Full of grand braggadocio, the song also embodies the often cheeky nature of Michigan rap: “I got the bitch in the back of the Bentley / Outside in the back of the crib in a tent”.
The tight-knit scene that’s emerging in the streets of the Wolverine State is clearly making headway in the rap game, and it’s largely due to the beautiful synergy that flows between many of the artists who feature on the mixtape. Although the off-counter flow can get monotonous at times – unfortunately making a number of the tracks on ‘Michigan Boy Boat’ rather skippable – Yachty’s embrace of the Michigan scene here come across as a daring way of reinventing his once-bubbly rap aesthetic.
After being scrutinised for so long, ‘Michigan Boy Boat’ should help Yachty fight back against those who say he solely relies on his melodic chops. Maybe he should prolong his stay in Michigan?
Label: Capitol / Quality Control
Release date: April 23