Fresh off his new single “TESLA,” it’s clear Lil Yachty is a frontrunner for this year’s MVP.
At its onset, many wondered if this psychedelic foray would coexist with the Atlanta native’s trademark “Bubblegum Trap” style. Months after its release, though, Boat has outwardly showcased his versatility and evolution as an artist — continuing to share alt-adjacent performances ranging from fan-favorites in “Strike” to “One of Those Days” and “Flowers” off Zack Bia’s debut EP, Learn to Fly. Veering off the beaten path, Boat’s even boasted a vaulted country song to Kai Cenat on stream, further proving his willingness to step outside the box.
As Boat blossoms into an unrelenting cultural icon, his musical run in 2023 has further cemented him as an all-encompassing creative. Providing color to tracks with Current Joys, Miguel and 1017 ALYX 9SM (on top of sharing Slide and upcoming efforts on Birthday Mix 8 and the Lyrical Lemonade album), Yachty is in an unbound creative space — reaching new heights altogether.
“TESLA” — EP
As the latest addition to Yachty’s waterfall EP, “TESLA” oozes color and creativity — embodied by the visual framework of Cole Bennett. While the two have remained close friends and collaborators over the years, both “STRIKE (HOLSTER)” — which was also directed by Bennett — and “TESLA” feel vastly different than the pair’s prior work. Still as frivolous and carefree as “YAE ENERGY” and “POLAND,” Boat and Bennett sharpen each other like iron, willing to push creative boundaries collectively, in this instance.
It’s undeniable Yachty’s swagger stems from his willingness to shapeshift his vocals that sound like he’s in mid-time warp. Part of the reason why “TESLA” sounds as stunning as it does is that it’s built for live performances. Its minimalistic yet booming instrumental, produced by MitchGoneMad and WesGoneMad, already expects to set pits ablaze with Boat’s simple “MMM MMM” hook; sometimes less is more. It’s all energy for Yachty, who rung in his 25th birthday with the new single amid Birthday Mix 8’s de facto delay. Nevertheless, “TESLA” is another flex of Yachty’s full power, continuing to develop his newfound signature sound with the string of tracks the EP’s brought forth. — Jon Barlas
“Gatsby” — Current Joys
Embracing his newfound alt-indie fanbase, and one of its biggest names in Current Joys, Boat contributed to “Gatsby” on their newest album, Love + Pop. “I’m in the concrete, why I go for more peace? Life is almost right, I made a couple tweaks,” Yachty raps on “Gatsby,” skating over a signature Current Joys surf-rock, post-punk track. In a departure from his usual dependence on luxury hip-hop, this new style has revealed a more introspective Yachty, intent on proving his lyrical and vocal talent and perfecting a sound that is distinctly his.
Near the end of the track, Current Joys’ frontman Nick Rattigan and Yachty trade off a chorus filled with lines referencing a strong adoration for psychedelics, and presumably a woman. During this hook, Rattigan’s melancholic voice — that has helped pioneer an unmistakable sound for bands like Surfs Curse and Current Joys — contrasts with Boat’s traditional rap ad-libs and vocal flairs, heard on “Strike” and “Poland,” in an unlikely pairing. — Evan Heighes
“Warriors” — 1017 ALYX 9SM
“Number 9” — Miguel
Joining Miguel for a rather brooding cut ahead of the R&B star’s forthcoming album, “Number 9” is as enigmatic as Miguel’s star power — exchanging sung flows with Boat as he floats over the track with effortless poise.
Check out more Lil Yachty below!