Lil Yachty Is Upstaged by Everybody Else on 'Michigan Boy Boat'
Published Apr 26, 2021"I ain't never got the respect that I truly deserve" is the opening line of "Final Form," the first salvo from Lil Yachty's latest mixtape, Michigan Boat Boy, an homage to the Wolverine State's burgeoning rap scene. Armed with a more aggressive delivery than his previous work, the Atlanta rapper presents a project that is meant to put Michigan on the map. Yachty rekindles the natural chemistry he fostered in past collaborations with Detroit heavyweights Tee Grizzley and Sada Baby and brings more obscure MCs YN Jay, RMC Mike, KrispyLife Kidd and Rio Da Yung OG to the forefront throughout the tape.
Fundamentally, this unselfish approach is what may have contributed to one of the mixtape's ominous flaws: the fact that Yachty is outshone by almost all the featuring rappers on the tape. This has more to do with Yachty's lackadaisical writing and mostly offbeat flows than any outstanding performance by Michigan artists.
That is not to say that Michigan Boat Boy does not have any redeeming qualities. "G.I Joe" is a bonafide banger and worth the price of admission alone, and Yachty's beat selection seldom misses throughout the tape. The same discerning taste that feeds his infamous sneaker collection allows the listener to enjoy innovative production and avoid run-of-the-mill percussive patterns. Unfortunately, the lazy lyrics on "Concrete Goonies" ruin its refreshing beat, and the collaborative "Never Did Coke" with California-based Swae Lee (of Rae Sremmurd) is both stylistically and geographically out of place.
Yachty has built a career on his unique voice and solidified a following while his label carefully crafted his image and made the most from his idiosyncratic personality. Since 2016's Lil Boat, Quality Control Records earned their namesake by providing solid projects to Yachty's loyal fans, albeit without being able to reproduce the commercial success of his debut. With Michigan Boat Boy, there is a painfully apparent lack of oversight, as Yachty can be heard laughing and scuffing up bars on some songs. This type of laissez-faire attitude may work for artists who have established their sound, but it is quite risky for a young MC who has yet to shake off his 'flavour of the month' reputation.
The mixtape format may excuse the lack of sonic cohesion for the project, but it does not explain the faltering artistic direction that is more than likely to leave Yachty's fans disoriented and disenchanted. With his recent collaboration with Reese's Puffs and some movies in the works, Lil Yachty seems to be reaching his pop cultural potential — regrettably, this latest outing does nothing to further his musical one. (Quality Control / Motown)