Ice ice ice ice ice, yeah, ice ice ice water
Lil Yachty is becoming one of the more talked about new artists from Atlanta, largely because his style is so polarizing. As I talked about a bit ago, the vibrant and fertile hip hop scene there, supercharged by the internet, is exposing us to some of the weirdest directions in hip hop yet, with even the most minute ideas being able to expand into smooth and catchy bangers. Yachty's new mixtape has been the focal point of the general debate over the validity of the whole thing: the negative Pitchfork review represents the crowd that feels we need a little reigning in, whereas the positive Needledrop review reflects the sort of positivist enjoyment-seeking that lead to the mixtape's creation in the first place.
Me, I haven't listened to the mixtape yet. I will soon, but for the time being, I am more than content to continue just bumping this single song. I've heard a few others by him, but this is the one I've latched onto, the one that defines him for me. It has given me what feels like a complete picture of Lil Yachty that is so wonderful and engrossing that I am not eager to risk counterevidence. In the simplest terms, he seems like Lil B + Makonnen, and that is... the best thing anyone could possibly imagine.
On the Lil B side, we start with the weird "universe" posturing, where Lil Yachty aka Lil Boat (a very Lil B-esque nickname) is an ice cream truck driver, complaining that the cheap kids only buy the 50 cent ice cream, and not the 2 dollar ice cream. This is like... classic Lil B stuff, where you have an entirely fantastic situation, but the fantasizing character is stuck up on some seemingly inconsequential aspect of the fantasy, in a way that isn't really "conducive" to the fantasy. Like it's especially apparent in the second interlude where, Lil Yachty, speaking as a kid, asks him why he drives the ice cream truck, and Lil Yachty sorta shuts down the questions with like "So?" and "Mind your damn business" and stuff... It's hilarious, and brings about this sort of sensibility where the rapper is somehow not even in "control" of their own track... it's difficult to explain,
And the production, too, is classic Lil B-style. The straightforward usage of an extremely famous melody reminds me of the classic "Cumin From Da Unda". Shlohmo's wonky influence is in full force as he first underlines it with heavy bass, and then recreates the pattern with just the bass, an idea as viscerally catchy as it is hilarious. All the little touches that Shlohmo adds, the little vocal effects, it speaks to a meticulous, creative mind, one constantly thinking of - the echo of "where'd ya find that" at 1:30 feels DOOM-esque, which is about the highest compliment I can imagine along these lines.
It's this spirit of so much attention and care given to the production of even the most esoteric and half-baked ideas that I love so much about this new wave of hip hop. Like you know everything in this song resulted from him coming up with the "ice ice ice water" part of the hook, that that was the central motivating idea. This is the Makonnen school of writing, I think, and beyond the laid back, relaxing feeling it evokes when listening to it, has an easily imagined meta-story about its creation that is equally soothing: instead of some manic and difficult endeavor, you picture Yachty and his friends casually and socially arriving at it. Maybe some combination of the hook and an actual passing ice cream truck, or watching the video for this Makonnen classic? Whatever it was, it makes it pretty clear that making music can be fun, just as fun as listening to it, and listening to this is very fun. The way people can hate like this or this is baffling.