by Connor Friday
Lil Yachty’s Nuthin’ 2 Prove is here, and he’s got a lot to prove. Yachty may have been at the forefront of the hip-hop scene 2 years ago, but since his collaborations with DRAM on “Broccoli,” and Kyle on “iSpy,” he’s struggled. With his previous two projects, the self-proclaimed “King of Teens” failed to tap into the fervent teenage fan base that propelled him to stardom. On his newest project, there are hints of the Yachty who captured the ears of millions, but he’s still trying to find his way back.
Yachty has repeatedly said that he is “not a rapper,” but he sure seems like he’s trying to be one. Opening his project with “Gimme My Respect,” “Get Dripped,” and “I’m the Mac,” Yachty seems like he is desperately trying to prove himself as a rapper. It doesn’t work. In these songs, his lyrics are subpar, immature, and uncreative. Yachty plays Mad Libs, inserting phrases like “beat from the back,” “slime,” and “ice” whenever he has to fill in a blank. On “I’m the Mac,” Yachty barely does more than mumble “I’m the mac” for two minutes over a simple trap beat.
Nuthin’ 2 Prove isn’t the worst, but it takes some time to get to the good stuff. “Yacht Club” gives Juice WRLD a chance to shine, and he vibes well with Yachty. The track bounces lines back and forth between the two artists as they continue to build off of each other. But the real heart of this album is a string of 4 tracks in the middle. On “Worth It,” we hear some of the heavily autotuned vocals that put Yachty on the map, combined with extremely tight production from Javar Rockamore and a surprisingly mature message about body confidence. We see a new side of Yachty on this track; someone who isn’t afraid to subvert the misogyny that, sadly, has become woven into the culture of hip-hop. Rockamore, a young, up-and-coming producer out of Memphis, does well to package the message for Yachty’s audience. He supports Yachty’s vocals with light synth accents, keeping the tone of the track fun, but sincere. Yachty continues his return to form, staying light over grooving hi-hats, and avoiding the monotonous bass that drowned out the first half of the album on “Everything Good, Everything Right” and “Next Up.” Finally, “Forever World” strikes an interesting balance between Trippie Redd’s crooning and Yachty’s grounded melodic rapping.
This is the Yachty the world wants—the one it needs—but Yachty spends too much of the album trying to be someone he’s not. He is an artist who’s here to have fun; an artist who isn’t afraid to go against the grain. An artist who isn’t afraid to take a stand against the toxic masculinity in hip-hop. An artist who doesn’t care if the world thinks he’s “hard” enough to be a rapper. An artist who is a little bit weird, and okay with it. That’s the Yachty the world’s teens fell in love with.
Yachty has failed to recapture the joy and enthusiasm that led to his stardom in the first place. No one liked Yachty because he was a hardcore rapper; people liked him because he didn’t take himself too seriously. His care-free attitude is what made his music unique. But he is in danger of losing this by trying to hide behind a list of features that include some of modern hip-hop’s biggest stars. If Lil Yachty wants to regain the adoration of his teenage fans around the world, he needs to go back to doing his own thing.