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Lil Yachty’s ‘Lil Boat 3.5’ Is A Second Helping Of First-Hand Embarrassment - Deluxe Album Review

Unambitious intentions can often be the root cause of the downfall of some of music’s most promising acts. The likes of many promising prospects have suffered from this downward spiraling trajectory, as more than a few are guilty of fizzling out due to avoiding the mantra, shoot for the moon. A particularly alarming instance of this complacency has effectively acted like the thorn in the flesh of Lil Yachty. Establishing himself by being the first out of the gates, Yachety would act as the torchbearer and epitome of a cultural movement that would inevitably follow. I found his sheer exuberance and cartoonish quirk to be a breath of fresh air, and a hopeful teaser to whet my appetite of what was to come. Unfortunately, the sands of time haven’t proven as kind as I expected for the crooner, as each release feels as if it only dampens an already flickering light - the only thing left separating Yachty from his faceless copycats.

2020 has been a notorious outlier for major artists, and for good reason, but none of this had any part in what feels like Yachty’s hellbent quest to run his career into the ground. Admittedly, I was skeptical heading into ‘Lil Boat 3’, and my perception wasn’t changed during the aftermath. Being the weakest installment of what feels like the last shimmer of hope for Yachty’s career, I was dreading what was to come, and just 6 months after, we have it’s logical follow up ‘Lil Boat 3.5’. Unfortunately, it comes far too soon after an absolute trainwreck, as I truly fail to justify a deluxe as it essentially acts as a second helping of all the same issues there were rife on ‘Lil Boat 3’, conveniently packaged as even more playlist fodder. If At the end of it all, I'm simply left questioning who on earth asked for this?

We pick up right where we were left, as the opening track of ‘Lil Boat 3.5’, ‘Lil Diamond Boy’, feels just as unfinished and half-baked as a number of tracks off of the original material. Having had my expectations permanently lowered by Yachty’s sheer inconsistencies, he really goes the extra mile, and ventures into uncharted territories of woeful, to make me notice just how hideous his inflections here are. It’s not as if the production brings anything salvageable to the table, as it all just feels so vapid and generic. Between its bog-standard hi-hats, and synth passages that sound as if they were sourced from a free “Lil Yachty Type Beat” pack off the internet, it’s got me feeling déjà vu.

Things don’t fare a whole lot better when Yachty, who is in desperate need of assistance, finally has his cries for help answered. We have the show-stopping trio of Yachty, Future, and Playboi Carti on ‘Flex Up’. It’s a Lil Yachty track in the same way the sky is green, as you might not even recognise his presence given just how deviously he melts into this clusterfuck. Sure, Future and Carti are bouncing off the walls with this electrifying energy, but I get the idea that the track would have benefitted from staying in the vault given how rough around the edges it is. Filled with all this pointless ad-libbing, and without a distinct hook, it feels like it wanders aimlessly, existing only to secure a star-studded commercial cross-over.

Though career-defining, and, when used correctly, his greatest asset, it feels like Yachty oversteps a fair few boundaries vocally on ‘Charmin’’. In saying this, he certainly isn’t alone in this absolutely criminal display of auditory mistreatment, as featured artist Cochise, acts as his accomplice as these partners in crime work in tandem to gnaw away at my sanity. It’s all just so overbearing as the two come off as subhuman and mutagenic without any complimentary purpose.

If ‘Lil Boat 3’ was the audio equivalent of opening Pandora's box, then ‘Lil Boat 3.5’ is opening it, and being conscious of what horrors are to follow. Let’s not kid ourselves. Both myself, Yachty, and surely at this point in his career, his fans, are all painfully aware he doesn’t have the substance to entertain such bloated tracklists. So, naturally, it’s shocking to see the presence of the teaser ‘Coffin’, make the final cut. It’s a worryingly short track that feels like it ends before it ever truly starts. With its mind-numbingly tedious bass, one of Yachty’s most uninteresting and unenthused performances to date, and a particularly gross twist on the idea of ‘murdering the pussy’, it feels like a recipe for disaster.

Yet another 1 minute and change throwaway is ‘Certified’. Built upon a spine of these ugly 8-bit glitchy synths that have been abusively mixed way out of proportion, it becomes borderline impossible to identify any other elements of the arrangement. Thankfully, we aren’t missing much, as a nauseatingly dull Yachty is trapped beneath the gushing passages. I’m constantly left feeling dumbfounded and left to clutch at straws here. It feels like Yachty himself struggles to stomach the creation of such low-effort and lazy tracks, which in turn, only leaves me to wonder what exactly Yachty thought we would gain from such substanceless tracks.

A large portion of these additions just feel redundant, as almost nothing here feels like a necessary addition to an already bloated listen. I get the idea that Yachty thinks he comes off a lot more cut-throat and stone-cold than he actually does on ‘Just How I’m Feelin’’. Sure, he checks the stylistic tick boxes with the eerie, ominous synths, but I’m not exactly sitting and marveling at the production as it gets stale real quick. Having Yachty hang his hat on the idea of Lil Baby plastering the vapid holes left on the track is among the last things I wanted from ‘Just How I’m Feelin’, and in practice, it’s even more dysfunctional than you might think given just how forgettable the song is.

Thankfully, no matter how scarce they may be, there is the odd, and I say this comparatively so take it with a pinch of salt, ‘highlight’, that interrupts my experience with ‘Lil Boat 3.5’ that is otherwise comparable to leading a dog’s life. During a point in his career where it feels like he is content coasting by doing the bare minimum, we catch a glimpse of the Lil Yachty of old on the infectious ‘In My Stussy’s’. Though not exactly anything to write home about, the track features Yachty’s slickest and stickiest refrains on ‘Lil Boat 3.5’. The real delight, however, stems from the exuberant synths that sound as if they were plucked straight from a Super Mario soundtrack, and a stand out performance from the magnetic Vince Staples, who comes across as a real breath of fresh air and point of contrast that I’m otherwise entirely starved of.

Yachty is again pulled by the scruff of his neck across the finish line on the track ‘Asshole’. With it’s splintering, emotionally potent chorus from Oliver Tree, an appearance that even in hindsight strikes me as bizarrely unfathomable, Yachty is given all the right tools to make it work, only to have his contribution consist of this tiresome awkward bumbling. I find it ironic that on the track where Tree and Yachty are concerned about their mistreatment and the toxicity from an unassigned ‘asshole’, I’m left classifying Yachty as the exact same, as it feels like he does everything in his power to make his boldest decision a hideous Jekyll and Hyde situation.

It’s not as if these issues are solely relevant to ‘Lil Boat 3.5’, or even ‘Lil Boat 3’, as it seems that with each release, Yachty’s identity feels less and less relevant to the original blueprint that made him such an exciting and outlandish figure. For those who managed to miraculously see ‘Lil Boat 3’ as anything but a redundant sucker-punch, ‘Lil Boat 3.5’ effectively acts as the nail in the coffin that only further demonstrates Yachty’s fall from grace. I’d call each and every addition a B side, but unfortunately, ‘Lil Boat 3.5’ is worryingly similar in quality to the tracks that made ‘Lil Boat 3’. I simply struggle to even begin to understand the appeal or need for a deluxe as at this point, it feels like Yachty is beating a dead horse. It's all far too similar, and equally as unremarkable of the bulk of the Yachty discography, as ‘Lil Boat 3.5’ acts as a constant reminder of the crooner's soul-sucking downfall.

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