PHOTO COURTSEY OF LILYACHTY.COM
I’m pretty proud of my clairvoyance. A week after outlining the best, most appropriate choices for the Drake Relay’s music guest, my favorite prediction – Lil Yachty – was revealed as 2017’s concert. And I stick by what I said in that column, which is that Lil Yachty is the perfect mix of fun, intensity and fandom among Drake students that will make this the most memorable Relay’s concert in years.
For those uninitiated, Miles McCollum, a rapper who records as Lil Yachty, is one of the most compelling young artists in contemporary pop and hip-hop. When I say he’s young, I don’t just mean career-wise; he’s only 19. He’ll be younger than most people in attendance at the concert. That youth provides him with an exuberance throughout his music that simply can’t be done by an older, more jaded artist. The self-proclaimed ‘King of the Teens’ is infectiously positive, which I love – although music fans who need some sort of conflict might look elsewhere for decent hip-hop.
Yachty’s massive debut, last year’s mixtape Lil Boat, is barely a year old. Many of his contemporaries, like Lil Uzi Vert and Playboy Carti, have saturated Yachty’s “bubblegum trap” sound to the point of overexposure, but Lil Boat was revolutionary when it came out. Trap music had been gradually moving more and more towards pure pop, with aggressive, spare Chicago drill combining with intricately produced Atlanta trap to produce the short-lived subgenre called bop (popularized by Chief Keef). But unlike bop, Lil Boat barely even resembles hip-hop. Yachty sings more than he raps.
The lush, blissful, melodic production of Lil Boat contrasts nicely with its booming sub-bass and trap-influenced drum machines. A number of euphoric moments on this project is staggering, like the Finding Nemo sample that opens the project and the unbelievably catchy nursery rhyme “Minnesota (Remix)”. These moments – the ecstatic romp “Good Day,” the video game flip “Run:Running,” the uplifting “Positivity Song,” plus many, many more – are the perfect soundtrack to the party-like atmosphere we’ve come to expect from the Relays concert.
It’s hard to imagine this show not going over well, although there are some logistical issues that may come up. Each of the last two years, Seven Flags events center in Clive has hosted their own “Relays” hip-hop concerts, but both artists – King Louie and Rich Homie Quan – failed to appear until hours after the show opened. Yachty himself, in his tour with Rae Sremmurd, didn’t show up for their Seven Flags concert last fall, although he was the opener, not the headliner, on that tour. Still, Yachty seems to care about his fans, and knowing the bands committee’s budget – tens of thousands of dollars – he has a lot of money on the line.
Perhaps most importantly, Lil Yachty is the biggest artist, in terms of sheer fame and popularity, that Drake has hosted in years. Hoodie Allen is a novelty act, 3OH!3 has exactly one popular solo song, and nobody even knows who Skizzy Mars is. In contrast, Yachty has more than a million Twitter followers, a Kanye West co-sign, and has starred in commercials with LeBron James and Carly Rae Jepsen. His song with D.R.A.M., “Broccoli,” nearly hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100. He’s a superstar, and he’s coming to Drake. Enjoy the show.