Almost a year after releasing his debut studio album that sunk in ratings, rapper Lil Yachty has ditched his title of “King of Teens” and sails to shore with his mature second full-length studio album, Lil Boat 2.
With his bright red hair and infectious grin, Lil Yachty is known for breaking boundaries in hip-hop — opening the floor for conversations on confidence, expression and self-acceptance. While his style is unique, it lacks the combative elements that make a typical rap song. His softness appears to be a detriment to label Quality Control, which rebrands him as a more aggressive artist on Lil Boat 2.
The title, Lil Boat 2, presents the idea that the album is a sequel to his debut 2016 mixtape, Lil Boat. Yet the colorful melodies that imbued his debut with its success are absent from the new project, as is production help from sailing team member TheGoodPerry. Instead — using features by Offset and Quavo from the Atlanta rap trio Migos, YoungBoy Never Broke Again, Lil Pump, PnB Rock, Lil Baby and Trippie Redd — Yachty has upgraded his boat to set sail on new and darker waters.
The majority of Lil Boat 2 presents Yachty deviating from his “bubblegum trap” and pop-sounding productions, instead sharpening his flow and showcasing a more rough side to his artistry. On his previous works Lil Boat and Teenage Emotions, Yachty uses his platform to promote positivity and inclusivity. Lil Boat 2, alternatively, is geared toward volatile, moody adolescents.
The 17 tracks are instilled with themes of financial success and growth. In “GET MONEY BROS.” Yachty raps: “Used to ride ’round baggin’ hoes in a Civic / Now I pick and choose, I’m super specific.”
Yachty is rich, and he wants everyone to know and love him for it. He says it himself in “COUNT ME IN” when he raps, “I’m rich as hell, yo’ bitch love on me.” Yachty unfortunately uses his platform to reflect on financial success that resulted from previous projects rather than trying to continue what made his previous projects successful in the first place.
Out of the 17 tracks, “she ready” and “love me forever” in particular embody his previous, playful style, although they are lyrically more mature. Whether backed by a feel-good flute sample on “she ready” or expressing his emotions on “love me forever,” Yachty demonstrates his growth musically and lyrically.
This is a new side from the rapper — fans know him for his teenage boy pleas, such as in his hit debut single “One Night,” where he raps, “But I can’t have no wife / I just want you for the night.”
Aside from the tracks, Yachty’s album cover for Lil Boat 2 features the rapper in orange-hued water, shirtless and sporting gold chains. The artwork is gloomy, unlike that of Teenage Emotions, which captures a gay couple kissing, a diverse crowd of teenagers and a playful Yachty seated in the center, wearing all pink and sporting a bubble gum-colored grill. Lil Boat 2 focuses more on Yachty and how he has developed from just a creative kid who made music with his friends to a serious and successful rapper finding his identity in the industry.
Despite its generally serious tone, the most difficult part about this album is its lack of relatability. Whereas Lil Boat is innocent and focuses on the struggles of an everyday teenager, Lil Boat 2’s experimentation is tough and showcases how Yachty’s fame and money has shaped his new, irreverent style.
Yet that roughness is at the core of the album’s identity — Lil Boat 2 doesn’t ask for acceptance; it demands attention. Although it has strong and weak points, Lil Yachty’s latest work will likely go down as a redemption of his formerly capsized ship.