As a black guy who loves psych music (and plenty of other “white” things), fuck this piece and fuck Alphonse Pierre’s review too. I don’t appreciate being told that my interests are “too white” and born out of racial insecurity and a need to gain approval from white people. Jayson all but says that Yachty made this album because he is ashamed of being a rapper and by extension ashamed of being black. Who the hell are you to tell other people that their tastes and interests aren’t “authentic” enough? Who are you to tell black artists what lanes they should stay in and what parts of culture belong to white people?
Smug rap critics who pride themselves on being more “real” than more casual listeners took Yachty’s speech at the listening party as a personal affront but missed the entire point of what he was saying. He wasn’t saying that no one takes rappers seriously, he was saying that no one was taking him seriously. He was right, and he’s still right. The discourse surrounding this album is wracked with confusion and denial that Yachty isn’t the one-dimensional cartoon character that he was pigeonholed as. People are constantly trying to discount him by pointing at the long list of collaborators as proof that he has no creative output over his own music, or claiming that his influences are too entry-level for him to be a “real” fan of this music or that his take isn’t innovative enough (a criticism that rarely ever gets applied to established artists like Tame Impala or King Gizzard who aren’t exactly on the cutting edge of music either), even making up conspiracy theories about how this album was made as critic-bait to sell records to a white audience. Maybe Yachty made this album because it was a passion project he wanted to make, and he’s just a more interesting, versatile and multifaceted person than you thought he was?
People aren’t loving this album because it’s an unexpected change in direction, but because of the surprising level of quality, ambition, cohesion, polish, and execution from an artist they believed weren’t capable of any of those things. I can personally say that even after the initial shock value and reset of expectations has faded away, I think this still a great and impressive album on its own merits, regardless of who made it. Plenty of rappers have tried this thing before and failed because they half-assed it, got Travis Barker’s seal of approval and called it a day. Yachty understood the assignment, did his homework, got the right collaborators to execute his vision, and clearly understands what makes the genre work beyond a simple aesthetic, all without losing his personality in the process. If he released a rap album with these qualities, people would still love it. If this album had been an indie band’s debut, we wouldn’t be having these conversations about authenticity.
Critics should focus on judging the music on its own terms instead of focusing on whether listening to it will make them feel subversive enough in front of their normie friends.