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Lil Yachty - Nuthin’ 2 Prove Music Album Reviews

The Atlanta rapper is a far better singer than he is a rapper, which is all too clear on his latest project.

Nuthin’ 2 Prove is why Lil Yachty should not be spitting bars. The best of his music avoids contemporary punchline-obsessed rap in favor of gummy, vibrant new-age euphonies—or at least it kind of does. Each of his releases since his 2016 debut Lil Boat has been conflicted with what makes Yachty pop, parading his lighthearted nursery rhyme raps, that, along with his crimson dreadlocks, have made him a favorite of teen hipsters. When he bellows and trills, regardless of what’s actually coming out of his mouth, the results are leagues better than when he tries to do his best rapper impression on songs.

Contrary to what the album’s name implies, he has a lot to prove lately. The streets aren’t checking for Lil Yachty like they were in 2016. There are rappers purporting to be cloned in factories and others using electrified brass knuckles to batter hotel television screens; having red dreads isn’t the definitive representation of risqué any more. Now, he’s just another slightly established rapper whose music needs to stick if he wants to be at the BET Awards next year. This uncertainty and desperation would mean that a title like Nuthin’ 2 Prove must be a play on words, to lull the listener into a false sense of relaxation while preparing to overload their senses. But the album’s opener, “Gimmie My Respect” doubles down on cruise-control Yachty. It’s a weird way to begin something absolutely necessary for his continued success.

The first half of Nuthin’ 2 Prove is obsessed with challenging his lyrical criticism with a surplus of leaden rhymes and weak deliveries. There’s no reason in the world Yachty should enter a song before the beat drops with empty, serious rhymes. Even next to Lil Baby and Juice WRLD, two melodic rappers who are able to successfully hide their weaknesses behind unique melodies, Yachty sounds drained of his energy. “SaintLaurentYSL” benefits from Lil Baby’s transfixing chorus before Yachty spits a verse in stop-motion that’ll piss off even the most tolerant of listeners wise to his ways. There’s no coincidence that the first half features guests on five of its eight songs. Yachty attempts to blend his stinkers with those of his guest features, with his own rhymes acting as filler in between. It leaves a sour taste in the mouth.

The silkiness of his robotic hum sounds more appealing than ever before, tempered by years in the industry to refine his more grating tendencies. And while his bars often fizzle out, his love-laced stanzas are well-crafted. “Worth It” is a nostalgic, soothing ploy for natural beauty, as he ends each line with a joyful cannonball that makes the next one splash with fresh energy. “Stoney” lives tranquilly at the bottom of an ocean, with Yachty’s voice seldom rising above a cat’s enthusiastic purr.

Even when love isn’t the focus, Yachty’s just better when he isn’t rapping at all. “Everything Good, Everything Right” is the platitudinous 2016-era Yachty that radiates enough solar energy to power the Lightyear One. Its carnivalesque atmosphere is mesmerizing because he can’t sing worth a damn, but his commitment to encapsulating an overly sweet experience with equally saccharine notes is just heartwarming. It’s a high point on an otherwise confused album that knows what it’s good at and what it’s not, and yet still chugs on anyway.

Nuthin’ 2 Prove is obsessed with the idea of respect as a measure of talent and he frontloads the album’s rap half with features from more capable rappers, hoping to siphon off some of their clout. This makes the atmosphere much more leaden than it needs to be like he’s banging a point into the listener’s head that isn’t quite understanding it. It’s a slog, but then you get something like “Next Up” which is a clever mix of melodic rap and straight-forward bars that is both fast and loose with a breezy air reminiscent of his past highlight “Minnesota.” It’s peak Yachty, perfectly in his element, sandwiched between blithe harmonies and light-hearted swag rap. He could have the world in his hands if he stayed there longer.

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