Art by Anton Mak
Dan from the Internet still hates the band fun.
Some things are best enjoyed when you don’t listen to them too closely. Trap music and teenagers fall into that category. Cynicism and depth are for sophomore albums and people in their mid-20s. Rappers Desiigner and Lil Yacthy, age 19 and 18 respectively, seem to understand this. Both have received a large amount of unwarranted criticism relatively fast. Criticism based more in how hyper compressed the timeline between “obscurity” and “relevance” has become, than the actual music. Desiigner’s New English and Yachty’s Summer Songs 2 take the two pillars of trap music, vocal manipulation and repetition, and wring every ounce of ingenuity out of them. The results are equal parts annoying and fantastic.
Desiigner and Yachty consistently make middling to great music despite not being very good at rapping. You can learn to be a good rapper at any point in your career, but learning how to make aesthetically pleasing and emotionally resonant music is a skill. Yachty on Summer Songs 2 is the better songwriter of the two. If you’re looking for an excellent 16 bars on this Summer Songs 2 you’re missing the point.
Lil Yachty’s songs are stronger when taken as a whole than they are under the microscope. “Such Ease,” “So Many People,” “IDK,” “King of the Teens,” “Why? (Interlude),” and “Intro (First Day of Summer)” are the album’s best songs. Yachty is a talented crooner. When he moans, “We no longer live the same life no more, I remember nights we slept on the floor…we survive through the breeze with such ease” his talent seems tangible. It is when he tries to rap that his persona falls apart. Offset of the Migos delivers the best verse on the entire mixtape and next to him Yachty’s voice is so cringe worthy that the criticisms against him almost seem fair.
New English is the weaker project of the two. Only 5 of the album’s 14 tracks are actually listenable and one of those is “Panda.” Yet Desiigner is easily the less annoying of the two. His gruff bass is a natural fit over trap beats in contrast to Yachty’s yelp. The album’s biggest weakness is that it sounds like Mike Dean and Desiigner typed “Metro Boomin Like beats” into Soundclick and randomly picked the first 14 beats. The underwhelming production puts Desiigner at the forefront of every song, which is a showcase for his glaring weaknesses and strengths.
If you have the time rearrange the album into: “Interlude 1,” “Talk Regardless,” “Roll Wit Me,” “Timmy Turner,” “Interlude 2,” “Overnight,” “Zombie Walk,” and “Panda,” the record is a lot easier to digest. G.O.OD. Music should have packaged New English as an EP that leans into the horror aspects of Desiigner’s sound rather than the trap influences. This would have done wonders for differentiating him from that other guy.
Desiigner definitely has an original take on trap music when given the right production. His vocal performances on “Overnight” and “Timmy Turner” are evidence of that. Desiigner’s future seems bright because there is no clear indication of how high his ceiling is. He’s a blank slate at this point who delivered a second hit single when the whole world was watching.
Desiigner and Lil Yachty make compelling music — your own level of enjoyment is going to be totally dependent on whether or not you care how that music is made or how much you value originality. Arguing about authenticity in 2016 is pointless but that has seemed to hijack the narrative away from the actual product. Desiigner is a likable kid who sometimes makes hit music despite the rampant cynicism surrounding him. The undeniability of “Timmy Turner” should be more than enough to separate his narrative from whatshisface. Lil Yachty is a rapper maturing into his own and Songs for Summer 2 is probably my favorite mixtape we’ve gotten in 2016. The criticisms against the two are largely arbitrary, this is fun music for dumb times.