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Lil Yachty continues to carve out his own path in SF

Lil YachtyPhotos by Lisette Worster // Written by Brett Ruffenach //

Lil Yachty //
The Warfield – San Francisco
September 21st, 2017 //

We’ve certainly arrived at a unique point in hip-hop. As the internet continually levels the playing field for how artists release music, we’re seeing styles of a once easily identifiable genre become increasingly fragmented.

Case in point: Lil Yachty.

The Atlanta native turned heads in 2015 with his viral hit “1 Night” and has since carved out a unique following by turning his self-described “bubblegum trap” into, arguably, a completely new genre. Riding a wave of success built on Instagram and Soundcloud while hitting nearly every major festival around the world, Lil’ Yachty brought his crew to The Warfield for a night of bubblegum trap last Thursday.

With no official support listed on the bill, the venue slowly filled in after opening its doors. After the DJ warmed up the crowd by switching roughly every two minutes between today’s biggest hip-hop bangers — Travis Scott’s “Antidote”, Kendrick Lamar’s “HUMBLE.” and of course, Cardi B’s “Bodak Yellow” — Lil Yachty’s entourage, The Boat Crew, took the stage. First up was TheGoodPerry (born Perry Paris Moise), who was celebrating his 21st birthday, and at one point, Lil Yachty even came out to contribute vocals on a song and afterward led the crowd in a singing of “Happy Birthday” for Moise. It was an endearing, if not awkward, gesture from the evening’s headliner.

With a new emcee coming out every two or three songs, The Boat Crew’s remaining cast of JBANS$, EarlThePearll and BigBruthaChubba continued to make their way to the stage. Yet, each of them displayed a stunning disinterest in, well, actually rapping. As the DJ changed the song every 90 seconds, music came blaring out of the PA system with a backing track to cover for the many moments in which a performer either forgot the words, ran out of breath between rhymes or was busy grabbing a fan’s phone to take a selfie. Furthermore, The Boat Crew repeatedly counted down to the next beat drop in what felt like some sort of half-assed attempt to keep the crowd hyped.

Lil Yachty

Kodie Shane wrapped up The Boat Crew’s time onstage. With a bit more variation in sound than your standard auto-tune and trap, the female emcee brought a new energy to the stage, running from one side to another and ending things on a high note.

As the 25-minute intermission passed, fans eagerly waited for the headliner to take the stage. Pulling the tablecloths from the objects they had been covering onstage, it became clear that Lil Yachty’s stage design was a late-night talk show set.

“The Lil Boat Show” opened with a recorded message from Lil Yachty thanking the crowd for coming and supporting him. Subsequently, Lil Yachty himself jumped onstage and kicked off a 75-minute set with hits like “Harley”, “Minnesota” and “Fresh of The Boat”. With each track, Yachty demonstrated a sense of focus and vocal power completely set apart from the previous performance by The Boat Crew. Not relying solely on drop after drop, he mixed up the energy with more brooding tracks like “Lady in the Yellow” and “Peek a Boo”.

Lil Yachty has certainly carved out his own path in the world of hip-hop and with it, has captured the attention of an increasingly distracted generation. Watching him jump from track to track, the sense of excitement I witnessed in the audience was perhaps the most memorable part of the entire experience. Dressed in a variety of styles that triangulated between androgynous, hip-hop and hipster, it makes sense that his debut LP was titled Teenage Emotions.

Like many musical styles, Lil Yachty’s felt like one for the kids who want to demonstrate their weirdness and individuality. And for one night in SF, they got to express that weirdness. Even though Lil Yachty’s music might not be for me, it means a lot to many — and that’s something worth recognizing.

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