In discovering new music, especially in the exposing of new styles, I think there has always been—at least in my life—an immediate pushback from hearing something new and previously unheard of, whether that be in the ever-expanding realm of hip-hop, alternative styles of pop, and any other genre space pushing boundaries. But for once, with this album, it feels like there's something fresh without that initial wariness.
To this day, Yeat is still a somewhat enigmatic figure to me, where his style and presence in music isn't absolutely, 100% nailed down yet. His previous work, particularly on his 2021 outfit Up to Më, had some rising flair to it, beginning his personalized shift away from that Whole Lotta Red style rage he seemed to follow in lockstep with at times, but even in that record's fifty-six minute runtime, it still defaulted and at times felt a bit lacking due to the still-mirroring of styles. It should come as no surprise then, that Aftërlyfe, being eleven minutes longer, also has more than a few tacit moments taking away from its cohesion. But with this record, the utter eccentricity of what form its peaks without a doubt outweigh its length, with how unconventional and extravagant the album's feverish attitude is.
That style of the record and Yeat's ever-present vocal changeups feel like such a delirious unplugging, for the first time truly feeling like this rage subgenre has a unique voice, pushing some boundaries and giving a bit-crushed backdrop to a generation at odds with social standards.
Almost its entire first half, from the opening takedown of No morë talk all the way to Mëan feen's growling facsimile of some preceding moments, all have some genuinely thrilling moments that keep its length in tow much more skillfully than I would've expected. That's certainly helped by what seems like a preconception of the way the tracks split and transition into one another, but even in the few, less creatively shifting moments like Bëttr 0ff, Rav3 p4rty, and 7 nightz, there's generally something pulling them up even more—with the first and third it's the absolutely infectious vocal swings Yeat pulls off, whereas the second is so compressed and over-the-top as to be even more infectious than what its title suggests. Shmunk as the second track—with YoungBoy Never Broke Again as the sole feature on the record—works surprisingly well too, the two of them interlocking quite well on an instrumental classic for Yeat.
Its opening track as mentioned, along with the fifth track Nun id change, are without a doubt the most important to this first half though. No morë talk is a boastful, increasingly more enjoyable four-minute rager to start the record off on a great foot, with the mafia and devil ties that line the genius-required lyrics adding more to this shaky frame, based on life and death, the deals he's made, and what's tied him up in the position he's in. That fifth track though, is one of the most effectual shifts on the record, feeling closer to a hedonistic club anthem than the over-pulsating three tracks that precede it. And even if the tracks that follow it are indebted to the starting five and feel like they're in a style stasis, they still all come together well for a solid fourth of the record's tracks.
Unfortunately though, what follows is maybe the most excruciating part of the record, starting with a kind of out of place, sung intro on How it go, that—along with the "I keep stackin' bills like I'm Cosby" line—turns the song into the first true downturn for the record. Sum 2 do to follow feels like a slightly better moment, matching a bit with the second quarter of the record earlier, but its sputtered vocals turn it into a warped mirror image of previous high points, without as much of the discernable personality.
Back up and Split, though, are without a doubt the two worst tracks on the record, back to back. The former might have a similar lyrical amount and spacing as some of the better tracks here, but it's very one-note in its delivery, right as the instrumental in tow drops off too; there's nothing all that thrilling in the background to back up the repeated line of "every time they drop an album, all they music pancake, it flops". The latter track is the most malformed of the record though, bar none; its "I want Bentley, I want money" line in a slightly nasal intonation, sprinkled throughout the track consistently, along with the fuzzy, skeletal instrumental backing it up turns the track into nothing worth coming back to.
I don't want to sound too harsh though, because in the grand scheme of the record, the only truly lacking tracks take up less than ten minutes in the runtime—and the one-two-punch of Bad bënd / DëMON and Hëavyweight right after recovers really well. That second track mentioned is without a doubt in the running for beating the opening cut in just how creatively shifting and suffocating its appeal is. And past that point, there's only a choice moment or two that could've been executed better, ignoring the length of time we've been here already.
Shhhh and Dëmon tied are certainly good moments in the tracklist, but they can feel a bit lacking in execution at times, their ideas working a bit better in concept compared to how they ended up out of the oven. The production work across the final six tracks after Hëavyweight is maybe the best stretch on the record, I think tying up well with Yeat's voice as he weaves his way though uncountable vocal affects about his indulgencies, his vices, and exactly what makes him so enthralling as the character portrait this record portrays. Watch is a whispered highlight of that high life, a subtly cocky nod with those mentioned vocal shifts—and Back homë two tracks later does his singing voice much more grace, especially alongside the programmed strings lacing the instrumental.
Mysëlf as the closer is one of the most interesting tracks I've ever heard though; in the lane of this record, even its instrumental shift is unexpected, an almost progressive, rock-esque canvas for Yeat to wax more personally and emotionally than I've ever heard him, let alone another artist near his style and creative appeal. It's really a touching, absolutely beautiful moment, both lyrically and as a production left-hook, all the more fitting as a closer.
And so despite the construction of the record feeling a bit off-balance at certain points, and it absolutely being too long in focusing on the record as intentionally as this, I think it is still a genuine success, and is the brightest glimmer of artistic foresight and outlandish imaginativeness that Yeat has since released. It is a messy album for a messy time, and I think it works much more effectively in that vein, despite its slight missteps, than the sum of its parts.
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