How do you define the word rapper? In fact, how do you define hip-hop? Now take that definition, and try and put Yachty in that box… This is where the divide in opinion becomes more apparent. Those who force him into a genre he’s never claimed to be a part of are going to struggle to listen to him. This is because they’ve already prepared an idea of what he’s supposed to or going to sound like. Once you realise it’s nothing like you expected, and it doesn’t tick the “hip-hop” boxes, you’re left feeling unsatisfied.
However, those who opt to listen to his music with an open mind, and expect nothing more than a happy 19 year old doing what he loves in his own way, then you’ll probably be more inclined to keep listening. Teenage Emotions is a grower, the more you listen to it, the better you understand his different personalities.
On this project, Yachty effortlessly floats throughout a handful of genres, boasting his eclectic nature. The project is generally all about fun and positivity, but when it does get dark you're never left feeling insulted or affected. He’s the overly ignorant, more staple rapper on tracks like FYI and hit Peekaboo with Migos, but then he creates the soundtrack to your favourite 80’s highschool sitcom on Bring It Back.
Once you realise that these songs are written and recorded as different characters it becomes a much richer project, and enables you to listen to each track subjectively. The fact that Peekaboo and Bring It Back are even on the same album together proves Yachty's vocal and lyrical diversity, but the calmer tracks such as Like a Star and Lady in Yellow seem to outweigh the heavier ones. If you prefer the happier colourful side of Yachty then tracks like Say My Name and X-Men might be a bit of a chore to get through.
It doesn’t take a trained ear to seek out the more polished and label-profitable tracks like Better with Stefflon Don where Yachty just feels out of his comfort zone, and Forever Young with Diplo where you can hear and feel the budget bursting at the seams. We lose that unique, clean rawness that put him where he is today and it begins to feel more like a product designed to sell.
To break it down, the album feels a little all over the place in terms of themes, but it’s not bad music. There are just so many personalities to Yachty's character you find yourself taking breaks then coming back. But I guess I have to think, did I know what I wanted to do when I was 19? Was I burdened with pressure from 4 million fans and a heavily invested label to create something amazing? Maybe Teenage Emotions is a reflection of being young, highly emotional and not knowing what you want to do in life. Maybe the album wasn’t supposed to be a strategic masterpiece with a story by Quentin Tarantino, but series of raw, unarranged emotions captured through an original style of music by a happy teenager. Maybe we should just give him a break and join the sailing team...