Early last year, it seemed as if Memphis rapper Pooh Shiesty had been elevated to the top of the charts out of nowhere – save for having seen buzz around his name a couple times online. Scoring a top 5 debut with what is only his second studio album, although he has been highly prolific with other releases, it seems like the early-year hip-hop success of 2022 is none other than Oregon’s own Yeat – and yes, that name does refer to a combination between “yeet” and “heat.” His style, however, couldn’t be more different. There might not be a better example of Gen-Z music trends. Heavily inspired by Playboi Carti’s Whole Lotta Red, which just might be the most influential album to have come out in years, Yeat’s approach sees him release a new project every couple of months, grabbing 20 digitized, chiptuney “rage beats” and rambling just about whatever comes to mind in a stream of consciousness filtered through heavy Auto-Tune. It’s spacey, psychedelic, and taps into an animalistic part of the brain, and it would likely go over extremely well in certain circles and environments. While there are a couple highlights here where the bug-eyed glee with which you’re meant to consume this does come out, for the most part, Yeat’s mind is something that this particular reviewer has a difficult time tapping into and most of the album blends into a mind-numbing sludge.
As soon as you hit play on the album, Yeat becomes the instant gratification culture personified. Build-up is a foreign concept to this man. A single beat hits on “Poppin,” and Yeat drawls “I need my drugs.” The project’s first two tracks are either its best, or as much of Yeat’s gimmick as I could tolerate. The bubbly, speedy 8-bit arpeggios feel like one of the more distinguishable beats here, hitting the same brain-rewiring dopamine blasts as the addicting fizz of a carbonated drink on the tongue. Yeat brings a more melodic and rhythmic approach here as well, most of the time seeming like he’s barely conscious and coherent enough to function. Young Thug is a great addition to “Outsidë” as well, his eccentricities working a lot better than Yeat’s because he has a degree of charisma and intention that Yeat lacks. There are certain aspects of what he does that make it easy to see what people connect to: the haphazard, falsetto vocalizations in the background, the complete disregard for any kind of structure and order, even self-imposed. But an hour of it is a nightmare.
As soon as you hit “Rëal six,” the album takes a sharp nosedive. The similarities of the beats already making me feel like I’m locked in a mental asylum as the exact same tones and palates keep coming back. Yeat babbles away through awful-sounding filters, his wall of ad-libs throwing off the rhythms and leaving guttural throat sounds in the mix to complement a tone that sounds like he’s being strangled. He certainly shows that he’s a vocal chameleon of sorts, dropping into a lower tone on “Nvr again,” but it doesn’t matter much when he doesn’t make an iota of an attempt to be musical with any of them. On “Luh gëek,” he happily bellows that he doesn’t brush his teeth.
People have compared Yeat’s sensory overload to hyperpop acts like 100 gecs, but the difference is that those acts seem like they have a knowledge of the tropes extensive enough to have fun flipping them upside down. Yeat seems like he shows up and makes it all up as he goes. On “Rollin,” he says “Every time I ain’t give a s**t, I still went number one.” His complete lack of ambition paints him as an extremely unlikeable character, and as he issues sing-song chants like “everything I’m doing is just better than you,” on the aptly titled “Jus bëtter,” it seems like he can’t even flex right. Yeat is even going through the motions when it comes to saying how cool he is – of course, that’s just what’s socially mandated in his generation. He was the lucky one to hit the algorithm doing it.
Yeat’s improvisatory attitude might have been fine if he was still able to flip it into something memorable, but tracks like “On tha linë,” “Rackz got më,” which features a mind-numbingly repetitive showing from Gunna, and “Doublë,” which hits a new level of torture with a beat of overlapping sirens and obnoxious vocal layering, are more so to scroll past on TikTok, hit that instant gratification, and forget about immediately. It’s a pretty sad and scary indictment of where content creation is going, and the value of creative work. “Jump,” at least, is an appropriately repetitive rave anthem with a decent beat, but for the most part it just seems like music is a vessel for Yeat to bellow whatever concerns himself and his own satisfaction, because that’s what keeps the cash rolling in. He knows no outside perception will affect his rise to the top, after all.
As the album progresses into its second half, the tracks begin to lose any sense of distinguishable quality as they all blend together into a hypnotic purgatory. For the most part, Yeat’s music has zero sense of vibe, pocket, or anything to catch. You can’t even nod your head to his music, let alone dance to it – the only thing to do is stare, spaced-out into nothingness. For all the talk about how Yeat is the future of where music is going, it’s jarring that there’s almost nothing new about him. The novelty is him pushing an already-desensitized sound made by somebody else even further out into complete incoherence, but he’s still piggybacking off of a trend, and hitting a checklist of rap tropes to talk about on the way, mixing in a couple questionable, disgusting and downright concerning bars along the way. He has a track called “Taliban” where he boasts about rolling with them, and I’m unsure if he actually knows what the Taliban is. The slightly buzzy filter he often applies to his vocals combines with a rhythm-free avalanche of words to make the album experience feel like a constant mosquito drone that lasts more than an hour. Yung Kayo provides the only respite on “Narcoticz,” bringing a hungry flow that sounds like he actually wants to be there, but Yeat’s performance is one of the most stomach-churning as he leans even harder into his Chipmunk filters.
The album winds down with another run of 5 tracks featuring more stupefying baby-voiced vocalizations, oversharing of literally off-beat and off-colour information, and a claim that he’s Satan himself’s favourite musician. I highly doubt that … while he’s hopefully looking at adding Yeat to his list for making me sit through this project twice, the lord of all evil probably searches out something with a little more bite and intention when making his Spotify playlists. It’s hard to imagine anyone caring deeply or being inspired by anything here – this is more so marketing than music.
Favourite Tracks: Poppin, Outsidë
Least Favourite Track: Call Më