Photo by Matt Ty
The last decade of hip-hop has been polarizing to say the least. But whatever public opinion may be, various sounds and subgenres have managed to survive and grow organically, where their followings range from penetrating the mainstream to cult-like, niche status. But overall, the “SoundCloud era” has proven to be fruitful and detrimental in equal measure for artists, as for every success story such as Lil Uzi Vert, Playboi Carti and XXXTentacion, there’s Lil Pump and Smokepurpp to even out the distribution.
Yeat is perhaps the most recent and relevant “chosen one” from this subset of hip-hop and rap. Internet notoriety? Check. Famous co-signs from established artists who want to show they’re still in tune with the younger crowds? Check. Flooding listeners with consecutive mixtape releases? Check. If you’re playing Bingo, then get ready to call it out; victory is in sight! Add that to the fact that he used to have a “Lil” prefix too, and you can start preparing to take your prize home. But whilst these initial steps to fame and fortune seem to be very much the norm, Yeat has displayed some differences to his overall brand and music that might ensure he’s here to stay longer than some of his similar predecessors.
A post shared by @yeat
At a glance, you’d be forgiven for thinking the California native is just another autotune-infused, melodic SoundCloud rapper whose affiliation with rage, substance abuse and slurred enunciations makes for Groundhog Day in the Western commercial music scene. But Yeat seems to be thinking about the bigger picture, or at least, he’s ensuring that his music can do more for listeners than just a 2-3 minute breakaway from everyday life.
From inventing his own catch-phrases and slang, to references and internal debates around his relationship with the spiritual world, it’s clear to see Yeat’s appeal to a generation where the pursuit of infamy is the rule of thumb. His cover art for his “I’m So Me” project encapsulates this perfectly, as Yeat can be seen playing chess against the devil; displaying the proverbial gamble he has taken with getting into the music game and how he relies on his intellect to be able to succeed against a force that influential. Perhaps he’s playing the game in 4D, as he raps on “Stayed Down Long Enough”, the album’s 10th track: “We play connecting the dots, We get it right on the spot”. It’s interesting as well that his lyrical content focuses on how in the moment, and in the zone he is – “Up 2 Me”, “2 Alive”, “I’m So Me” – these paint the image of a young man who is fearless and knows no bounds, the perfect Gen Z icon in a sense. Fitting that the show “Euphoria” used his single "U could tëll" during a car scene with Rue and Jules, who were involved in a twisted, bout of honesty with one another.
What we can draw from this is that Yeat, whether intentionally or otherwise, has a formula to aggressively grab his fans’ attention. The music is a gateway into his life, which he’s painted quite the fascinating picture of. Yeat’s proven to be quite good at blurring the lines; he places himself in that grey area between opposing sides. Reality vs. Fantasy. Hedonism vs. Vulnerability. Physical realm vs. Spiritual realm. His morals and his conduct fluctuate throughout his journey and the fans can’t get enough.
It's clear that Yeat’s first steps have been successful ones. He has the foundations in place to kick on and really build something interesting out for himself and his career overall. The cult of personality comes hand in hand with the modern age musician, and Yeat certainly has the tools to keep the engagements and interactions up in both digital and live domains. But he’s at a crucial stage now where he needs to decide what he wants to be. Make the right calls, do the right moves and focus his energy where it needs to be, and he’s most definitely a name that will stick around for a while. But poor planning and a reliance on “riding a wave” can only take him so far. Even recently, we saw how Coi Leray’s album sales delivered underwhelming results, despite the social media metrics indicating high relevance. The thread below is one worth checking out.
The overall Yeat package is one of intrigue. Artists who disappear into the abyss usually have a finite amount of room for growth, but Yeat seems to manoeuvre a bit more astutely. He’s no stranger to introspection and critiquing himself publicly, per his studio sessions that keep his followers enticed. It’s this method of communication and open-ness, alongside his masterful use of captions, that have allowed him to lay a marker underground and take it by storm. The evidence suggests that he’s only just getting started and will likely build on this cult-like following and enigmatic aspect to him.
Playboi Carti’s “Whole Lotta Red” seems to have struck a chord with younger listeners and creators, so it’ll be interesting to see if this is a catalyst for a new wave of creativity crossing over into hip-hop. Yeat has had a strong start off the back of these trends, but I cant help but reference J. Cole’s “1985” song as a barometer to what I think will happen next to Yeat. The next stage of his artistic progression (if any) will determine which end of the spectrum he falls under. It’s up to Yeat to decide if he’s Arrived for the long-run, or fades away.
Written by: @WhosAria
In collaboration with Insight.