The Constellation Room (two shows)
If you’ve recently been to the Observatory to watch Atlanta reincarnate itself as this rambunctious, infectious epicenter, then you might have caught a glimpse of its latest buzzworthy representative, Lil Yachty. On Tuesday, Yachty returned for his first headlining show in the venue’s Constellation Room, which sold out twice as a second show was scheduled to accommodate demand. With the buzz, Yachty, born Miles McCollum, has accrued since appearing at Kanye’s Yeezy season fashion show, he might have had enough juice to sell out the big room.
Nicknamed (or evolved from) “Lil’ Boat”, the 18 year-old Atlanta native has transcended being background music in Vine videos to being streamed over 50 million times on his Soundcloud page. The March release of his debut, moniker-titled mixtape, Lil Boat, will have been downloaded over 100,000 times by the time you finish reading this article, therefore it is safe to say that the boat has harbored and anchored in our lives for now. His emphatic fanbases will see to that. These nautical groupies, called Sailors, arrived en masse to the Observatory for the double-header, throwing off the flow of traffic and parking routines in Santa Ana. Once inside the venue, the Sailors packed in tightly, only separating to form circles in which the rowdiest and ballsiest of attendees would jump. At its peak, the show would engulf even the meekest of fans into this circle forcing them to bounce and sway to the distinctive beats that have attracted the country to Lil Yachty and his shipmates.
Though being part of the Atlanta sound keeping artists like Playboy Carti, Migos and other rapper sporting QC (the label supports Yachty, as well) chains on playlist queues across the internet, Yachty has carved his own lane within the scene in several ways; his aforementioned ascension via Vine is just one of those. Yachty is further distinguished by his cherry-red braids and beads that make him the biggest celebrity in the world to wear the accessories since Venus and Serena made the big-time hitting tennis balls 30 miles north. The Kool-Aid colored braids bleed into Yachty’s sound, largely curated by producer and friend Burberry Perry. It’s been deemed Bubblegum Trap and the xylophonic, minimalistic sounds of Perry and fellow producers on the Lil Boat tape fit the description to a tee. The sounds justify the Trap aspect, serving woofing bass and drops that incited this small typhoons that rattled the venue’s small room, while the tempo stayed slow enough to summon “hits” and “dabs” - both dance moves that have come-up and taken off in the Atlanta Renaissance. On the bubblegum side, Perry and other producers such as Duck McFli incorporate what can described as Donkey Kong Country sounds and other low-bit dings and chimes.
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The sound plays on the nostalgia-crazed vibes of today that Yachty wastes no time in tapping into, as he steps onto the stage with mixtape intro playing; the premiere track samples Dory from Finding Nemo singing “just keep swimming” on a loop. For a short while, the crowd regresses to preschool age singing along with Dory as you might imagine a toddler doing during their 100th replay of the movie. Yachty embodies that childishness of Nemo and his crowd in his on-stage behavior throughout his set, as well. He splashes water on the front row of Sailors wearing a mischievous grin only worn by Kindergarten-aged children getting away with whooping-warranting shenanigans. The rapper does it several times, getting the same thrill of wetting adults without consequence each time.
And though distinguishing himself from the rest of the Southern troupe at most turns, Yachty juxtaposes his kiddy vibes with lyrics that match up with the gutter sounds of an artist like Skippa Da Flippa, who meshes well with Yachty on a track like “Good Day” which he came out to perform with the fun-loving Lil’ Boat. Over those friendly beats, Yachty can still spout lyrics like “keep that choppa with me on all times, these niggas be snakes” over his the beat sampling the Rugrats theme song, which isn’t so clear over the bass blasting from the speakers. Another has Yachty innocently reciting “now my mama think I’m reckless, guns under my mattress ” as he did on the last leg of his set with “Minnesota,” the high-pitched track responsible for one of the whirlpools in the middle of the room. Other times, Yachty drops the easy-going demeanor and shit-faced grin to showcase how technical his delivery can be when wants like he does on “Up Next 2” verse.
That glitzy dissonance along with his overall antics, including those featured in his meme-inspired video for “1Night” is what the Sailors have signed up to hear, as they caw with him throughout the night enjoying themselves as much as he and the high-yellow skin Perry, who heavily resemble the modern day Kriss Kross or Kid ‘N Play (Yachty being the new Play) when on stage together carrying out synchronized stage dives and joining in on a 2-man 4-step of which the crowd can’t get enough. Not only has Yachty powdered his fans with the lighthearted fun they love (one fan followed Yachty in rocking the hair beads, though he didn’t have the crop to swing as Yachty could just yet), fellow rappers are now recruiting him to bring his brightness into their world as was made clear when DRAM suddenly appeared to perform the Yachty-featured “Broccoli.” Yachty made waves once again following a feature on the hottest rap album in the country right now; Chance’s Coloring Book. Rap’s tide seems to be turning toward this unadulterated cheerfulness and we have Lil Yachty to thank for that. Just keep swimming.