Yeat Is The Future, Maybe
Look, I don’t know what’s going to happen in the years ahead. I’m not a soothsayer. I am, in fact, terrible at predicting things. Sometimes, though, the future seems to lay itself out right in front of you. Sometimes, a rapper will go from a name that you occasionally see while clicking around on the internet to a sudden dominant presence, a presence that you cannot escape. Right now, if you’re paying attention, that whole thing is happening with Yeat, a 21-year-old half-white, half-Mexican kid from Portland who raps in digitally distorted chipmunk-chirp chants over beats that sound like decaying, drowned-in-bass ’90s Nintendo-game soundtracks. Yeat is currently at a tipping-point moment where he might fuck around and become a star. We’ll see.
At this point, Yeat is young enough that he doesn’t have much of a backstory. His ascent has been fairly linear, at least by the standards of the day. Yeat started out posting music on SoundCloud as a teenager, built up a YouTube following, and eventually went viral on TikTok. Zack Bia, a club-promoter/Instagram-influencer guy who inexplicably has his own Geffen imprint, signed Yeat. In 2021, Yeat released two albums and one EP, and he got a lot of attention for a song called “Gët Busy.” Specifically, he got attention for the part on “Gët Busy” where he says that this song is already turnt but here’s a bell, and then some digitized Big Ben ding-dongs appear on the track. A few weeks ago, Yeat had a song in an episode of Euphoria. There are no left turns in that ascent. That is simply how things happen now.
Even if you’ve never heard Yeat, you probably have a pretty good idea how he sounds. (It would be funny if his name was an allusion to William Butler Yeats, but no, it’s apparently a combination of “yeet” and “heat.”) Yeat raps in stuttery, incantory triplet cadences, and his verses always sound like they’re stream-of-consciousness even if they’re not. Most of his lyrics are about drugs, and he talks about his own habits like they’re a badge of honor: “I’m sorry for you, kid, that’s just your life/ The amount of drugs I did today would make you cry.” He also raps about getting his dick sucked sometimes. He never flirts with any deeper ideas except in the idle moments where he considers the idea that he’s doing too many drugs. He’s exactly what you expect.
Yeat’s music sounds almost ahistorical, trapped in a constant present, but it’s not hard to trace the lineage of his influence. He’s part of a line that starts with Lil Wayne and runs through Future, Young Thug, and Playboi Carti. Yeat fits squarely within a rap subgenre that’s come to be known as “rage beats,” a glitchy/twinkly style that reached its greatest apex with Whole Lotta Red, the album that Carti released at the end of 2020. It’s a cheap, functional type of beat — the type of beat that seems to spring almost entirely from the “type beats” that have proliferated on YouTube in the past few years — but its cheapness is disorienting and sometimes even psychedelic. Yeat’s music is so busy and overwhelming that it almost escapes the orbit of rap music, flying off into 100 gecsian hyperpop realms. This kind of music is on the ascent these days. Yeat released his new album 2 Alivë this past Friday, just two weeks after his occasional collaborator Yung Kayo released his own sonically similar debut LP DFTK.
I bring up Yung Kayo mostly because DFTK is just terrible, like virtually unlistenable. 2 Alivë suffers from a lot of the same problems — the narcotized mumble-flows, the numbing synth-splatter beats, the absolute stupidity of the lyrics. Most of Yeat’s most quotable lines are the ones where he says shit that’s almost transcendent in its dumbness: “I’m spinning off these Percs like I’m a laundromat,” that kind of thing. I kind of like that stuff. I also like the bit on “Sorry Bout That” where Yeat says that he murders every beat like it’s Columbine and then pauses for a half a second before adding, “Sorry ’bout that.” I can’t tell if he’s apologizing for murdering beats or for saying such an inane lyric out loud.
2 Alivë works a lot better than the Yung Kayo album because of moments like that. Yeat is nowhere near a great rapper, and he doesn’t seem that interested in being a great rapper, at least by any metric that an old-ass critic like me might recognize. But Yeat has personality. He understands how to use his voice, to take up space at the center of these maddening beats. 2 Alivë is way too long and way too dumb, but at its best, it finds a strangely hypnotic space. Yeat clearly understands the kind of rapper that he wants to be, and he never edges outside of his lane. That lane is his.
Yeat has put out a lot of music in the past few years, but 2 Alivë is being positioned as a big deal. Yeat’s record-release show at the Roxy in LA was oversold, and police shut it down when some of the thousands of people outside the venue tried to push their way in. This must’ve been a huge pain in the ass for anyone trying to see the show, but it was a PR coup for Yeat, who got to talk about how turnt his fans are. On 2 Alivë, Yeat teams up with big stars like Young Thug and Gunna, and they sound like they’re visiting Yeat’s world, not vice versa. The stars are aligning for Yeat. At least in the short term, he’s about to be a big deal.
On its own, Yeat’s music isn’t really that compelling. But I’m kind of into the idea of a rapper like Yeat being presented as a big star. Yeat’s music sounds like your most dangerously stoned high-school friend sleep-talking over the music from Chrono Trigger. Five years ago, who could’ve predicted that?
1. T.F – “Olathe” (Feat. Conway The Machine & Roc Marciano)
T.F is a West Coast rapper who came up alongside Schoolboy Q. Apparently, though, he’s so comfortable with East Coast shit-talk that he’s ready to go head-to-head with Conway and Roc Marciano over a mythic deep-nod beat from Marci himself. Roc Marci produced the entire forthcoming T.F album, and it might be something special.
2. Omerettà The Great – “Sorry Not Sorry”
Within rap music, regional specifics and origin stories matter a whole lot. On this song, Omerettà The Great plays Atlanta gatekeeper, demanding to know the exact details of where the fuck you’re from: “What zone are you from? What hood did you live? What hospital bed were you born?” She then rattles off a whole lot of place names and clarifies that those places are “not Atlanta.” I don’t know why this makes for such a good song, but it really, really does.
3. Unexplained Aerial Phenomenon – “Georgia O’Keeffe” (Feat. Archibald Slim)
Certain songs just make you feel like you’re trance-floating over the astral plane, and this is one of them.
4. BabyTron – “6 Star Wanted Level”
You can throw 15 different beat changes at BabyTron, and he won’t dip out of the pocket or even sound any less bored. It’s inspirational.
5. Jack Harlow – “Nail Tech”
It brings me no pleasure to report that I’m starting to like Jack Harlow.