Yeat is a welcomingly singular, eccentric addition to the hip hop world, but 2 Alivë is an overlong, humdrum affair that diminishes as the rapper’s novelty wears off.
If one wanted to take a quick crash course on the popular aesthetics of contemporary hip-hop, they should look no further than the stylings of Yeat, a mixed-race dude from Portland who dons turbans and sounds like his vocals are the result of dumping Swedish lyrics into Google Translate and mumble-crooning the results (which might momentarily explain the overabundance of umlauts in his song titles, but then that would make him German, so we’re back to square one). Take a little of Playboi Carti’s rage music, add some Young Thug-esque oddball inflections, and top it off with some Future-lite auto-tune, and you get a general idea of what constitutes the majority of 2 Alivë, his major-label debut released a mere five months after his last project, the similarly titled Up 2 Më. Suffice to say, you don’t get much trendier than what Yeat’s been consistently doing over the past few years, but his music rarely sounds like a pastiche or a retread of what’s come before. He continues to find new and somewhat inventive ways to blend these heterogeneous elements into something far more idiosyncratic than it might first appear — a sentiment usually bolstered by his melodic, left-field pitch accentuations, turning phrases like “cum all in her hair” into “cum all in her huuuuuurrrrr” and “i’ma rip up the curb” into “i’ma rippa the cuuuurrrrrveee.” He’s also got his own lingo of sorts: “twizzy” naturally replaces twin, “tonka” is short for any high-end, wide-body SUV, and then there’s whatever the fuck “luh geeky” is supposed to mean. So not only does Yeat make music all his own, but he also speaks his own language; call it Yeatinese.
But for a rapper with an approach as singular as Yeat’s, 2 Alivë too often feels like it’s only going through the motions. While there’s a certain catchiness to the way he can string along a lot of nonsensical words and make something organically canorous — he once claimed that “if you break down” what most white rappers are talking about, “they’re not saying shit,” which is hilarious given the vacuous nature of his own lyrics — these are all superficial pleasures at best, which carry little long-lived enthusiasm and can be characterized by ephemeral excitement. There’s little to no structure guiding most of these songs, as they’re mostly a tornado of ad-libs and chorus that bleed into verse (and vice-versa) and cause everything to meld together into an indecipherable blur. Which in and of itself could be an interesting exercise in verbal command, but only if Yeat had a more expressive vocal range, which he sorely lacks. By the time you reach track nine on this 20-track LP — which contains over an hour’s worth of material — you’d be hard-pressed not to throw in the towel. But it keeps on trucking with a song called “Jump” — which has Yeat yelling “jump” over 40 times across basic-ass synth production with a basic-ass chord progression — and another track right after with a weak Among Us reference (“You is not real, you is an imposter”). If there’s anything 2 Alivë can be praised for — which has such little going for it musically that it might as well be classified as easy listening — it at least offers a strong argument that singularity doesn’t really matter when the end results are still this humdrum.
Published as part of Album Roundup — February 2022 | Part 1.