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When We Die Can We Make Better Music?

It’s been over a year since Lil Yachty released Let’s Start Here, a pivot from trap to psychedelic rock that generated buzz not only for its sonic content but also for its AI generated album art and Yachty’s controversial comments about the current state of hip hop. It breathed an incredible second wind into Yachty’s career, and since then he’s had a prolific feature run, collaborating with artists such as Miguel, Flo Milli, Faye Webster, and now YUNGBLUD. Once pigeonholed as a mumble rapper, Yachty has received praise for spreading his wings and experimenting outside the musical style he blew up with. Unfortunately, these experiments often leave something to be desired, and the recent collaboration with YUNGBLUD, “When We Die (Can We Still Get High?),” exemplifies many of the shortcomings of this new articulation of psych rock.

Let’s Start Here is a decent album. It has some catchy bangers. Ultimately, however, it’s distractingly derivative of the 70’s psych rock it was inspired by (particularly Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon), and Yachty’s vocal delivery rarely elevates the music enough to keep me interested. This bummed me out at the time of the album’s release, because there is a lot of potential for new, interesting ideas in the sound Yachty is exploring. I was disappointed that he played it safe, but optimistic that this could change as he found his footing in this new sonic territory.

Sadly, it doesn’t seem like Yachty’s attempts at psych rock are getting more interesting, and “When We Die (Can We Still Get High?)” is even less exciting than Let’s Start Here. Granted, I’ve never been a fan of YUNGBLUD’s dull, sudo-edgy pop rock, but a clip I saw of the new song on Twitter won my curiosity, so I watched the video. Oh boy.

This song is as lifeless as they come. It tries to be psychedelic without any of the weirdness or grit that makes this kind of music trippy and compelling. It’s lacking in songwriting, production, lyricism, vocal delivery, you name it. I feel a strange sensation when I listen to a song in a style I usually like and get absolutely nothing from it. It makes me numb. I don’t like it. Everything about this song screams Flaming Lips without anything that makes their music captivating and vivid. YUNGBLUD said of the song that he “wanted this moment to be a collision of each other’s [him and Yachty’s] imagination and sound.” If that’s what happened, they both clearly failed in that moment to manifest any imagination they might have.

The song kicks off with a bland instrumental and chord progression that lays the foundation for YUNGBLUD’s cliche, angsty metaphors about drug use. It’s a topic ripe for sonic and lyrical exploration, but we get absolutely nothing of depth. It doesn’t help that the video showcases YUNGBLUD cosplaying as a third Gallagher brother in a way that comes across as so self obsessed it makes me gag.

Throughout the track, the instrumental gives the impression that it’s going somewhere but never gets off the ground. After the first chorus, there’s a synthline which I think is supposed to be trippy because they put a bit of delay on it. At the end of the song, there’s an “explosion” with a distorted guitar that is as unadventurous as the rest of the production. The song is swimming in a dull, colorless atmosphere that feels manufactured, predictable and anything but surreal. It’s as big a swing and a miss as they come.

The lyrics might be even worse. The hook, “When we die, tell me can we still get high,” is patently dumb and devoid of meaning. Then there’s Yachty’s verse, which comes across as absolute nonsense. While this approach works well for some trap music that emphasizes a visceral feeling and vocal acrobatics, Yachty’s delivery is quite tame and doesn’t elicit any strong reaction, making his words seem like complete filler. The nail in the coffin is his refrain, “Come and do drugs with me,” a line that is so on the nose it leaves no room for imagination. Where good psychedelic music conjures a trippy feeling through morphing sounds and dreamlike imagery, this track simply tells you that they’re on drugs, without ever making the listener feel like they are too. I still hope that Yachty will go on to make more interesting music in this vein, but sadly this cut did nothing to feed my optimism.

1 Comment

Your crazy! Aside from whatever you think of the lyrics this song is the best I've heard in years. all of it just meshes beautifully . I have sat here with my ear Buds listening on repeat for the last 20 min. Why do you disrepect the musicians? You don't like the style.. oh well. I'm old but damn, your " review" makes you sound jealous, petty and ancient. I This is beautiful

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