As this album’s cover artwork suggests — it appears to show a restaurant table with one man drinking tea and eating baked beans, and the other drinking syrup — a full-length collaboration album between British avant singer-songwriter James Blake and psychedelicized Atlanta rapper Lil Yachty might not have been on anyone’s prediction list for 2024. But even knowing both artists’ predilection for the unexpected, it’s a surprisingly symbiotic alliance.

For years — and to his ongoing astonishment — Blake has been a featured guest of choice for some of the world’s top rappers and R&B singers: His sprawling discography includes collaborations with Kendrick Lamar, Beyonce, Frank Ocean, Andre 3000, Travis Scott, Vince Staples and multiple others. Meanwhile, Yachty was pushing the boundaries of trap even from his early days in the mid-2010s — and burst out completely with the full-on psychedelic rock of last year’s “Let’s Start Here” album, which basically did what its title stated: Since that album dropped, he’s made stylistically far-ranging songs with everyone from rappers J Cole and Flo Milli to electronic-pop savant Fred Again.

Which is a long-winded way of saying these two envelope-pushing artists are much more musically sympatico than it might seem at first, and their personalities offset — and lively up — each other well on “Bad Cameo,” their first joint album. Their singing voices, while quite different stylistically, are in a similar high register, so Yachty’s often-autotuned verses fit comfortably alongside Blake’s lush synthesized textures and ping-ponging beats. Here, Yachty sings more often than he raps and Blake generally leaves him to it, chiming in with otherworldly harmonies or melodic interjections, although he takes some lead verses on “In Grey” and “Save the Saviors”; and they even (sort of) duet on “Midnight,” with Blake taking a gorgeous verse that then seamlessly shifts into Yachty’s.

The duo have described the album as ambient and experimental, and while that’s certainly the musical vibe — there definitely aren’t any bangers — it’s more song-based than that description might suggest. Each song has a strong melody and structure; “Red Carpet” is partially a capella, with Yachty delivering verses over a ghostly chorus overdubbed Blake voices that carry the song’s musical melody.

The vocals are often heavily dosed with effects, which makes the lyrics hard to understand, although some ear-grabbing Yachty verses float past like “I told my agent I wanna be treated just like a slut” and “I rock more [something] Rolexes than John Mayer” (“Save the Saviors”) and “My dog’s hooked on ‘phetamines” (from “Woo,” which is basically the hardest-hitting track here).

Whether this will be an ongoing partnership or ships passing in the night remains to be seen, but despite its expectation-lowering title, “Bad Cameo” is a strong addition to both artists’ discographies.

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