Faye Webster and Lil Yachty might seem like unlikely collaborators; despite Yachty’s psych-rock turn in 2023 with Let’s Start Here., his trap-forward sound is miles away from Webster’s easy-listening indie-country discography. But the pair have an endearing origin story: the two Atlanta natives were friends in middle school before they drifted apart as adults. In the years since their schoolyard days, both have established themselves as dynamic creative forces. They first crossed paths professionally when Webster, who started her career as a teenage phenom shooting portraits of Atlanta’s rap elite, photographed Yachty in 2017. They’ve since both grown into musical powerhouses: Webster has honed her particular style—an eclectic mix of indie pop, country, and R&B influences—to major acclaim, while Yachty’s experimental spirit has seen him try his hand at nearly every rap subgenre under the sun. Released on Jan. 11, “Lego Ring,” the lead single off of Webster’s upcoming fourth album Underdressed at the Symphony (2024), marks the pair’s first musical collaboration.
While their work inhabits wildly different sonic landscapes, the two artists share an irreverent, playful sense of humor that shines through in the track. It even comes complete with its own Guitar Hero-esque video game called Singsongorama, which the two play in the music video. With its whimsical graphics of animals playing “Lego Ring” themselves, the video harkens back to their origin story as childhood friends.
Webster herself admits that the song is a moment of lighthearted reprieve on her largely melancholic upcoming album. “I think I hit a point in songwriting during this record where I was just like, man, I said a lot. The record feels like a mouthful to me, but I don’t always have to be deep. I can just sit down and sing about this ring made of crystal Lego that I really want,” she said in the album notes for Underdressed at the Symphony. Despite its perhaps juvenile lyricism (at least by Webster’s standards), the sounds of “Lego Ring” are hardly child’s play—the track opens with heavy guitars that emphasize Webster’s distinctively twangy vocals. Piano punctuates the guitar sludge before breaking abruptly into a smooth, characteristically Faye Webster arrangement of pedal steel guitar, groovy keyboard, and bass.
It’s not often that the recording process itself significantly elevates a song, but the production of “Lego Ring” truly enhances its unique, bifurcated instrumentation. All of the songs on Underdressed at the Symphony are recorded in a live room, lending them a richness and undeniably full sound. The two arrangements—the grungy and, for lack of a better word, the Websterian—structure the song, alternating back and forth.
The sudden change of pace is jarring, and it places Yachty squarely in Webster’s world. Unfortunately, his delivery doesn’t entirely fit there, warbling uncannily as he attempts to capture the softness that’s so central to Webster’s style. Yachty isn’t incapable of meeting this dreamier sound—the opening track of Let’s Start Here., “the BLACK seminole.,” saw the rapper luxuriating in a psych-rock instrumental that would feel right at home on a Webster album. Still, Yachty’s voice, autotuned to high heaven, bubbles over Webster’s, whose vocals suddenly seem sickly-sweet in comparison. He offers support from the sidelines through the verses as Webster’s voice takes center stage, and the autotune melds far more seamlessly with the heavier guitars on this portion of the song than on the smooth pedal steel-and-piano chorus. Nevertheless, the discordance between Webster and Yachty’s voices only underscores the lyrics, as the two wistfully confess, “I know what I like / I know what I want / But you know I kinda need.” What the duo “need” is left unsaid, and Webster seems to leave the choice up to the Lego ring: “It’s a mood ring / it’ll pick for me.” In this space between desire and need, the unusual companions feel more suited to each other.
Yachty delivers the final verse, closing out the track with a bang. High, bright strings make the handoff from the Websterian portion smoother than anywhere else on the song, clearing the way for the rapper’s voice to burst forth in a triumphant command to “Melt me down, it’s sunny / My new ring stick like honey.” Both braggadocious and deeply sweet (“Me and you the dream team / Always together like string beans”), Yachty brings a mischievousness that counteracts Webster’s detached sarcasm, and his delivery injects the track with a refreshing jolt of energy.
While “Lego Ring” is by no means a perfect song, its weaker moments never feel nonsensical, as is often the case with collaborations attempting to bridge wildly different genres. Instead, Webster and Yachty complement each other in utterly novel and exciting ways—Yachty’s carefree demeanor brings out a side of Webster we rarely hear, one that’s infectiously energetic and uninhibited. Alongside “Lifetime” and “But Not Kiss,” the other singles from Underdressed at the Symphony, “Lego Ring” signals a new era of experimentation for Webster. While she may not have put her finger on what exactly this expansion of the Websterian genre will bring, we like, want, and need to hear more from this “dream team.”