With the recent West Coast resurgence in Hip-Hop it’s crazy to think that not too long ago many people were saying that the left coast had fell off. Yet new school artists like Kendrick Lamar and Nipsey Hussle, along with now-stalwarts like Game are making it feel like the early 90’s again when the likes of Dre and Snoop dominated the radio.
Piru representer YG looks to continue the string of coastal dominance with his proper debut My Krazy Life. The protégé of the current King of Ratchet DJ Mustard looks to flesh out his story from his past singles, which included the modest hit “Toot It & Boot It” and let us know about the Compton streets from his perspective.
1. Momma Speech Intro
We begin the album with (supposedly) YG’s mom telling him to quit messing around in the streets before he ends up getting killed by gang members. Short and unspectacular, yet it does set up the narrative.
2. BPT Produced by DJ Mustard
DJ Mustard laces YG with some sinister synths for the first proper song of the album. It’s standard Gangbanging 101 (pause?). Literally, YG claims his set (Tree Top Pirus) in the hook. He runs down his street credentials, with mixed results. Lines like “I’m a Westside get brackin’ in the back like what’s happnin’/ That 40 Glock snap like Insta, ain’t no need for a caption” pepper an otherwise dull set of bars. However, while he may not be a top wordsmith, the fact that he details his gang initiation and his 2009 arrest from parole violation makes for an engrossing listen.
3. I Just Wanna Party Featuring Jay Rock & Schoolboy Q; Produced by DJ Mustard
Mustard’s production style can definitely be characterized as less is better. A warped guitar pluck and a dark sounding piano cord (with Mustard’s staple riotous chants lightly in the background). Pu$haz Ink and Black Hippy link up to try and put the banging aside momentarily for the sake of a good time. What’s really interesting is the fact that affiliations are put to the side as well; YG and Jay Rock are both Bloods while ScHoolboy Q is a Crip. While it’s not the first time the rival factions have come together on wax (Snoop and Game did a whole tour together) it helps add weight to the theme of the song. Classic hood house party music right here.
4. Left, Right Produced by DJ Mustard
I’m surprised it took a few tracks before we got to the ratchet. Mustard adds some drums to the synths this time as YG implores the less inhibited to let loose. The kids these days would probably categorize that as getting ‘thots’ to bust it open. While there’s more than enough bass to get the twerkers going, this sounds better suited for being shoved through an awesome stereo system in your car rather than getting backed up on. Not that you should turn some twerking down, just making an observation based on personal preference. YG’s sophomoric pick-up lines about “getting that punany” and “dividing that ass like fractions” don’t help. But this song doesn’t need YG to be the second coming of Shakespeare for it to work, for obvious reasons. We also get the next skit to help move the story along to close the song out; a drive by.
5. Bicken Back Being Bool Produced by DJ Mustard
Mustard sounds like he literally went back in time and took some of Ice T’s beats and brought them back re-mastered. YG is in full Blood mode as kicken’ back, looking cool becomes what you see in the title, which follows the Blood tradition of changing the ‘c’ at the beginning of words to ‘b’s’ as an affront to the Crips. Maybe it’s because of his set, but YG sounds at his most comfortable here in terms of his flow and delivery as he details life as a Piru banger. We end with a skit of YG and his crew robbing a house.
6. Meet The Flockers Featuring Tee Cee; Produced by DJ Mustard
Mustard slows it down a bit and subdues the beat, which creates a kind of paranoid feeling. Which is perfect as YG details how to pull off a house robbery. Again, YG is not a strong lyricist, yet what he lacks in complexity he makes up for in confidence and a solid flow. He spits with the comfort of someone who’s sharing past details from their lives, not stories. This one could be from the actual incident that made him do a year in prison. Peep YG’s chilling instructions:
First, you find a house and scope it out
Find a Chinese neighborhood, cause they don’t believe in bank accounts
Second, you find a crew and a driver, someone who ring the doorbell
And someone that ain’t scared to do what it do
Third, you pull up at the spot
Park, watch, ring the doorbell and knock
Four, make sure nobody is home
They gone, okay it’s on
Don’t be scared, nigga, you’re in now
If the police come you gonna find out who your friends now
While YG definitely gets by on style more so than skill, he knows how to recite a compelling narrative.
7. My Nigga Featuring Jeezy & Rich Homie Quan; Produced by DJ Mustard & Mikely Adam
You already know what this is. The most offensive #1 single in quite some time that makes you feel equally bold and uncomfortable when White folks are around. It was this single last year that generated enough buzz for YG to warrant an album. Ignorant as hell, but you know you love having it on when you rolling with the homies.
8. Do It To Ya Featuring TeeFlii; Produced by DJ Mustard & C-Ballin
If you were excited about this project because you REALLY enjoyed “Toot It & Boot It” then this is for you. This sounds almost exactly like YG’s first hit except slower. You even get a sing along chorus at the end. Lyrically, YG sounds like he found Weezy’s allegedly non-existent rhyme book as he spends most of the song professing his love for cunnilingus. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with that, hearing, “I know I’m sinning/but before I eat it I say my grace in it” is more cringe worthy than mood setting. We also get some homage paid to the late Chistopher Wallace as we get a sex skit so awesomely awful B.I.G. couldn’t help but be proud. The chick being broke off proper is actually YG’s side chick, as the narrator informs us that his main has been spotted with another man.
9. Me & My Bitch Featuring Tory Lanez; Produced by B Wheezy & Terrace Martin
We really smooth things out here for the obligatory R&B track. Don’t waste your time here. This song is wack and finds new ways to be ignorant and offensive (“Pussy wet like you was Mexican” is wrong on so many levels). SKIP.
10. Who Do You Love? Featuring Drake; Produced by DJ Mustard
Mustard brings back the dark and grimey synths and Drake comes through with the assist. With the title and the guest feature I thought this was gonna be another song aimed towards the fairer sex; but it’s just uninspired bragging and boasting. While neither rapper is saying much, the beat propels the song to success. While Drake is clearly the more established artist, YG is able to hold his own. Style definitely made up for substance on this one.
11. Really Be (Smokin’ & Drinkin’) Featuring Kendrick Lamar; Produced by Ty Dolla $ign, Chordz, & Terrace Martin
Mustard lets fellow Pu$haz Ink artist Ty Dolla $ign do production and he and company give us a really trippy track for YG and Kendrick to spit on. Props to G, for the second song in a row he manages to let a much more talented artist jump on a track with him. Even more impressive he doesn’t sound completely incompetent next to Lamar. Pleasantries aside though, K-Dot murders the track and he’s vividly details how he’s been dealing with life, fame and the pain of losing his best friend to gang violence, all since good kid, m.A.A.d City:
I smoke this industry shit, to me it’s one big ass lick
I walk inside of a buildin’, tell the A&R nigga strip
Tell ’em I need all of my chips, my life been known Section 8
I’ve been a welfare case, AFDC pump fake
Meanwhile I’m grindin’ cause drug money ain’t like rap money
Four white kilo snow bunny, equal one whole show, dummy
I’m on this tour bus and I’m fucked up, I got a bad call, they killed Braze
They killed Chad my big homie Pup
Puppy eyes in my face, bro, and I’ve really been drinkin’
Why the fuck I’ve really been smokin’?
What the fuck, I’m the sober one
When I’m so stressed out I can’t focus
Hideout when I ride out, ski mask with the eyes out
Speed past in the Cut-lass-me and little Ocho
And we young nigga hop out
2 tears in a bucket, I feel like fuck it
That’s the price of fame, recognize my pain, that’s all I know
All alone, but I’m out here though
Call my troops like vamonos
I’m on this tour bus and I’m fucked up
I got a bad call, and it’s all bad
Of OG with my OG and some OE, but the tall glass
The west is definitely back.
12. 1 AM Produced by Metro Boomin
If you listen close you’ll notice that Metro Boomin samples Dr. Dre’s “Next Episode” here. The beat is dark and foreboding as YG recounts the circumstances that contributed to his life of crime. Unfortunately things go awry as he’s busted at the end of the song. By now YG is becoming trite and redundant. However, he’s getting production that his West Coast forefathers would have been proud to have on their classics. Mediocre lyrics with epic beats balance out to make for digestible music. Also, the fact that it’s under three minutes helps too.
13. Thank God (Interlude) Featuring Big TC & RJ; Produced by Metro Boomin
More gangster cliché as YG looks to the big man upstairs for help with his situation. The saving grace is YG narrating the story about one of his friends calling his mother to tell her he’s been arrested and being held in jail. Instead of the tired and random prayer at the beginning of the song (which actually doesn’t fit as well as I’m sure they thought it did) it would’ve been nice to flesh out the jail story. A missed opportunity at some real introspection. The actual verse should’ve been saved for its own song, not tacked on clunkily to an interlude where it has to be rushed. This had the potential to be one of the stand out parts of the album.
14. Sorry Mama Featuring Ty Dolla $ign; Produced by DJ Mustard & Terrace Martin
YG makes up for cutting the insightful rhymes short on the last song for the album closer. Again, he’s not covering new ground in subject matter as everyone does a shout out song for moms at some point. However, just because it’s been done before doesn’t mean it can’t be done well. The key to songs like these is being able to convey sincerity, which shouldn’t be too hard since you’re talking about the person who birthed you. YG doesn’t disappoint:
I’m sorry momma, I know I ain’t shit
I know I lied a lot, I know I ain’t slick
Your last dollars…
Yeah, that was me who stole ’em out your purse
(What?) yeah, I know it hurts
I remember days we used to go to church
I used to fall asleep, that shit used to work your nerves
I remember when you had surgery
In a wheelchair hooked to IV’s that hurt me
You’re like Superwoman in my eyes
You do a lot to be blind out of one eye
But you ain’t let that hold you back
You wheeled on your marathon and run your laps
I broke into houses and sold stolen things for you
I know that ain’t the type of things your son should do
You gave birth to me, I love you and thank you
Just know you’re well-appreciated
Sidenote: The Deluxe version of My Krazy Life includes the songs “When I Was Gone”, “Bompton”, & “My Nigga (Remix)”
Keenan Daequan Ray Jackson is only 24 and has been rapping since he was 16. Although he’s younger than his other West Coast brethren, he has seen and lived through enough to have a story that holds weight alongside theirs. Unfortunately, while YG is able to infuse his bars with the tangible authenticity that wannabe thugs crave, that doesn’t mean that they’re good. While he’s spitting grown man tales, too often you can tell that they come from a juvenile perspective. Also, while being convincing is a definite plus, it doesn’t always translate into entertainment.
Things aren’t all bad though. While My Krazy Life won’t grab a place in the pantheon of all time West Coast classics, it has its moments. Chief among them is the production. Mustard gives him a quintessential West Coast album than screams Compton like Chuck Taylors and Low Riders. A young Cube and Snoop in their prime would kill to be on these beats. Also, while he may not be on the level of a Kendrick Lamar, he proved that he can actually carry an album. With a producer like DJ Mustard to keep crafting him sonic masterpieces it will be interesting to see if his skill can eventually catch up with the talent of his mentor. Luckily the potential is there.
My Krazy Life won’t catapult YG onto Compton’s Mt. Rushmore, but it proves that he deserves to stick around long enough for everyone to take notice of a possible future fixture in West Coast Hip-Hop.