Yung Berg - Look What You Made Me

Posted August 13, 2008
Tags: Yung Berg,

It’s been more than a year since I first took Yung Berg to hip-hop court. The charge?...

Look What You Made Me Album Review

It’s been more than a year since I first took Yung Berg to hip-hop court. The charge? First-degree over-estimation of talent; Berg claimed he had “beats like Dre, flow like Biggie” despite not having a single album to his name. He was of course found guilty, but a lot has changed since then. He still has a narcissistic streak, insanely comparing himself to Jesus in an interview with DJBooth’s DJ Z, but more importantly he’s absolutely proven me wrong by becoming a true force in the game. Far from a one-hit wonder, Berg has instead pumped out a steady stream of hits in the last year and now – finally – has actually released an album.

I don’t want to make too much out of a title, but when Yung Berg calls his album Look What You Made Me (and I assume that by “you” he means us, the hip-hop consuming public), we’re forced to view his album almost like a mirror. If Yung Berg really is simply the reflection of our own musical desires, than the question becomes not do we like Yung Berg, but do we like ourselves? Are we proud of what we have made? Damn I’m deep.

The first thing we’ve made Yung Berg is a radio-machine, an artist seemingly more interested in releasing a constant barrage of singles than crafting an album. The most powerful example of Berg’s apparent disinterest in his own album is You Made Me’s lead-single Sexy Lady, which re-defined the term “lead” by being released approximately 16 months ago. The same things that made Sexy Lady a hit over a year ago still hold true today: the pulsing beat, Berg’s distinctive slightly lisping rhymes, the catchy hook I was mistakenly convinced was sung by Tyrese (turns out it was Junior), but it’s hard to imagine anyone being excited by the prospect of hearing Sexy Lady again after all this time. The same holds true for Sexy Can I, Berg’s smash collaboration with singer/actor/one-man film crew Ray J. Sexy Can I was a monster on the radio, until it was typically suffocated by over-exposure. At least The Business, the Casha-assisted hit that’s officially the 12,475 song this year to use “the T-Pain voice thingy”, still has a freshness to its sparkling synths, but strangely new music is exceedingly rare on Look What You Made Me. By my count nine out of the album’s 12 songs have already been released. Which makes Berg’s quasi-debut effort less of an album and more of a one-man Now That’s What I Call Music compilation.

The second thing we’ve made Yung Berg is versatile. At this point half of Berg’s big hits prominently feature the word “sexy”, so he’s understandably concerned about being pegged as a limited artist. Berg accordingly set out to expand his subject matter and style, or at least his song titles. The most notable example of this versatility is the R&B jam Outerspace, a bouncing track featuring Berg trading in his rhymes for some vocals; or more accurately his vocals run through a computer program (there’s the T-Pain voice thingy again). Or then there’s Berg’s attempt to re-establish his street cred with the swaggering Do That There, a track that features Berg at his most adult, complete with a couple f-bombs. When Berg is in attack mode it’s almost impossible not to compare him to Bow Wow, so I will. They both have the same baby-face, the same slow-paced flow, but on a purely lyrical level I’m going to give it to Berg. Then again, out rhyming Bow Wow is like winning the 100-meter dash at the Special Olympics. Still, over the last year Yung Berg has undoubtedly developed as a rapper and it’s become obvious he has no shortage of talent - only time will tell if he can turn that talent into reality.

So what have we made Yung Berg? We’ve made him into an artist that’s understandably not that concerned with album sales after striking gold with singles and ring tones. An artist that will make young women swoon, an artist that has become famous more on the strength of his marketing and business skills than his musical ability. But maybe that’s just the state of the game. Maybe Berg has perfectly evolved to swim in hip-hop’s now ruthlessly radio-centric ocean. Well if that’s true than Look What You Made Me is radio’s first classic album. And if it’s not true, if a hip-hop album is still a testament to skill and originality, well then we've all got some serious work to do if we're going to make Yung Berg something extraordinary.

DJBooth Rating - 3 Spins

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Posted August 13, 2008
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