YG wasn’t a rapper I payed much attention to in 2014. I slept right through all the commotion surrounding the release of his debut album, My Krazy Life. The reviews were good, my brothers and friends raved about it, but my slumber went undisturbed. There are only so many minutes in the day, not every album can be consumed veraciously.
It was the GRAMMYs that finally made me decide to give the album an ear - people were passionate about YG being included in the nominations. I know the GRAMMYs don’t care about rap albums, but the people do, and the people obviously really cared about My Krazy Life. It doesn’t take more than one listen to understand why it was so revered. My Krazy Life was the introduction to yet another raw storyteller to emerge from Compton. The way YG put the album together is like a west coast gangster movie - his illustrations of partying, robbing, sex and paranoia puts the listener in the very room with him. It’s hard not to draw a line of comparison to Kendrick’s Good Kid MaAd City, both albums are based in the same setting, dabble in the same subjects, but are delivered from two different perspectives. A juxtaposition of the good kid that escaped the madness and the kid who built his world in the very heart of it. The Kendrick in the “The Art Of Peer Pressure” could’ve easily became YG in “Meet The Flockers.”
The success of My Krazy Life put the spotlight on YG. His popularity soared because of the singles, but it was the album that solidified him as an artist to watch. In the two years since he entered into the mainstream there’s been more than a little controversy swirling around him. The public fall out with DJ Mustard was much more than two friends feuding, Mustard was the architect that laid down the sonic foundation for his album. Another big event happened last year, the shooting that took place while he was at the studio. He was hit in the hip, a non-fatal injury, but it appeared that the bigger his name got, the more trouble began to surround him. Rap didn’t stop his life from being crazy, but now a lot more people were watching. YG mentions how the media focuses on the negative and not all the good that he does in his verse on Macklemore’s album. It was a surprise feature, but hearing his raw, unapologetic bark ignited my anticipation for Still Brazy.
Dropping an acclaimed debut puts an immense amount of pressure to deliver a fitting follow up. There’s no DJ Mustard feature this time, so it’s safe to expect a change in sound. Change is good for some and risky for others. I’m more excited to see the kind of narrative and storyline he creates with this one. His life is vastly different than it was two years ago. These one listen reviews are stressful - for a breakdown of what a 1 Listen review entails click here - but I'll only get one chance to experience the album for the first time, so I might as well document every single thought as it comes. I can’t stop, can't rewind, just live and react in the moment, but for a first listen maybe that's for the best.
Let me go grab a 40oz and get ready to twist my fingers up.
"Pops Hot (Intro)"
The voice of YG’s dad. He called him Daequan, I guess even going gold doesn’t make your Pops call you YG. He blames his mom as the reason why they still live in L.A. Short, but that's why it's an intro.
"Don’t Come To LA" ft. Sad Boy. A.D. & Bricc Baby
Lush keys with a light bassline peaking around the corner. YG is coming on smooth, WHOOOOOOOOOOOOO. When the beat drops you might just jump out of your skin. I love the way he cut the aggression the moment it hits. This is no fly zone music. Very west coast. I don’t know who is rapping the second verse but he is not to be played with. The aggression you can hear in his tone might turn the wildest tiger into a cereal mascot. They aren’t asking nicely, don’t come to L.A. Third rapper just made a reference to JFK getting his wig peeled, gangsters who interlope history in their threats are my favorite kind of gangsters. Gunshots bring us into the next song.
"Who Shot Me?"
This is paranoia. Feels like the walls are closing in. Kind of reminds me of when Pac got shot and blamed Puffy and Big, if you don’t know who shot you, your mind has to be going into a million different places. I’m loving the honesty. He’s recollecting all the possibilities, all the maybes, this is insane how he’s capturing the way his mind reacted to not knowing. Who is this singer? Nice voice. Very short. Production is hitting me right in the heart. Now there’s a heartbeat playing and the way he’s speaking is very Kain in Menace 2 Society.
"Word Is Bond" ft. Slim 400
YG is O-Dog if he became a rapper after Kain died. Funky. The sound is reflective of the West Coast, reminiscent of the past but very centered in the present. Boasting, bragging, juxtaposing how his life has changed since all the success. Loving the thumping piano keys, this is definitely an anthem that will ring off during live shows. YG’s album will introduce most listeners to a bunch of rappers they didn’t know of, Slim 400 kept it 400.
The first single, it wasn’t a big radio record but boy is it something special. Terrace Martin put the soul of G-funk into the instrumental. I need to hear this while driving a lowrider under the blazing sun, passing by palm trees. YG can make his life sound terrifying one second and like a festival the next. Maybe that is his life. This is a club record, a party record, a summer record, hopefully the album release will give it a nice resurgence. Is YG really the only artist from the west to really blow up without Dre? It’s like when Mac Miller said he did it without a Drake feature. Do your dance YG, do your dance…
"Good Times (Interlude)"
The sound of dice being rolled. Another narrative skit. “The homie convo turns into the money convo” the stresses of being famous.
"Gimmie Got Shot"
This has to be Dr. Dre, this has to be. Oh naw, DJ Swish is going crazy on the boards. Conceptually he picks up from where the skit ended. We all know a gimmie. I imagine the Gross sisters from the Proud family with their hands out. This is a short one but one of my favorites. DJ Swish is bringing back the feeling.
"I Got A Question" ft. Lil Wayne
It wasn’t released in full but this is the song that played in the trailer of YG begin arrested. That bass is infectious. YG’s flow always feels cozy, he leans into the pocket with ease, a style that works with the sparse sound that he raps in. “When will the police stop stressin me?” I feel like 50 Cent should be on this, I don’t know if he ever got the answers to his "21 Questions." Lil Weezy! He doesn’t sound quite at home. It’s definitely a different sound for Wayne. Good song, good message, but on first listen I could’ve done without Weezy F, even if the man is a living legend.
"Why You Always Hatin?" ft. Drake & Kamaiyah
The big single that came out before the album. Fun, anthemic, but it didn’t really touch me when it was first released. Just like "Twist Ya Fingaz," within the context of the album it sounds right at home. One thing about Drake, even when he isn’t the most impressive, it’s rare to hear him sound out of place. It’s chameleon how he blends in. Been hearing nothing but good things about Kamaiyah, this YG look might do wonders for her.
"My Perception (Skit)" ft. Slim 400
Another narrative skit…
"Bool, Balm, & Bollective"
Triple Bs. Sparse beat. How he sped up the flow on the first verse was a strong change up. The storytelling on the second verse is what I like most about YG. Detailing his sexual relationship with a girl that ended, but not on her terms. He plays the role of her brother calling him from prison. It feels like back when Martin used to play multiple roles on his show, it just adds a layer to the storytelling by giving all the characters a voice. While the song is about being cool, calm, and collected it’s under some strenuous conditions. Jay Z in the elevator kind of stress.
"She Wish She Was" ft. Joe Moses & Jay 305
Ha. Now this is wild. Expect to hear this one rattling out of trunks from Compton to Swanston. I’m cool on the topic of women sleeping around but I’m tickled by the hook, “She wish she was a nigga.” Jay 305’s verse is hilarious. Could’ve easily been the 2016 “Wouldn’t Get Far.” This is probably one of my favorite beats so far but I won’t be returning to this one too often.
"YG Be Safe" ft. The Homegirl
She can really talk fast...what else is there to say?
I love this build up, feels like something big is about to drop. Paranoia, madness, fear, the song is dripping with them all. YH's pouring out all these emotions over something this groovy. Feels like dancing to another man’s plight. Two stepping to YG’s krazy life is the new dabbing to Future’s drug problem. There has to be a science to making a serious but fun album. Easily one of my favorites.
"FDT" ft. Nipsey Hussle
Kind of surprised this track is on the album, but also glad it is. If Piru’s and Crips all got along…
Political YG would get my vote if he ran for office. Nip Hussle has been at it for a long time, one rapper you just can’t help but want to see win. The song seems strangely censored, little pauses, but for the life of me I can’t remember what should go there.
"Blacks & Browns" ft. Sad Boy
This bassline! Another politics-driven record. “I ain’t sugarcoating nothing,” this is a very real song. I think people will be pleasantly surprised by YG’s perspective. He spoke to black people and Sad Boy is speaking for the brown. Listen, listen, listen is all that can be said. You don’t have to agree with every word said but you have to acknowledge that what’s being said is needed to start conversations.
"Police Get Away With Murder"
The song started with the skit of a man being shot by the police with his hands up. The most monstrous beat dropped, this sounds like the beginning of a war zone. YG's not about to make this pretty. He alluded to Trayvon and Mike Brown I believe. This is a head spinner. Man, the passion in his voice. This is a man fed up, a reflection of the people in this country who is sick and tired of police getting away with murder. He’s calling out name after name after name of police murders. From L.A to Chicago. The list goes on. An incredible ending.
Impressive. That’s the first word that came to mind once I finished. The album did an excellent job capturing where YG is right now, living the lavish life of a successful rapper and the paranoid reality that comes when your rags become riches. Juxtaposing the best of times and the worst of times on the funkiest beats since To Pimp A Butterfly. There isn’t a song that you can’t bob your head, tap your foot or bust a smooth two step to here. I also enjoyed how “FDT” isn’t the only political-driven rap song on the album. He embraced the role of someone who speaks out.
There’s layers to this album the same way there's layers to it's artist. YG is much more than a gangster rapper but his gangster rapping is going to keep him in the spotlight. It will make you think, it will make you laugh, it will make you dance - what more could you want from an album? It’s summertime and YG just presented us with the soundtrack for the scorching hot weather.
By Yoh aka Yohtranada aka @Yoh31
Photo Credit: Facebook