YG (short for Young Gangster) takes the drivers seat in the West Cost rap revival with his debut solo album My Krazy Life. The record is infused with the bouncy sound of DJ Mustard, and the subject matter is straight from the streets of Bompton. While YG lacks the poetic, spoken-word power of other Compton rappers like Kendrick, he makes up for it in a perfect balance of carefree attitude and down-to-earth subjects.
The album starts with one of the the catchy street anthem “BPT” – the abbreviation for “Bompton”, which is street slang for Compton. It asks “what block?” and the highly geo-specific tone of the album is established.
“Bicken Back Being Bool” also takes on Compton slang of replacing K/C with B (originally a way to show respect to the Bloods instead of the Crips) and turns it into a lyrical device. Taking a gang-affiliated mannerism and turning it into hip-hop gold isn’t anything new (Remember the Crip walk?) and YG does it in a way that’s slick enough to draw in middle America. Exploiting a local slang is basically a mandate for a young rapper from the West Coast, and this track fulfills this requirement in a fun and audibly smart way.
The TDE family is highly present on this album, showing solidarity of the West Cost. “I Just Wanna Party” with ScHoolboy Q and Jay Rock is a party song that thugs would feel alright head-nodding too, while “Really Be (Smoking N Drinkin)” with Kendrick is a slowed down, song to, well, smoke and sip to. The vibe is right on both songs, and they end up being two of the stand out tracks on the album.
The singles of “My Nigga” and “Left, Right” are pure Mustard radio songs, but when put into the context of the rest of the album they fit right in. “Who Do You Love?” with Drake is no doubt the next song to blow up, with a killer hook that ensure the answer is going to be “YG”.
One of my personal favorites is “Meet the Flockers” – a hilarious take on the Ben Stiller movie, with Tee Cee, outlines a new version of “How to Rob”, giving a step-by-step of how to scope and rob a house, with enough real-life references for us to believe YG has really been in Chinese neighborhoods with socks on his hands.
YG shows a little more sensitivity on “Me and My Bitch” and “Sorry Momma”. The skit right before “Me and My Bitch outlines the heartbreak of your main bitch cheating, and YG makes it clear he’s not getting hurt again. The hook is so smooth, even the very bitches he hates on are gonna feel it.
“Sorry Momma” closes the album with the king of Ratchet & Blues Ty Dollar $ign. This is basically the YG version of “Dear Momma” He apologizes for stealing from her, and extolls her strength. Hearing the saxophone in the background is a little off-putting, but he gets a pass for the overall sentiment.
This entire album can be played front to back, with no skips. Every song is either interesting, or danceable. It’s feels cohesive because it’s all DJ Mustard. But, despite the fact that the “Mustard on the beat hoe” drop is on about every song on the radio, these songs all feel fresh. It is more of an actualization of Mustard’s style than a derivative of a trend. YG is the muse for the Mustard beats, and it feels like his flow is made to go over the digitalized and syncopated bounce that permeates the album.