One of the biggest recent success stories in hip hop was Kendrick Lamar’s major label debut “Good Kid, Maad City” – an album that, through tight narrative focus and impressive songwriting skills painted the picture of a young man growing up in Compton, struggling to rise above the violence, struggle, addiction, and squalor that surrounded him.
YG is *not* Kendrick fucking Lamar.
YG is probably one of those motherfuckers asking K-Dot where his grandma stay. YG the dude fucking Sherane when Kendrick was still working up the nerve to ask for her number.
“My Krazy Life” is basically “Hood Kid, Baad City” – it takes the same day-in-the-life structure of GKMC but it films Compton through YG’s own nihilistic, hedonistic sepia-toned lenses. YG could have grown up next-door to Kendrick Lamar. While Kendrick struggles to distance himself and overcome the world that surrounds him, YG embraces that world with a gleeful, self-destructive abandon. YG dives the fuck in with Loc’s on, two glocks in his waistband, and zero fucks left to give. Make no fucking mistakes, this is a GANGSTER RAP album, if you’re easily offended then there’s probably some Common or some Atmosphere in the next fucking aisle for you. The subject matter of this album basically boils down to; shooting motherfuckers, robbing motherfuckers, getting money, fucking bitches, holding it down for your crew, and getting fucked up. Fuck all that other fancy shit.
YG’s co-pilot for the majority of this ride-along is LA super-producer DJ Mustard. In pure contrast to the lush soundscapes Kendrick spilled his words over last year, Mustard strips the game down to the bare essentials. Shotgun-pump 808 bass kicks, repetitive, hypnotic g-funk synth lines, machine-gun fire trap snares all collide together. The beats sound almost like a warzone during cease fire. YG matches this brutal, honest intensity with the kind of no-nonsense street talk that brings to mind classic gangsta rap hardheads like Spice 1 and MC Eiht. There’s nothing pretty about YG’s language because there’s nothing pretty about YG’s attitude, nothing pretty about YG’s life, and nothing pretty about YG’s character.
One mid-album highlight is the home-invasion anthem (yes, I just referred to a song as a fucking home-invasion anthem) “Meet the Flockers” — in which YG gives detailed, step-by-step instructions on how to effectively rob homes. This song is presented with no remorse, apology, nuance, or shame; a purely mechanical view into the thought-process of a criminal, and the song is actually *better* for that – it’s stripped-down nihilism offering a degree of brutal honesty that a more self-aware artist would be unable to reconcile.
“Meet the motherfuckin’ Flockers
Make some noise if you’ve ever stole something in your life
Don’t be ashamed, it’s okay, baby
Make some noise if you’ve ever stole a dollar out your mama’s purse
When she wasn’t lookin’ while y’all was in Church”
And YG’s headstrong, violent exuberance becomes contagious. The guest list is peppered with similarly street-wise rhyme spitters including TDE resident hard-heads Jay Rock and ScHoolboy Q, coke-rap legend Young Jeezy, and Guinness Book World Record holder for “fewest fuck’s given in a successful rap career” Lil Wayne, but even the aforementioned conflicted inner-city martyr Kendrick Lamar gets in on the fun; spending his guest verse self-medicating with booze and drugs and contemplating sending his shooters out to ride on his enemies. Former Degrassi star and current relationship-rap-king-slash-stripper-saviour Aubrey Drizzy Drake Graham spends a belligerent 16 bars lying to women, paying off Criminal Court judges and prosecutors for his friends, and flashing his jewelry. Bitch, who do you love?
If you couldn’t tell already, I like this album. Like, I *really* fucking like this album. It has the kind of self-assured arrogance that can only come from not knowing you don’t know everything yet. The beats are fucking insane, and the way YG raps actually reinforces his persona. I *like* it when my gangster rappers talk more like gangsters and less like rappers, and the fact that there isn’t a bunch of silly tradecraft going on in his bars makes what he *is* saying so much more gut-punch raw and believable.