50 Cent said in a Breakfast Club interview, “Hip-hop consumers are fiends, they will cop from anyone that has something good.”
I agree with the New York veteran and right now, the fiends are getting their supply from the other side of the U.S. The West Coast hip-hop scene is cooking up some of the best musical crack and one of the main drug lords is YG. Compton’s own Young Gangsta and his respectable side-kick producer DJ Mustard have been releasing street-party anthems that remind fans of classic Los Angeles gangsta rap, but in its newest form. After five mixtapes, a platinum song and Young Jeezy as his boss, YG decided to drop his debut album My Krazy Life.
In 2012, Kendrick Lamar named his album good kid, m.A.A.d city, which is about a good-hearted teen trying to fit in to a gang-infested city. YG’s album might as well be named “Bad Kid, Pissed-Off City”, because it sounds like he was one of the gang-banging homies who was a bad influence and made Kendrick think twice about the hood. From track 1 to 14, listeners spend a day with YG as he reps his neighborhood, commits a home invasion, parties, charms the females, cheats on his girlfriend, finds out his girl cheated on him, parties again, robs a few bustas and ends up in jail trying to call his mother.
The greatest thing about this album is that it’s structured like an audio movie. A hyped-up beginning, songs that build character development, some conflict, a turning point and a conclusion. With the help of a carefully ordered track-list, skits and clever storytelling, My Krazy Life makes for one great concept album. And just like any good flick, the main character goes through situations that YG impressively showcases on this LP.
The storytelling is the highlight of this album. YG is famously known for his “ratchet” party music, but this project proves that he can do so much more. He successfully crafts first-person street tales that bleed authenticity. The first verse does a fantastic job intro-ing the album. “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” are the opening lines to “BPT”, which is about YG going through a gang initiation. Another example is “Meet the Flockers”, which is about residential burglary. Very similar to The Notorious B.I.G.’s “Ten Crack Commandments”, the song has brash lines that put me in the artist’s mind state. The first lines are “First, you find a house and scope it out / Find a Chinese neighborhood, ‘cause they don’t believe in bank accounts” which to my knowledge hasn’t been said on record before, but the narrative sounds so real and hints that YG has actually done this. Which according to public record is true.
The beats make a perfect score by emphasizing Cali’s signature sound of whiny, stretched-out synths and in-your-face piano keys that back up YG’s street lyrics. Mustard’s production in particular incorporates a fast club tempo bounce that will either have listeners dancing or blowing out their stock car speakers. The production’s very hard-hitting and doesn’t compromise YG’s gangsta rap aesthetic for the sake of top 40 hits and radio play.
The thing I can’t get over about this album is a lot of songs don’t reach their max potential because they don’t seem full. What I mean is a lot of the records have a chorus-verse-chorus-verse-chorus structure that gets mundane after so many listens. With seven guest rappers over a span of 14 songs, you’ll only hear YG rapping twice if not once per song. There are songs like “1AM”, “Bicken Back Being Bool” and “Who Do You Love?” that seem to end too abruptly and would be better if YG had done a third verse to round it out. Overall, My Krazy Life bangs; it is a summer necessity and will most likely stay in my car’s CD player for a long time. In my best Ice Cube impression, “Weesssst siiiiddeee!!”