Though TDE leads the pack carrying Los Angeles on their shoulders globally, the city takes equal pride in its youthful culture fueled by the sub-genre known as “ratchet” music. The leading pioneer of this popular, minimalist sound has been DJ Mustard, responsible for unavoidable melodies not limited to Tyga’s “Rack City” and “I’m Different” by 2 Chainz. Both are hits that have made it possible for subsequent winners Ty Dolla $ign and Sage The Gemini to forge ahead in today’s market with their respective hits “Paranoid” and “Red Nose.”
Another accomplishment in Mustard’s still fresh yet flourishing tenure was contributing to Jeezy’s recent strides. Their collaboration “R.I.P.” made it possible for the producer’s protégé YG to reset his career after the 2009 smash “Toot It and Boot It” only amounted to a momentary sensation. To the chagrin of some conservative types, the repetitive and catchy “My Nigga” became an Top 20 charting platinum single last year, setting in motion the chain of events that have led to YG finally releasing his Def Jam debut, My Krazy Life. The culmination of buzz and persistence, Mustard’s signature whistles, keyboard arrangements, snaps and percussion are found all over this retail release, with his recognizable stamp transcending local trends.
More conceptual than the average collection of songs, My Krazy Life intentionally draws a cinematic narrative arc. This is a double-edged sword, as it ties the album together thematically, yet also introduces cliché moments such as the Notorious B.I.G.-inspired simulated sex skit attached to the end of “Do It To Ya.” YG showcases simplistic rapping along with the lack of disparity in his production, flaws that somewhat weaken his introspective, firsthand account mobbing with the Tree Top Pirus in the famed jungle of Compton. “BPT” is the opener where he shouts out his place of origin, using the alphabet’s second letter in place of its third to signify Bloods instead of their rival Crips. Replicating this defiance on the album’s title and throughout its lyrics, “Bicken Back Being Bool” (“kickin back being cool”) gives outsiders an up close look at this twisted lexicon that is natural to YG.
Paying homage to the ghetto’s intertwining themes of celebrating survival amid ongoing chaos, “I Just Wanna Party” tries to squash the looming threat of drama with its hook warning, “I don’t wanna hurt nobody, but I’ll beat the fuck out of a nigga.” Here ScHoolboy Q represents the southern section of Figueroa Street while Jay Rock puts on for Watts, the gangster oriented half of Black Hippy nearly seeking out dangerous misunderstandings. Influenced by YG’s environment and the days before he started pursuing Hip Hop, “Meet The Flockers” uses the talk box vocoder effect in his story of risking a felony charge for breaking and entering. This technique gives reminders of the innovative era predating the modern heavy abuse of Auto-tune, a vision further fleshed out on the aforementioned TeeFLii-featured ladies anthem “Do It To Ya,” which places an updated spin on Tha Dogg Pound’s classic “Let’s Play House.” These derivative songs display YG’s ambition to evolve beyond the limitations of the ratchet sub-genre. It’s a worthwhile effort were it not for him consistently missing the mark lyrically.
Mindful of his audience caught up in the cheap thrills of carefree nightlife, YG aims for My Krazy Life to achieve universal appeal by reaching clubs. The crass “Left, Right” is sure to please his flesh chasing peer group entering early adulthood, and the bravado laced “Who Do You Love?” should thrive among the Top 40 crowd, thanks to a solid guest appearance from Drake. Where these moments fall in line with the presently dominant movement DJ Mustard built from scratch, “Really Be (Smokin N Drinkin)” takes a sudden turn to stray from the script. Venting about stresses including paranoia and the pressures of fame, YG puts his machismo to the side to hold his own alongside a barrage from Rap’s leading firecracker Kendrick Lamar. This welcome glimpse into reality is uncharacteristic for an emcee most known for bragging on his hard earned criminal reputation and prowess with a variety of women.
While YG is guilty of glorifying his past centered on claiming his set and retaliation, the obligatory “Sorry Momma” attempts to rectify matters. Accentuated by Terrace Martin’s saxophone, this closes things off adding a dash of sophistication to an occasionally trite ride. Uniting to showcase more than the stereotypical regional trends that have powered their initial individual success, YG and DJ Mustard have seized opportunity and capitalized on proper timing for this formal arrival.
With the exception of “Me & My Bitch” (a tale of two way infidelity) wedged in between a festive midsection, the Pushaz Ink crew has pieced together a well sequenced and cohesive package with My Krazy Life, but this aspect and his street credibility aren’t enough to win over naysayers expecting an overall greater performance.