YG – My Krazy Life (Extended Review)

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My Krazy Life surprised me in many ways. To start, I would have never expected something this progressive in a musical sense and solid in a narrative sense to come from a dude like YG, whose debut single was most eloquently entitled “Toot It and Boot It.” I didn’t expect songs titled “Me and My Bitch” and “Do It To Ya” to be pulled off in a soulful and seemingly compassionate way. I didn’t think there would be this many memorable and compelling guest verses on a project that is by all measures autobiographical. Compton rapper YG’s previous mixtapes and projects never really impressed. I wouldn’t call them bad by any measure, but they really have never been too thought provoking, or at least not nearly to the extent of this album. Mostly they have been collections of loosely themed singles that may or may not sonically fit together. My Krazy Life, YG’s Def Jam debut, however, is compelling while still telling a story that is familiar to us in Hip hop, just in a really different and original way.

Just as some of YG’s earlier projects, My Krazy Life was produced mainly by prolific California beat maker DJ Mustard. Obviously the beat is the backbone to a song, especially in Hip hop, so his influences, style, and idiosyncrasies create a thick layer of personality on the entire project. With this, the production is one of the main contributors to what makes the album so great. DJ Mustard brings a new type of sound, which people seem to be dubbing “ratchet.” In a genre that is a bit oversaturated with the high-hats and the layered synths of the trap style, something this off the wall, imaginative, and most importantly fresh is something to enjoy and endorse. The ratchet production of My Krazy Life pairs deep bass kicks with metallic twang and frequently features both strings and keys to create an overall flashiness that is, obviously from this shit description, tough to explain. What can be solidly said is that this sound is the amalgamation of many staple California production choices, and mixes in a way that advocates the fact that California is a melting pot of great Hip hop.

Speaking of mixtures, we hear some killer guest verses on this project. They manage to be fitting in a very intrinsic, personal story while still keeping the rappers’ personality prominent. We hear the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Rich Homie Quan, Nicki Minaj, Jay Rock, and Q, and they are all playing a very specific role in which they are totally excelling. Both Q and Jay hop onto “I Just Wanna Party” for a noticeable and appropriate energy boost. Nicki provides yet another dope verse that speaks to how legitimately good she is at rapping, despite how much people hate her for her more popular tracks. Meek Mill has a verse in which he floored me with his voice and flow. However, what I really need to spotlight is Rich Homie Quan jumping in on the hook for “My Nigga” and its remix. Just as Tyler, the Creator’s was for “The Purge” on ScHoolboy’s Oxymoron, Quan’s voice is perfectly suited to rap a chorus. Something about that empty Atlanta husk; I can’t sing Rich Homie’s praises enough.

As great and progressive as this project is, it’s important to understand that we probably wouldn’t be hearing this sort of narrative in a Hip hop project if we didn’t have Kendrick Lamar’s 2012 magnum opus Good Kid M.A.A.D. City. Knowing this, My Krazy Life shouldn’t be viewed as an imitation by any means; its inspiration is merely clear-cut. While Kendrick paints a grand fish out of water story and preaches growing to accept and embrace one’s roots, YG takes the route of entrenchment in the stereotypical Compton lifestyle. Gang culture is practically leaking out of this project, playing much more important of a role than its presence in Kendrick’s album. In fact, one of my personal favorite songs talks about kicking back and being cool, but since YG is a Blood, it’s titled “Bicken Back Being Bool,” changing all the “C” sounds to B’s. This isn’t a length that Kendrick goes to, but I think it’s good to have some separation between the two. Plus, people are always just going to rap what they know.

Now that I have sufficiently bored y’all with my thoughts on why this album is good, let me end on why it is significant. To start, we have the solidification of the 2014 gangsta rap resurgence, started by none other than ScHoolboy with Oxymoron. We also hear this new sound that Hip hop heads, both mainstream and underground, seem to really be taking to. Who knows, a year or so down the line we may be pointing to this album as the start of DJ Mustard’s ratchet renaissance. What I’m trying to say is that this project is much deeper than I think any of us thought. If you were to judge My Krazy Life on YG’s previous work, you would have never expected what is to be found on this album. YG tells a story that cascades and absorbs, and created an album that impresses and innovates. Ain’t too bad for his studio debut.

Go and cop yourself some history fam. Buy My Krazy Life here.

Personal highpoints:

“Bicken Back Being Bool” / “Meet the Flockers” / “1 AM” / “My Nigga [Remix]”

Personal lowpoints:

“Really Be (Smokin N Drinkin)” / “When I Was Gone”

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Charlie Johns