King Ratchet :YG’s “My Krazy Life”

Written by Maxwell Caveseno

Somewhere in the apocalyptic seas of violence on Worldstar, a clip exists of an YG show from a few years back in San Diego. The clip consists of brief moments of the rapper performing, then him and his team square off against a group of gangbangers in the audience. Then chairs, stun guns, human bodies and the gold towers for the velvet rope at the club’s entrance are being flung around with casual abandon. It was something out of some video game that sold 5 billion copies so kids could just blow shit up for hours, eloquences about such things are hard to maintain. Thankfully, Keenan Jackson doesn’t suffer this plight.

My Krazy Life practically defies any expectations about people’s perceptions of the former jerk rapper turned godfather of the “Ratchet,” because the devils in the details here and the details are in devilishment. Not since Flockavelli has there been an album so densely populated with violence, and it’s hard recall a modern street rapper so determined to paint such a vivid bloody picture. Here YG serves the goal of past Los Angeles “dumb angels” such as Brian Wilson: to provide the voice of those who aren’t so likeable and precocious as world-weary traveler and prodigy Kendrick Lamar. If Kendrick’s good kid, m.a.A.d. city served as a sort of Ulysses for Los Angeles, this would probably be its Ham On Rye. Self-centered, arrogant, stripped down, obnoxious, yet above all: Commanding.

The album is littered with these hyper-detailed moments of violence. On “BPT” YG describes his initiation into the Treetop Piru’s by beating down someone and recalling how “The haymaker didn’t connect,” and how he restrained himself from stomping his opponent out “cause that’s disrespect.” Or the carelessly offhand way he alludes to masturbating in the county jail on “Bicken Back Being Bool.” For once, it seems his lyrics have finally caught up to the way his voice used to awkwardly squeak and glitch-out through those bass-heavy tunnels in his teenaged attempts of emulating Lil Wayne’s drug-induced robotic tics on early tracks such as “Still Popping” him in a digitaldripped.com/Myspace Profile Player staple. He just casually careens along on a daredevil path; spasmodically dropping stray loose information like it’s nothing.

And the information is necessary; for the most part, YG’s discography up to now has suffered mostly from a lack of personality. But this time Jackson is out here putting everything on display, such as his struggle to heal the wounds of betrayal on “Me & My Bitch,” or his fraught relationship with his mother on “Sorry Mama.” Despite consistently being written off as unintelligent or incapable by most of rap’s critical consensus, he’s able to speak for a whole subset of rap that rarely commit to such detailed step-by-step portrayals of what makes a person turn out the way Keenan Jackson has. The bizarre paradox of “Meet the Flockers,” where YG informs listeners to prey on the Asian community for better odds, while boldly comforting anybody who’s ever had to break and enter into a household to stay afloat is problematic as hell. But at least someone who’s been there is trying to speak on their behalf. Rap has too many rich kids trying to be voices of their generation, and maybe some of the casualties of places like Compton, Chicago, or anywhere else where life becomes desperate deserve the right to affirm their existence.

Def Jam proposed that My Krazy Life is going to be the next The Chronic for Los Angeles. It’s a pretty fair comparison; the Drake assisted “Who Do You Love,” “Left, Right” and “My Nigga” are all massive bangers, with DJ Mustard’s fully-realized sound finally shoving YG out of the limited kingdom of L.A. radio rap and unleashing him onto the nation. It has the sonic potential for him to remain in the chronology of rap the way that those early 90s West Coast classics linger around after decades, enthralling legions of listeners. The storyline is fascinating and direct, the beats are heavy and evocative. At one point, some unidentified DJ, perhaps Mustard, transforms an old school rap staple sample via Eugene McDaniels into a mass of poltergeist triplets screaming to get out.

But I’d defer that, heretically enough, My Krazy Life is more like a West Coast version of The College Dropout. The rare moment a rapper takes the time to document all the details to humanize the people left behind in a way that’s so artistically powerful, hopefully even those who are miles away from such a life may gain a chance to have their eyes forced upon such a life. It is arguably the finest debut from a West Coast rapper in over a decade—yes, even against THAT ALBUM—and it is true marvel to watch YG deliver after so many years of promise, work and dedication.

#400

Rap’s Physical Being: Schoolboy Q’s “Oxymoron”

Written by Matthew Ramirez (@theredbackpack)

Recently I had a friend tell me she spent a part of her evening staring at herself in the mirror, playing with her belly fat. She said, “moving my tummy in different directions…that is your privilege as a fat person, the ability to be like, what if my stomach was up here? What if it was over there? What if it wasn’t there at all?” I nodded at my keyboard because I knew what she was talking about, the ability to see yourself transform in your own reflection.

I read negative-to-middling reviews of Schoolboy Q’s music waiting for the innocent-seeming euphemism for “fat” or “chubby” or “conventionally unattractive” stand in as a comment on his music. A lot of rappers get by on charisma and looks which alleviate some of their more suspect artistic choices; Schoolboy Q might be one of a few non-fake rappers left, because, via his embrace of bucket hats and a willingness to wear tank tops it’s clear he doesn’t care what anyone thinks. I thought the title of the album—Oxymoron—was redundant at first (his previous full-length is Habits & Contradictions), but once I began to read everything Q does through a lens of 100% not giving-a-fuck-ness the title is brilliant. He’s a moron addicted to oxycontin. He’s as self-deprecating as any rapper which is something he doesn’t get credit for.

Q is at his best when he’s grooving for four minutes, not really giving a fuck about what he’s rapping but letting his delivery and the vibe sell the emotion. Dressed in some kind of cape/cloak performing the uncharacteristically subdued “Studio” on Conan the week of release was a great moment, because it was him at his most laidback and confident, doing his thing for a national TV audience, the casually sweet “sitting in the studio trying to get to you” hook sinking in and opening itself up to a variety of interpretations.

The highs, like mid-‘00s Neptunes throwback “Los Awesome,” remind me of a time when rappers were really good at stringing together words and syllables for a pleasant dance through the ear, even if I can’t tell you anything Q is saying on the track (Jay Rock kills it, though). And “Man of the Year” rides its Chromatics sample as far as it can go, transforming their aimless disco into the trunk-rattling bounce it’s always yearned to be. I want to shoot fireworks off to this song; I want to lead a public sing-along as I pour Lone Star all over my body.

Q has become a better storyteller on the songs that make it count, and what I’ve always liked about him is he’s never tried to make his rapping something more than what it is. I saw a lot of misguided projection thrown onto Danny Brown’s disappointing Old, as if the misanthropic hedonism was more interesting than it was (that the narrative changed from the actually-perfect XXX to Old perfecting his self-destructive but cathartic rapping is totally inaccurate). Q isn’t doing that with Oxymoron—here’s him rapping about selling drugs, here’s him rapping about taking drugs, here’s him passing out, here’s his daughter urging him to wake up, but it doesn’t feel played for cheap emotion. It’s what a storyteller is supposed to do—give you pertinent details, fill in some blanks, let you draw your own conclusions.

More than his previous work, Oxymoron feels complete and like a real album, instead of a haphazard collection of impeccably produced rap songs. A rap album is humming along greatly when the features pop up as an organic part of the landscape—every non-TDE guest is an distinctly identifiable personality (Kurupt, Tyler, Raekwon, Suga Free) but they become a part of this world, a vision of Los Angeles and California that’s as western frontier-sunny and rose-tinted as it is Menace II Society-dark, unsettling, and raucous.

From the joyous “Los Awesome” to bonus cut “Fuck LA,” Oxymoron is a fittingly titled, constantly shuffling rap album whose creator is exercising his main privilege—moving the parts of his large body around, poking at this, rolling that, pulling this, in front of a mirror obscured by weed smoke and west coast sun. Q is unafraid to let himself be seen as flawed, despicable, hopeless, and unflattering, but he doesn’t try to leverage it by selling some homogenized image of himself, or aim for a middlebrow thing of making that the whole point of his raps—“exorcising demons”—because as countless humorless albums since 2011 have proved, rap is better when it’s semi party and only partly bullshit.

Passion of the Weiss & So Many Shrimp Present: Krazy (A YG Primer Mix)

Post by Maxwell Caveseno & Son Raw (@SonRaw

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It’s been roughly 6-7 years since YG burst on the rap scene. He’s survived two trends/sub-genres coming and going, been incarcerated, and lived a life that the average rap fan fantasizes about. Throughout those years, he’s remained an underground phenomenon, beloved in Los Angeles but only known for one novelty single outside the city of Angels. Today, Passion of the Weiss and So Many Shrimp are here to change that with Krazy: A YG Primer -mixed and selected by Son Raw and compiled and inspired by Maxwell Cavaseno.

With YG’s debut album FINALLY  unleashed on the public, we figured it would be beneficial for everyone to take a look back at the rise of this West Coast star. From his early jerk-era oddities, to the loose ends of his mixtape campaign, to the recent hits that have helped finally convince Def Jam that their initial investment on the “Toot It And Boot It” kid was actually a smart one. There’s DJ Mustard, there’s gang bangin’ on wax. In short, there’s everything that makes West Coast Gangsta rap worth listening to in 2014.

Download: Link

Stream:

Track Listing:

Travis Porter (feat. YG) – Yo Bitch

YG (feat. Lil Wayne, Meek Mill, Nicki Minaj & Rich Homie Quan) – My Nigga (Remix)

YG (feat. Ty$) – Pop Painkillaz

YG – Bad Bitch

YG (feat. Meek Mill) – I’mma Thug

YG – Fucked Up

YG (feat. Tory Lanez) – On The Set

YG – Do It With My Tongue

YG – Bompton

YG – Left, Right

YG (feat. TeeCee 4800) – Keenan Jackson

YG (feat. Drakk) – Who Do You Love

YG – I’m A Real One

DJ Mustard (feat. Joe Moses & YG) – Burn Rubber

YG (feat. Dom Kennedy & Joe Moses) – This Yick

Iamsu! (feat. YG) – Igloo

YG – Just Broke Up

E-40 (feat. Problem, YG & Iamsu!) – Function

YG (feat. Ty$) – I’ll Do Ya

Young Jeezy & YG – U.O.E.N.O. (Remix)

YG  (feat. Riko & Reem Riches)- Westside 4 Fingaz

YG – All Fly Shit

YG (feat. Charley Hood & Ray J) – No Sleep

YG – This Year

YG – Riding Like Me

West Coast Sunshine with G.L.A.M.

Written by Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy (@danielmondon)

Round where I stay, the night is beginning to roll out a little later than usual, even as the rain and wind push back stronger. It’s a sign that spring is coming, and with spring we’re going to need new riding music, as we leave our sweatshirts at home. We’ll always be happy to hear some bass, but come springtime we want a surplus not just the daily recommended amount.

Oakland resident G.L.A.M.’s third west-coast mixture The Feel sounds like the first burst of springtime. Each of its nine tracks showcase recent L.A. sonics: trunk-rattling minimalism, spacey ’08 Odd Future melodicism, off-kilter groove and a squiggle of G-funk Theremin. Recognizable samples pepper the breezy vibe (“Paul Revere”) that “slappa-de-bass” scene from I Love You Man, Queen Latifah yelling some shit in Set It Off. When the songs aren’t crawling along, they’re pumping and pounding into a familiar groove locking The Feel into easy repeated listens.

G.L.A.M. is certainly a student of today’s web-based rappers, with a number of tricksy triple-time flows used in the hope that the listener won’t find the dud lines amongst the technical flourishes. She doesn’t embarrass, but she doesn’t acquit herself either—it’s competence. She sparks to life on the closing “Coco’s Reprise,” a cool-cucumber hijack story, and that’s the immediate highlight because it reaches for something other than the need to vibe out. But at the same time, it’s getting brighter outside. Perhaps we need something easy to prepare us. The season awaits.