YG

My Krazy Life

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    8
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Love it or loathe it, unashamed gangsta rap exists, and in 2014, it thrives with folks like Chief Keef and other Chicago-based thugs ruling the youth side of the genre, while Southern smokers take up the rest of the chart positions, including plenty of freaky hits for Gucci Mane and glitzy baller smashes coming from the Miami-based Don Rick Ross. That leaves gangsta rap's birthplace, the West Coast, with little representation, but the 24-year-old -- and sounding much younger -- Compton kid known as Y.G. wants to bring all the gold home to the land of Cube, Snoop, Dre, and Eazy-E. Besides that, on his Def Jam debut he's got that smartass killer attitude of the N.W.A. crew in their early days, combined with a little of that Geto Boys' ramshackle kamikaze style, although they were, obviously, born in Houston. My Krazy Life is an excitement-packed journey back to the days when the hardest gun talk and most thrilling, plus provocative, put-downs came from the underbelly of the Golden State, but as much as the album revels in murder, misogyny, and mayhem, Y.G. has got that "music as a way out" thing going into overdrive. He's making sure, as his furious Momma yells during the intro, he's not winding up in jail "like your damn Daddy!", and becomes a "people person" the only way he knows how, by enlisting that Parliamentary funk during the party starting "Do It to Ya" which comes with an "Ass up!" and etc. chorus that can't be repeated in mixed company. The Breaking Bad cast would even balk at the drug consumption quest Y.G. remarks on during "Really Be (Smokin N Drinkin')" featuring Kendrick Lamar, and yet his rattling through street slang and drug combos is the inspired stuff of early E-40 or Too Short without the relaxed pimp stance. Instead, Y.G. is an aggressive playa, and the slow and supposedly "sweet" numbers like "Me & My Bitch" cause speed bumps on an otherwise alive album, but the superstars like Kendrick, Drake, and Schoolboy Q are shuffled in smoothly, and when Rich Homie Quan and Jeezy come through on the great "My Hitta" the chemistry is perfect. The album's secret weapon is DJ Mustard who offers numerous productions that are pop like Young Money and bottom-heavy with G-Funk as the blueprint. Think of 50 Cent's Get Rich or Die Tryin' delivered by an inspired rapper in a post-Nicki Minaj world and you're close to the thrill of this inspired debut.

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