YG Welcomes Y’all to the Old West
For relatively new rap fans, the hoodsta ways of the West Coast, presented by YG, may be refreshing when put against the backdrop of contemporary rap. With the release of “Still Brazy”, Compton and the West Coast have resurfaced anew with a tinge that hearkens back to the early West Coast underworld that has long passed. What’s even more noteworthy than YG honing his rap skills from the days of “Toot It and Boot It” to becoming one of the most insightful emcees is the fact that the hip-hop has been reintroduced to the West Coast that birthed gangsta rap and the music that made the world scared of Bompton, Watts and South Bentral.
My Krazy Life lightly introduced the game to the gangsta shit that raised YG and a whole region full of Tiny Locs, BGs and other gangsters. DJ Mustard beats put a bouncy glaze over the music that diluted the grit of the formerly gutter sounds that menacingly rattled Monte Carlo trunks, violently shaking tinted Cutlass windows. Still Brazy though, has dropped that veneer and taken listeners back in time to an era when the music was one with drive-bys, pendletons and Nike Cortez. While unfortunate that the average rap fan was never privy to this era of real Gangsta Rap, we can thank YG for bringing that back with the connection to the youth that a now 40-year old rapper might not offer this generation of rap fans.
You may have never heard of Mack 10 and the Westside Connection who find themselves slabbed all over YG’s new music. Wondering where the hits and organ strikes on “She Wish She Was” came from? Look no further than Mack 10’s “Foe Life”. In the same track, featured LA artist Jay 305 sounds like a mixture of 93.5 KDAY favorites Skee Lo, Hi-C and AMG. Last time ‘round for MKL, it was YG reintroducing West Coast noobs to Sugafree on “I Just Wanna Party”. It’s not always YG doing the interpolating on his the new album, either. Sad Boy Loco comes off sounding like a Lil’ Rob or and NB Rider on the “Don’t Come to LA” hook. The latino influence is what brought Tupac to posit that “it wouldn’t LA without Mexicans” and what brought Nipsey Hussle to repeat the same line twenty years later.The Western roots go deeper as YG sometimes comes off sounding like the second-coming of B-Brazy or the newest addition to the Damu Ridas, a cohort of rapping bloods who recorded quintessential West Coast music that surely influences the rapper today. He’s even borrowed Brazy’s punching sound effects.
When Gizzle is sampling Zapp’s “More Bounce to the Ounce” as done on “Twist My Fingaz”, he’s doing what essentially every West Coast rapper was doing in the 90s in the heyday of G-Funk. YG follows in the footsteps of West Coast greats such as Daz Dillinger (“Tha Dogg Pound Gangsta”), Coolio (“County Line”), and even Lady of Rage (“Afro Puffs”) in using the track. The female vocalizing on “Gimmie Got Shot” could easily be Jewell, best known for belting the hook on Tupac’s “Thug Passion”.
YG retracting back into this origins to move further into the rap is ironic but logical as the theme of artists becoming more personal has become the way in which an artist captivates an audience looking for something new. What’s new for the audience is second nature for YG and the relationship works swimmingly. He can reach back and sling forth the emotion of Old West classics and convey them in a way that is still raw. His appeal is furthered when he’s subbing Cs for Bs, as it’s unprecedented and silly to internet users who’ll mock it before eventually adopting the language. We’re also getting closer a look into the Wild West of decades’ past as YG gives us accounts of a rugged region in the country that has mellowed when compared to the days leading up to the Bloods and Crips truce in 1992. YG getting shot rekindled the notion that rappers once engaged in gunplay much more often and delivered deeply emotional projects in the event they survived.The internet will talk about YG becoming a much better rapper and perhaps attribute his newfound mastery of the game to being well produced or surrounded by the right people but in reality, his radical retreat to the bity of Bompton and all its history – from the the violence to the music -appears to be responsible for his refining. In so many ways has YG become a current symbol for classic West Coast rap. From the lifestyle he represents with his language and 4hunnid clothing that resurrects old west coast fashion to the music he infuses that pays royalties and homage to those coming before him, YG really got the bity back brackin’.
In the event that Still Brazy leaves you fiending for more of the Parliament bass, the Roger Troutman synth and Dr. Dre grand piano, have a listen to some of the aforementioned artists and their cuts and you’ll be sure to not only build a closer relationship with YG and his music but come away with a better understanding of how the young gangsta is operating. I have provided a playlist for you below: