When Far East Movement’s “Like a G6” skyrocketed to the top of charts with heavy radio rotation and its title echoing throughout Facebook via the statuses of pop-savvy teens, it proved Young L’s claims about himself to be completely right: he has always been ahead of his time and he’s one of the most crucial producers doing it right now. The Cataracs, a duo that happens to hail from Berkeley, California, Young L’s hometown, produced “Like a G6” in February 2010, and although it’s nowhere close to a 360°-turn from their normal style, the track definitely had the dude’s fingerprints all over it. It bore an eerie resemblance to the heavier-hitting sound Young L carved out on The Pack’s December 2009 mixtape The Pack Is Back
. Plain and simple, Young L is a trendsetter. Rewind to the summer of ’06, The Pack’s single “Vans” – produced by none other than Young L – motivated not only a bunch of kiddies to cop themselves a pair of the slip-on, but a generation of best-selling rappers (see, New Boyz, Soulja Boy) to emulate the style and make millions off of it. But, being the innovator he is, Young L had already drawn up a new sonic blueprint for himself while songs like “You’re a Jerk” plagued FM airwaves across the country in ‘09. While I am surprised that XXL snubbed him for their 2011 Freshman issue, especially since they elected his eccentric Pack band mate Lil B to appear, I’m stunned
that he’s not getting big-time work like another innovative beatsmith, Lex Luger, is. He’s struggled to gain blog hype that fellow Cali revolutionaries Lil B and OFWGKTA have, and despite his remarkable talent, DOMO-KUN
isn’t going to help his blogosphere prospects much.
The man is a prodigy, though. At age 19 he’s already pioneered one movement and is making the music of the future (circa five years from now) today. What he’s labeled as ‘”Martian slap,” Young L’s production style is both futuristic and high-octane; an abrasive, flashy hybrid of dubstep and Europop. Fuzzy, pulsating electronics, crunching drums, and effervescent synth lines comprise booming soundscapes. “Loud Pockets” is the epitome of this sonic ethos, buzzing and thumping along and “Domo Style” teems with Atari synths and slow-rolling thunderclaps. Young L really is the new Dre; an influential producer, but an inept emcee. With little-to-no lyrical prowess, L projects a myopic materialism throughout his bars. Swag is the chief subject on DOMO-KUN
, with the album kicking off to the sounds of a man negotiating the price to procure the valuable commodity. Young L adopts his own take on ‘#based’ lyricism and self-aggrandizing hedonism and illusions of grandeur nestle into every nook and cranny of the album.
But, you see, everybody has their kryptonite, and Young L’s weakness lies in the fact that he can’t make a consistent album. He has an atypically high capacity to crank out bangers, but he seemingly lacks the capability to moderate his output and maintain the quality of his work and that doesn’t seem to be changing anytime soon, as evidenced by the difference between L-E-N
. There’s a tradeoff between the two; while L-E-N
was much more consistent, its best songs (notably, “Drop Top Swag” and “3 16”) pale in comparison to those of DOMO-KUN
. But here, L tries to adapt his style to R&B and songs like “Sex Is Dope” and “Water Ride” transcend Drake levels of awkwardness, incorporating the tact of Lil Wayne’s penchant for fecal jokes. “Sing 2 U” features him, well, singing and “It’s Your World,” a saccharine R&B cut, ends the album with a whimper.
As I said, Young L is an innovator. But his ingeniousness isn’t on display here. He’s just another Twitter rapper, following trends aimlessly. DOMO-KUN
is a bump in the road. A distraction. The byproduct of a loss of focus. It’s the epitome of “half-assed,” one part of the album being totally awesome and then the other half being cluttered with filler. Listener beware: the second half is garbage. Thankfully, Young L is not, and I’m sure that he’ll recuperate after this.
"If you're not failing every now and again, it's a sign you're not doing anything very innovative."
- Woody Allen